Finally, it snowed! After a very un-snowy holiday season, Hanson Hills go dumped on in time for the 6-Hour Michigan Cup Team Relay. The skating lane was in great shape, although conditions varied from a little icy in place, to super-fine, to slow and sloggy (no, that's not a real word, but it fits the conditions....) as temperatures rose well above freezing in the beautiful sunlight.
Classic tracks...in the hills and trees the tracks were fairly nice. All tracks were very hard. Between the Lodge and the first big hill, there were a number of places where dirt or grass showed through, or were icy from being packed so close to the ground. You could easily jump into the skate lane to avoid. Another few inches of snow will fix this issue for the winter.
Each relay team consisted of three members. There were options for male, female, and co-ed teams, but not women-only teams raced. Each team member had to race at least one lap to get 10 Michigan Cup team participation points for the day.
The race started at 10:00am. The loop was the full Blue Trail, using the "Easy Return" back to the lodge (trail markers Lodge, 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 8, 7, 2, 1, Lodge on the map below).
At noon, the loop shortened to the Green Trail, also using the "Easy Return" back to the lodge (trail markers Lodge, 1, 2, 3, 9, 8, 7, 2, 1, Lodge).
Finally, at 2:00pm, for the last two hours, the loop went shorter again, staring with the Green Trail but taking "Sues Return" to get back to the lodge (trail markers Lodge, 1, 2, 3, 9, 8, 2, 1, Lodge).
The Hanson Hills groomers moved cones around on the course to ensure skiers went in the right direction (although one or two skiers somehow missed the directions and did go the wrong way...until someone corrected them). Part of the trail was two way...and two skiers did inadvertently try to occupy the same space. Chris Jones suffered some cuts and bruises but survived to continue skiing.
There was also am 8.8km Wilderness Trail Tour that used the single track Wilderness trail through the woods. Three people did the tour. The Wilderness track was hard and slick, with an occasional low spot.
There were two categories of skiers: Those out to win and those out to take advantage of the new snow to get in a long ski. In the former category, a coed team, "Hog Wild Racing" took the win for the most laps of any team: 20 laps. Mike Davis, Rebecca Davis, and Pete Mead (Hanson Hills / Cross Country Ski Shop) were skiing machines! Two male-only teams and one coed team each skied 19 laps: Cross Country Ski Headquarters "Yinzers" (Jason Zimmerman, Jon Kruper, and Al Hough), Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team's "Steric Don" (Eric Parrottt, Don Camp, and Steve Smigiel Jr.), and Cross Country Ski Headquarters' "Sunshine Racers" (William Ivan, Cheryl Darnton, and Scott McGon).
As this was also a pot luck, there was lots of good food in the lodger to enjoy between legs...