Coureur des Bois, North Routt’s monster Nordic ski race, returns
Large, skilled field expected for Saturday’s race
Steamboat Springs — U.S. Ski Team Nordic combined coach Dave Jarrett said he tries his best to ski with his athletes in training, including local Olympic stars like Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick.
It’s not often very easy.
“They’re pretty fast,” he said. “It’s a tall order for me to keep up with them for just a little while, but if I keep my own pace alongside them, there’s some solidarity there, and it keeps the guys motivated, I hope.
“When they are doing something hard and are suffering, I like to get out and suffer along with them.”
He’ll certainly have the chance to share in their suffering Saturday, as Jarrett joins Spillane and Lodwick in the North Routt Coureur des Bois.
The race features loops of 45 and 90 kilometershe 90K race starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday from Steamboat Lake State Park. The 45K starts at 9 a.m. Both finish across the street from the lake at Steamboat Lake Outfitters.
“It’s a long race,” Jarrett said. “Ever since we realized we’d be home, Johnny’s been talking about doing it together, but I think he’s going to start a little too fast for me.”
Jarrett and Spillane are ticketed for the 90K, and Lodwick will race the 45.
They’ll be competing in a deep and talented field, one that has taken great leaps in the race’s seven years.
Although it probably won’t hit its cap of 300, it’s coming close.
“We have about 12 states represented, all the way from Vermont to California,” race director Dan Smilkstein said. Tuesday “we broke our record for the field, so we’re well into record territory.”
He said he expects 250 for the two races, and they include all manner of athletes. An experienced runner from Texas signed up, as have professional cyclists and a former member of the U.S. rowing team. They represent the continued growth of Coureur des Bois, which now attracts 30 percent of its skiers from out of state and 75 percent from outside the region.
Organizers assigned the label “National Ultramarathon Cross-County Ski Championships” to the proceedings, not after getting permission from any particular organizing body, but because there’s simply nothing else like the race.
“Who’s going to dispute that?” Smilkstein said. “The race has become a part of the national cross-country skiing conscience. That’s pretty cool. I have a feeling one of these years coming up very soon I’ll open up registration and it will fill up right away.”
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com
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