A few weekends back (Jan 31 – Feb 1), the second annual Lake Memphromogog Marathon races were held adjacent to the picturesque Vermont town of Newport. The local organization was granted the rights to hold the North American Marathon Championships and these attracted some 28 entries over the two distances of 25km and 50km. Saturday’s 25km started in -20C temperatures with a brutal wind on one side of the 800m oval which resulted in a wind chill of -30C. Once the race was on there were no complaints of the cold as we warmed up with a steady and robust pace. Registration included skaters from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Vermont, NY, Connecticut, Massachusetts and one skater all the way from Berkeley, California. This race was won by Jake Maarse, a 60 year old regular on the marathon circuit, of North Gower, Ontario. Our club was represented only by yours truly but my result was somewhat disappointing due to a heavy chest cold.
The 50km race the next morning started in balmy weather of -15C but still a nasty wind that contributed to a much lower temperature. In this race Tom Keene of Boston edged out Jake for the win. For the first time in ten years I did not finish a marathon event, having run out of steam after only a third of the distance – again my excuse was the chest cold.
The ice conditions were excellent and the organizing group at Newport deserve much praise for their dedicated work. This was only their second year of ice making and they have climbed the learning curve of ice making very quickly.
A 40km skate up the lake was planned for Monday and this would have included a border crossing into Canada. However due to heavy snow conditions earlier in the week the event was cancelled, much to the disappointment of many of the skaters who were looking forward to this interesting and fun event to skate a race transitioning from one country to the next.
I encourage those in the club who are interested in distance skating on natural ice with the elements that winter has to offer to consider the Vermont events for next year. Incidentally the weekend also includes 1 and 5km events. The oval is adjacent to the East End Restaurant, the race headquarters, which offers up on the Saturday evening a wonderful buffet and some of the best draft craft beer in the northeast. Marathon skating is not about winning medals but about participating in a fun and challenging event with wonderful people (highly skilled and not so) from far and wide.
If you wish to keep abreast of what is going on in the marathon skating world refer to www.marathonskating.org.
Picture below shows the lead pack rounding the south corner of the oval with the town of Newport in the background.