As work bee volunteers lay down boards lining the track for the South Cariboo’s prime cross-country skiing event set to go on Feb. 8, Kerry Tunnacliffe propelled herself up a stretch of trail near the Nordics Day Lodge at the 99 Mile Ski Trails.
The Forest Grove resident says the conditions there are really nice with the recent cold snap.
“It’s not too fast and not too slow,” explains Tunnacliffe, stepping out of her skis on Feb. 1.
“It usually takes about six kilometres to warm up,” Tunnacliffe says, adding she will be competing in the 30-km race.
Last year, the Cariboo Marathon attracted 150 entrants. Organizers are hoping for a similar number when the races go on Saturday.
Bib pickup and registration deadline is Feb. 7 between 3 and 8 p.m. at the Nordics Day Lodge.
People can register electronically at zone4.ca by midnight on Feb. 6.
The races see a variety of categories for ages and distances – full marathon (50 kilometres) mini marathon (30 km), juniors (20 km), recreational (20 km and 10 km) and rabbits (10 km and five km).
This year, the course will run a bit shorter on a 12-km loop, which changes the distances some, but it is more spectator friendly, explains Cariboo Marathon committee chair Nicola Maughn
“People will be buzzing through the stadium much more often. I think it will be good.
“Hopefully, next year we’ll be back out on the big (course). But, it will work for this year.”
Maughn adds that volunteers – like the three people with snowmobiles who recently stepped forward to man the Beanstalk Cabin checkpoint, the close to 15 out for the work bee on Feb. 1, and the groomers and coaches donating their time throughout the winter – are the “heart and soul” of the 100 Mile Nordic Ski Society, the marathon’s organizers.
“Everything you see here, that’s maintained and done here, is done by volunteers.”
Tracy Moore, who won the women’s category in the 50-km race last year, adds to Maughn’s point.
“A race like this wouldn’t run without the volunteers and the support of the community.”
Moore, a triathlete, is undecided about entering this year because she has a swim race in Williams Lake that same day.
Still, the longtime society member and local teacher says it was an amazing feeling to win in 2013.
“I certainly didn’t expect that going out there. I don’t know what more to say other than it was a real honour to be able to do that in my hometown. Not many people get that opportunity. I’m very lucky.”
Come race day on Saturday (Feb. 8), the 100 Mile House Lions Club will be serving chili throughout the day and a group from the Canim Lake Band is preparing bannock. Tim Hortons is donating coffee and hot chocolate, and soup and homemade granola bars will be for sale at the lodge.
A dance is planned at the 100 Mile Community Hall following the races. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and awards will be presented at 7.
Maughn talks about the general resurgence of cross-country skiing in recent years.
“Cross-country skiing is one of the best exercises you can do – upper body, lower body, the whole nine yards. It’s affordable, and something the family can do together.”
There’s a big family component to the Cariboo Marathon too, she adds.
“We have 180 Nordic members this year…. Anybody can strap on a pair of skis. If you don’t want to ski, then come out and cheer and have a fun day.”