The Race of Truth, the cyclists call it. In a time trial, you lay down your best offer, and sit back and wait to see whether it is good enough. There is no watching the others to modulate your effort, so as only to do the minimum necessary to beat your rival. In time trial, you ski as fast as you can, with no excuses offered.
At Hiawatha, much of the course is a fairly flat double-pole - but where there is a climb, it is big and steep. Normally, when you crest the top of a climb, you work hard to get back up to top speed, and then is an opportunity to rest. However, here the glide was slow, and the climbs were followed not by descents but by flats, and flats that were slow and grinding at that.
So, at the top of some of those hills, I was glad that nobody was watching how fast my 'as fast as you can' was: it was excruciating. Work hard up a climb, and find at the top not a quick acceleration and a rest, but a grinding, high-friction double-pole. It was tough.
The start was seeded in age order, so the youthful Steve Kuhl was an early starter, announced as 'the Michigan Cup leader'. A hold-up at the border, where those intrepid public servants strive to protect the nation and its citizens from the threat posed by people wanting to go to ski races, had resulted in his barely arriving in time for the race.
After finishing, you can check your watch as later racers cross the line, and estimate their time - but you never know exactly what their time was, as one can start any time in a window of 3" either side of the stated start time. So if the times are close, you cannot be sure.
In this case, times were indeed close, with only 6" separating the top four men.
After the race, there was a choice of trails to for a warm-down ski, and a clubhouse full of chili and cookies to keep everyone happy. Thanks to the Soo Finnish club for their organisation and hospitality: a successful experiment with the Michigan Cup, as far as the racers are concerned.
Senior Men 10km Classic:
Senior Women 10km Classic: