The Loppet attracts 160 competitors covering a distance of 71km from the Chateau Lake Louise to Central Park in Banff. While most competitors team up for the relay category many intrepid skiers take on the daunting solo challenge by skiing all six legs.
This Loppet is more of an adventure than a race and it is truly cross country skiing with a bit of everything. The race course takes in many spectacular view points along the way. In the week prior to this year’s race the trail crew captured this photo of a pack of 6 wolves.
A core group of us have done the loppet for the last 3 years and it has been one of the highlight events on the winter calendar for many of us. This year we got to enjoy nearly perfect weather and excellent trail conditions. Even with the great trail conditions, there were still plenty of rocks, trees and brush to look out for and the odd twist, turn or dip that you could easily break a ski. It’ll always be a course for rock skis!
There are two options for the event: Team or solo. Of course, given the ENERGY and excitement behind Team MitoCanada, everyone went for the solo category. Team MitoCanada had representation from 7 people and placed 6 in the top 7 spots overall. With Miles Tindal, Marg Fedyna, Liza Pye, Brendan McCracken, Darryl Mekechuk, Tony Smith and Blaine Penny on the start line MitoCanada had a 20% representation in the solo field!
Defending champion and MitoCanada President, Blaine Penny once again forged his way to the front of the race to take his customary first place. In second place was Mito team member Darryl Mekechuk. Tony Smith hung on for fourth with Brendan McCracken rounding out the top 5 men. Miles Tindal suffered an early equipment failure and did his best to stay in the race with borrowed poles.
The race starts out on the Lake in front of the Chateau in the dark and you head down “The Tramline” toward the Bow River where the trail turns and heads down the Bow Valley. The sunrise was spectacular – pink and orange hues, steam rising off the river, and beautiful wispy clouds for an added effect. It’s moments like these you are reminded how lucky we are to be healthy and capable of being able to get out and do such amazing things. The beauty of this loppet is that you get plenty of time to think and reflect while soaking up the surroundings.
“I was almost brought to tears when going through one of the meadows and taking in the beauty around me – I felt so guilty with how much I was enjoying myself and that my boy Evan would likely never get to have experiences as a result of Mitochondrial Disease. I quickly realized that Evan will be proud of me if I give it my all, enjoy the day, and appreciate every minute of it.” – Blaine
Two years ago when Blaine skied the race for the first time, he skied 4:09 and had no idea what the course record was (4:07) and wasn’t even wearing a watch. Blaine was feeling good on Sunday and decided to go for the course record. He put in a solid effort, but the conditions with some ‘conservative waxing’, he came up a little shy in a time of 4:21.
“I love the rustic nature of this race” said Team MitoCanada Elite Nordic Ski Captain, Tony Smith, “Every year is different, depending on snow conditions, you never quite know what to expect. This is one of my all time favourite events and also a great opportunity for us to help raise awareness for MitoCanada. We’re already looking forward to next year’s race and plotting to use our ENERGY for another sweep of the podium.”
For more information and complete results visit www.loppet.ca
For those looking for their next Energy Endurance Challenge, you should consider the Canmore Ski Fest…and MitoCanada has been selected as the charity for the event. Visit www.canmoreskifest.com for more info.
If you would like to be a part of Team Mito- JOIN online at mitocanada.org/team. Joining the Team is Free. Come and wear the Green and Black at your next event to help raise awareness for Mitochondrial Disease.