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Paull & Gebhart Win 2006 Black Mountain 30K Classic

Results & Photos

Sun, Mar  5, 2006 - By Mike Muha

Race Director and Straits Strider Denny Paull took first in the 30K Black Mountain Classic on Saturday, March 4, 2006 in 1:45:24 under bright sunny skies. Traverse Nordic star Milan Biac finished a few seconds behind in 1:45:35. Team member Joe Bettendrof took third in 1:45:51, just ahead of David Maclean by 3 seconds.

Denny Paull coming into the finish
(Picture by Mary Pritchard)

Milan bonked at the 25K mark. "All I could see were purple blotches through my eyes," said Milan. He kept it together enough during the last 5 K so that only Denny was able to take advantage of his misfortune.

Women's winner Daniela Gebhart "skied like a moose" according to one male who saw Daniela race. "She doublepoled right past me." Daniela (Straits Striders) finished first in 2:07:57. Tracy Hardin (Straits Striders) and Amy Todd (Grand Rapids Nordic) finished second and third in 2:10:33 and 2:34:08.

Daniela Gebhart on a downhill
(Picture by Mary Pritchard)


Kick waxing proved to be interesting. Temperatures were in the single digits over night, warming to about 20F at start time, and continued warming another 10 degrees during the race. Parts of the course were nicely shaded from the sunny, but several sections, including some long uphills, were directly under the blaring sun.

Waiting the the gun to go off
(Picture by Mary Pritchard)

Some racers successfully waxed with a good base binder, then several layers of warm kick wax for later in the race, then a single layer of colder kick wax on top for early in the race - and had good kick the entire race. Several racer had to re-wax with a warmer wax while out on the course. Others just suffered through with lots of herringboning and doublepoling.

Gathering for the start
(Picture by Mary Pritchard)

Several people thought the course must have been longer than 30K - at least it seemed longer! Many racers had tired and sore arms from the doublepoling through flats or uphills when the kick wax failed.

Post race, the organizers put on one of the best lunches on the Michigan Cup circuit at the Chateau North Restaurant & Lodge, right across the street from the start/finish area.

Lining up
(Picture by Mary Pritchard)


The Michigan DNR groomed the race course. There were many tracks set on the lake that served as the start, although a snowmobile messed them up a bit the night before the race. Overall, however, a nice wide start area.

On the course itself, the DNR groomer set tracks for flats and gentles hills, but just packed the trail for most bigger or steeper uphills and almost all downhills. The result? Many uphills that should have been strideable weren't, and skiers were forced to herringbone. The downhills were equally vexing: no tracks down the hill until one reached maximum speed, then WHAM! - tracks that you had to maneuver into at high speed. For newbie skiers, the untracked downhills made it easy to snowplow. For everyone else, they made the downhills more difficult.

Joe Bettendorf on the course
(Picture by Mary Pritchard)

Most racers tended to stay in the left track of the double-tracked course. The right track was frequently uneven, as if the right ski track was both lower than the left ski track, and also tilted to the outside of the ski.

The race organizers had little control over the grooming, but have been trying to work with the DNR to improve the grooming.

Full results are not yet available - I'll post them as soon as I get them. And Mary Pritchard promises more photos!