Dynamic duo Ken "Rocket Man" Dawson and his wife Karen Dawson paired up to win the "Lower Peninsula Season Opener 5K Freestyle" at Huron Meadows Metropark last Wednesday evening.
The interval-start freestyle race started near the golf center and used the 3.2 mile Coyote Run skate trail north of the golf club house.
Rain the previous day had racers worried about snow cover. But Huron Meadows' Adam Haberkorn was out grooming early and did a great job mixing up the hard under layer with the top layer of new moist snow from previous night. The result was a fantastic skating surface, especially on the north loop.
A self-timed event, three early skiers finished their time trial before the official 6:00pm start time while the temperature was still in the 20's and the sun still out. As the evening progressed, the temperature dropped down into the mid-teens. The snow was fast and abrasive, and more so after the sun went down.
Three of the earlier skiers were Bill Kaltz, Rob Fairman and Doug Head. Says Doug, "Bill was sitting on the entire lap and came around at the Finish. Of course he didn't tell us where the Finish line was until he had already past it with his arms raised in celebration."
Racers used headlamps or not as they saw fit. A nearly full moon lighted the mostly open course. Only one spot on the course was tricky, where the trail turned right while shaded from the moon light by a pair of pines. At least one skier missed the turn (that would be me) and lost valuable seconds trying to find the course again.
Most racers had cold hands and/or cold feet, having not yet acclimated to the the early season cold and unusually good snow conditions in southeastern Michigan.
A couple skiers were mum about their time. An indication of lack of fitness? Or trying to hide their excellent fitness? The first Michigan Cup race of the season will be telling...