Seven hearty skiers began the Flatbeiner. At the start five Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team (GRNST) members, Don Camp, Carl Scharphorn, Bob West, Ernie Brumbaugh and Stuart Picard were ready and eager to begin when from out of the Montague hills appeared Ian Gamble, a name from Michigan Cup's past. Bob West, believing that a stated start time is a real start time jumped first and everyone else followed. Bob Smith of Cross Country Ski Shop (CCSS) fame and last years 20-29 Mi Cup champ had decided to make the Flatbeiner his first roller ski of the year. He showed up about 5-10 minutes after we had all left and began the 44 mile, 70.8 K trek all by himself.
At the halfway point, and after a refueling stop at the grocery store in Hart, the standings were first Don Camp, followed by Bob West, both on Aeros, Carl Scharphorn on Black Mombas, Stuart on Aeros and myself on V2 840s. Ian Gamble had only time for 10 miles and headed back earlier. After about eight miles Stuart and I found Bob Smith refueling by the side of the trail in Shelby with the world's largest fanny pack. He had gotten to within a mile or two of Hart and decided to turn the back. The three of us skied in together the rest of the way. Final finish order according to Bob West was Don Camp, Carl Scharphorn, Bob West and our final trio. West had second place salivating in his mouth when with about six miles to go, "Scharphorn passed him like a Smigiel on Germinas." Temperatures were in the 30's the whole day and the sun shone through about halfway through the training event which was won by Camp.
Final Count was 6 Flatbeiners and one "Low-per". We counted Bob Smith as a Flatbeiner even though he technically did not finish the whole course. 70K for your first rollerski workout counts in anyone's book.
Sunday, November 10, is the Super Flatbeiner on the Musketawa Trail from Marne to Muskegon and back. Or if you start with the Muskegon loppers, from Muskegon to Marne and back. Pavement is only 2 and 4 years old and is in much, much better shape than the Hart Montague Trail. Start time is 9 AM sharp according to Bob West, others can start any ol time but if you want company don't be late. Check out the GRNST newsletter or the nordicskiracer events column for details. Bob Smith liked the rough Hart to Montague Trail so much that he couldn't resist the smooth Musketawa trail and plans to drive back down for the Super Flatbeiner as well.
Ski Brule (Iron River, Michigan) opened October 25, could be a good year.
Summer Stinks, Think Snow