Saturday March 11th marked my fiance’s birthday and our first Winter Wild at Waterville Valley Resort. The Winter Wild race series features uphill race courses at some of the areas most popular ski resorts. Many contenders participate in the entire series while others hit one or two, you know “just for fun.” We are of the latter group who ski uphill- for fun. I opted out of racing this time around but tagged along for moral support.
It was an early morning with registration at 6:15 a.m. and a race start time of 7:00 a.m. Racers arrived at the bitterly cold and quiet Waterville Valley Resort ready to brave the elements. Participants ranged from mini-runners as young as four years old to seasoned adults on skis, snowshoes and sneakers. The majority were runners with a dozen or so skiers in the telemark or heavy equipment category.
Whiteout conditions and sub-zero temperatures made for a serious challenge. The race began and only minutes later a strong gust of wind came barreling down the mountain taking with it the time keeping table and clock. Race volunteers rushed in to the cold to reestablish the start/finish line before the first finishers arrived. A mere twenty minutes later the first runner crossed the finish line followed by the first skier at about twenty-two minutes. Many racers reported crippling wind gusts, bitter cold and very low visibility- frostbite was not out of the question. Still, the energy was positive and the race day comradery was evident. Despite the impossible conditions racers persisted, a true demonstration of the infamous New England grit.