The midwest marathon season kicked off with the Pioneer Midwest Seeley Hills Classic on a modified course at the American Birkebeiner trailhead.  Fresh snow and cold temperatures made for perfect classic skiing with a good, consistent kick.  It is hard to beat classic skiing in cold snow.

Adam Johnson testing kick waxes early in the morning. Thank you to Pioneer Midwest as the title sponsor of the race and also for testing and sharing kick options for the race.

On cold days I find that getting kick isn’t the challenging part of the equation, it is finding kick that also glides fast.  Matt selected new classic skis for Caitlin and I this year and we love them.  We chose the Toko green binder and covered it with Rode B310.  This combination proved both durable and fast.  We glide waxed with Toko HP Blue and Swix Marathon (flouro free)

I love the excitement and anticipation as all the athletes line up on the starting line.

The course proved to be challenging with 8 laps that included the Mt Baur climb.  My friend and race nemesis Matt Liebsch chose to double pole the course.  He has been nursing a calf injury and striding has been bothersome.  I have double-poled Seeley in the past but with the cold temperatures, I found that the kick wax doesn’t slow your skis down much.  My overall strength has declined as well so I didn't even bring my double pole skis.  It took most of the race to finally shake Matt.  The race ended in a sprint between myself and Dave Joda. Dave is a strong double-poler and my strength is in the climbs.  I moved my bindings forward the last two laps and was able to relax a bit more in the climbs before returning to -1 for the final lap.  I planned to put in a strong move on the final climb but only grabbed a few meters.  We had a fun sprint to the line, and I was able to get the win.  

It is always special to win a race and it is particularly fun to share a podium with Caitlin.  One of my favorite parts of the Seeley Hills Classic is connecting with other racers at the Sawmill for Soup.  Fun to hear everyone's race stories and looking forward to the next event.  Thank you to the volunteers and organizers for hosting us in the North Woods.