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The Mora Vasaloppet

There are a lot of great races in the Midwest, and although the Birkie is pretty much the undisputed champion, the race that comes closest to giving it a run for its money is the Mora Vasaloppet. Like the Birkie, the Vasaloppet is a point to point race that pretty much only exists on the day of the race. You're going through people's corn fields and you kind of get to know every little dip and valley of the race once you've done it a few times. Also like the Birkie, the race is really well run with the proper handling of your gear bags and happy, enthusiastic volunteers. In fact, the volunteers of Mora might actually be superior to the Birkie since you really get the sense that the whole town has embraced the Vasaloppet and they really and truly want it to be the number one Cross-Country event in the region. There's always a good vibe in the air in Mora on Vasaloppet Sunday, and it's worth heading down to check out even if you aren't thinking of racing.

Mora could actually surpass the Birkie except that the trail itself isn't quite as beautiful or challenging as the Birkie trail. Don't get me wrong, it's a great and unique course...however it's exceptionally flat and the 58K go flying by so fast that you might think you're going to have a better Birkie than what is eventually going to be the case.

As I said yesterday, we always used to do the Pre-Birkie/Mora doubleheader (which was kind of a bear) but you can get away with it because Mora is flat. I remember one year that I had decided to do the double, but Frank didn't because he wanted to have a great race at Mora. Well, it turns out that on the day of the Vasaloppet, I had a terrific start off the line, and I got in with a group of guys that were just FLYING down the trail. Seriously, the trees were going past like stalks when you run through a corn field, I've never seen anything like that before or since. To make matters better, I was right at the head of the monster, in position two or three. Frank, on the other hand, was way in the back and he was getting the accordion effect as the group bunched up at small hills, etc. Well, at about 35K, I started to feel the effect of the Pre-Birkie the previous day an I slowed down to try to just get in and survive the day. Frank came by me, but he still remembers that race (with kind of a grumble). Man...I had fast skis that day. Mora Rocks!

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