On Saturday March 1st, the 6th annual Black Mountain Classic was run under perfect conditions. The course was very fast, the first 12 finishers bested last years winning time of 2:06:11. The home course advantage certainly played out for Cheboygan’s Denny Paull and Tracy Hardin (photos at right) as they posted the best men’s and women’s times in the event. The event drew 75 registrations for the 34K race and 16 for the 10K non-competitive tour.
Commenting on his first place finish and course record time of 1:47:26 over a distance of 34 kilometers Denny Paull, of Cheboygan said he had a fast set of skis this year. “I kind of waxed off. I waxed for more glide that kick and it worked. My skis were good and I felt good today,” Paull remarked.
“I could see early in the race that my skis were pretty good. I decided that, rather than wait till the later stage in the race to turn it on, I just took off. I figured that if I could put some distance between the other racers they would not be able to draft me,” he continued. Paull explained that drafting is a technique whereby the lead racer pushes air out of the way and the racer following close behind has an advantage where it is up to twenty percent easier to ski than the lead skier.
“Absolutely fantastic,” was the way Paull described the course condition this year. He noted that Jim Meyer of Onaway spent 80 hours on the course breaking up the icy packed snow to make it possible for the skiers to traverse the course.
“We didn’t know we were going to get six inches of snow the night before the race and in order to have a good course we had to grind up the ice and that’s what he did. Because Jim spent so much time prepping the course we had excellent conditions. Every person I talked in this race said it was the best grooming they had ever seen,” he concluded.
Tracy Hardin, the women’s overall winner, also had nothing but kudos for the trail. Hardin’s time of 2:10:10 was good enough for 14th overall and 1st in her division. Hardin started cross country skiing at the age of 14 and raced a few times during her college years.
“I really didn’t get back into it until we moved up north permanently about five years ago,” she noted. She has won the state championship in the past and is considered the top woman skier in the state right now.
Denny Paul wins the race!