MRSAnaries 12th Overall in Ski to Sea

411 teams.  Over 2,800 racers.  With7 race legs and a total distance of 95 miles, Ski to Sea is one of the biggest and most competitive multisport races in the northwest.   The race starts on Mount Baker with a cross country ski, then moves to a downhill ski, run, road bike, canoe, mountain bike, and finishes with a kayaking leg in Bellingham Bay.  Our team was put together by an ER doctor and nurse in Bellingham who called me in January to ask if I wanted to do the canoe leg.  I teamed up with Eric Mickleson, and as our team formed, it was clear that we had the potential to do well.

7 of 8 MRSAnaries at the Finish

7 of 8 MRSAnaries at the Finish

We had an olympic cross country skier (Roberto Carcelen of Peru), an alpinist in great condition (Joe Bonn), a nationally competitive marathon runner (Josh van Der Wiel), a former U.S. Postal rider (Nate Riess), a solid mountian biker (Ralph Weiche) and three strong paddlers (David Jacobson, Eric Mickleson, and me).

Saturday night we preped all of our gear and loaded the car.  On race day Eric and I woke up, ate, and drove to the start of the canoe leg.  We were there 2.5 hours before we expected to start, and slowly set up the boat and stretched out.  You don’t see most of your teammates ’til it’s all over, so we were waiting in suspense, wondering how Roberto, Joe, and Josh were faring up on the mountian.

We had set up and tested our drinking systems and eating in our practice runs.  Here’s my set up in the bow, compete with drinking tubes and Clif Shot Blocks in a bag taped to the right side of my seat:

2009 Ski to Sea 006

Nate came flying into the transfer area 11th overall, I grabbed the timing chip from him, and we were off.  Eric and I estimated that we could be about top ten in the canoe leg if we paddled well.  We had a good start, and the first couple of miles were smooth.  We had no trouble in the two boily turns that flip people every year, and then we had to settle into the long, winding flats that make up the rest of the 18 mile course.

There were two boat just ahead of us that we could see the whole way down the river, but we couldn’t catch them.  An hour and 53 minutes after starting, we sprinted to the beach on river left at the finish, handed the timing chip to Ralph, and ran the canoe up the our finish line.  We had finished 12th overall in the canoe leg, 6th in our division, just over 5 minutes behind the winning team.

We headed to Marine Park to see the finish of the kayak leg, and just missed DJ finishing in 12th overall, 10th in his leg.  We met the rest of the team, and found out that Roberto had pneumonia, but didn’t tell us and raced anyway.  He normally beats most people who finished ahead of him in the cross country ski, but couldn’t go as fast as he wanted.  His average heart rate was 197 for the race, with a max of 212!

Roberto and me at the finish

Roberto and me at the finish

My legs were cramping from sitting in the canoe, and I could hardly stand up.  We made a fine pair!

That night, we gathered at Ralph Weiche’s for dinner.  It looks like we could be a strong team for a long time to come.

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