The book made the 4 and half hour drive go by pretty quick and soon enough I found myself in Bozeman with some time to kill before the pre race briefing. I headed out for a short run to loosen the legs up after the drive.
It was great to catch up to some friends I hadn't seen in a while at the race as well a to hang out with some friends I rarely see outside of skimo racing. After the briefing I went to dinner with Brian and Amy then we headed to the hotel Brian and I decided to share instead of sleeping in our cars.
I woke up race morning feeling ok, but not great. During my warmup I felt pretty crappy, which cranked up my nerves. This lead to me attacking very hard at the beginning of the race ( I was unable to hold myself back, which regularly leads to my demise). I held a very hard pace up a little more than half of the first climb, until I had been caught and passed by a couple of racers. Then the head games began. The first part of the first descent traversed the ridgeline and I lost ground on the up/down terrain. Then we dropped into hidden chute which was some great steep skiing. I left the transition in 4th just off of the leaders, but as it turns out I would stay in that spot for the rest of the race.
For all the effort I put in I could not reel anyone in and stayed in no mans land all alone ad I struggled through the ascents and descents of the race. Near the end of the race we traversed the ridge for a long time. I was totally blown up and floundered along the challenge terrain. I was grateful to hit the final descent and decided to let 'er rip all the way down. Very near the bottom I was skiing a bit too fast for my legs and ended up going down in a ball of fire as a ragdolled for a hundred yards or so. I collected myself to finish off the race still in 4th. I finished about 7 minutes behind Brandon who had won, Cary Smith was 2nd, Chris Kroger 3rd.
I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with Joe this race turned out, but I think it was related to having been sick and maybe a touch overtrained. A group of us skied together at Bridger the rest if the afternoon, it was a ton of fun to ski with folks that I frequently only race against and realize how talented of athletes they all are. Not only do they race fast but they ski strong even when just having fun. Even though I was bummed about the race it turned out to be a great weekend with good friends
in the mountains.
Video from the race