A field of over 60 skinny skiers came out on Sunday to race in the fifth annual Lost Lake Shuffle – a turnout on par with last year’s frigid race, but fewer skiers than organizers hoped to have for the fifth year of the race.
Conditions and weather were perfect for the event, and everyone who participated had a great afternoon. The two year solo categories were popular, but fewer racers tackled the four hour solo event – probably because the Shuffle fell between the Feb. 12 Coast Cup and the Feb. 26 Whistler Loppet.
"Most people need more than a week to recover from a four hour enduro," said organizer Chris Waller of the Cross Country Connection.
Waller says the event lost some momentum and racers this year when they were forced to delay the race from early January to mid-February as a result of the lack of snow in the valley at the beginning of the year.
Having a smaller field did have its advantages – almost everyone came away with a prize, and there was more than enough food and refreshments to go around.
Only three men did the full four hour enduro, seeing how many laps of a 3.5 km course they could complete before the clock ran out.
Jean-Yves Sauriol of the Hollyburn Nordics was a machine, posting laps in the 12 minute range early in the day, and keeping a strong pace to the finish. He ended his day with 25 laps, or covered more than 94.5 km in the four hours – thereby averaging almost 24 km/h on his skate skis.
"It was good. The first two and a half hours I felt great but after that I started watching the time a little more, started getting hungry."
Sauriol made sure to eat something every two laps towards the end of the race, and spent the last hour watching the laps count down.
Sauriol had completed the 50 km Cariboo Marathon event the previous week. Although he had never competed it the Shuffle before he said he was getting a lot of skiing in this year and felt he was up for the challenge.
At the finish line he knew he was the winner, but lost count of the number of laps he completed earlier in the race. Even he was surprised to find out he had skied over 90 km.
Sauriol does not consider himself to be a competitive racer – "I have a day job," he said – although he always works as hard as he can once a race is underway. In the Cariboo Marathon he finished eighth against some of the top skiers in the province.