A field of over 70 Nordic skiers, including a record 21 juniors, turned out to the sixth annual Lost Lake Shuffle this past weekend, to see how many laps they could make in the time allotted to their respective categories.
On the upper end the top solos and teams of three saw how many laps of a 3 km course they could do in four hours. Junior teams and solo skiers also had the option of doing a two-hour course, while families had one hour to make laps of a shorter 2 km course.
With snow falling the night before and during the first three hours of racing, the conditions were slower than in past years. As a result, the top solo skier fit in two fewer laps than last year, but still managed an amazing 69 km, or 23 laps. To put that into perspective, marathon cross-country events are usually a maximum of 50 km.
Once again the top solo in the four-hour group was Jean-Yves Sauriol.
“I just love this event, and the snow was great this year. It made things a bit slower that last year, but it was great, just a lot of fun to be out there in the snow,” he said.
When asked if the race gets easier from year to year, Sauriol considered it for a moment before answering with an emphatic, “No!”
“I really wouldn’t say so. Every year is different. This one was slower with the snow, while last year was cold. It’s a hard race no matter how you prepare for it, just with the distance and the amount of energy you’re burning out there. It’s a real challenge.
“Last year there was a lot of passing as well, so I had someone to pace with, but this year I was alone. You go faster when you’re racing somebody like that, but it’s more fun.”
Sauriol is one of the top skiers in his age group in the province, and has done a 50 km marathon this year as well as the 30km Whistler Loppet. He’s also considering a 50 km race outside of Seattle.
Finishing second this year with 22 laps, or 66 km, was Denis Feeney. Brian Hardie was third with 20 laps.
On the women’s side the top solo was Tara Calvert, who raced the full four hour course for the first time last year. She completed 20 laps, or 60 km.
“After last year I said I wouldn’t do the four hours again, but I’m forgetful because it was a year later and I thought it was a good idea,” she said. “It went pretty well. I was pretty sore, but it felt good reaching the end of it.