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Mullin's MOB Race Report

Marine O'Brien Race 25km Skate

Having skied for Forest Lake in HS, O'Brien was my second home for six winters.  In the five years I've been back to ski racing again this will be my fourth attempt at the MOB race.  Being my "home course" I've been hoping to have a great race here.  So far it hasn't happened.  In 2013 I was boots on the ground in the US for less than 24 hours after a week in Taiwan, 2014 I had the crud, and last year in 2015 I pulled a double header with the Seeley Hills Classic and a company holiday party Saturday before the MOB race on Sunday.

Going in to this race I've been feeling good.  My company party was on Saturday evening again, but I preceded it with an easy course preview instead of a race.  Conditions were about the same as last year, sketchy.  Coverage was mostly there, but there were some thin areas that I expected to get chewed up throughout the race.  It was also very lumpy and getting any flow was going to be a challenge.

I waxed up my well used B skis not wanting to turn any of my other skis into B skis.  My B skis are on the softer side and originally had a cold universal grind on them.  I'm guessing they have less structure now.  I followed the Fast Wax recommendations as I pretty much always do.  The exception this time was that I decided to forego any top coat.  So two coats of LSF-20 followed by two coats of HSF-20.

I got to William O'Brien with plenty of time, got my bib, took a rest break, got a good 20 minute warm-up in with 3 pick-ups, and got a spot on the actual starting line.

You can see me poking my head out just left of center.  My double pole off the line wasn't that fast apparently.
The race plan was to take it out hard to get a good spot in line and then see where things went.  I got a decent start and slotted into 10th and was skating by the time we hit the trail center.  Compare that with last year where I didn't have a single skate until well over 1km in.

Things seemed pretty hot all they way past the tunnel.  I was hanging on to the back, but I was definitely working for it.  Just after the tunnel things started to break up a little bit with a few leaders pulling away and a couple of us coming off the back a little.  I relaxed up the first climb into Turkey Loop following someone who sounded like they were struggling.  I passed them at the top and quickly caught up to Andy Schakel.

Just about ready to start skating already.
Before we hit the top of the last downhill out of the Turkey Loop I was in front.  I got in a nice tuck and this is when I noticed things weren't going to go so well.  First I heard Andy call out on your left, and then I got a more frantic call of on your right.  They both blew me right out of the water on a downhill.  I've generally had pretty good luck with my skis usually finding them average to above average.  Today was rough.  I hate to blame the skis, but today it is hard not to.

I continued to push on skiing with Andy and one other guy through the Rolling Hills Savanna Loop, but I was playing catch-up after every downhill.  As we exited Rolling Hills and made our way to South America the extended downhill really got me unhitched.

Coming through the lap.
I kept pushing, but with the extended downhills over the next few kilometers I ended up skiing on my own.  I felt pretty good about my work rate, I just couldn't translate it into skiing with anyone.  I made it through the first lap and headed out onto the second keeping the effort level high hoping I might find someone who had gone out too hard.

What happened instead was I got passed.  Despite having considerably better technique, the guy who passed me just kept marching up the trail and I could not hold on.  It was a little extra incentive to keep my effort up despite being pretty much alone on the trail otherwise.

The only other CyclovaXC representative, Mike Phernetton coming through the lap.
In the end I finished 12th on the day in 1:22:40, over six minutes off the winner.

I'm fairly bummed about the results.  I felt good today and kept my head in the game, but I just didn't have the right skis and wax.  I'd like to think I could have held on to the chase pack and finished somewhere in 5-10 that were all between 1:18 and 1:19.

Coming in to the finish.
As I expected the analytics aren't very favorable.  Still looks better than last year's Birkie, but a fair margin below the first two races of the year.  I'll take a clunker or two, I just hope I don't miss the Birkie ski selection/wax like today.

SISU and Seeley both had strong results.  Both were also longer.
What's Next
First is thinking about getting those B skis reground.  I felt a couple of catches while skiing today and the bases definitely show some new structure.  I had been thinking about it anyhow and now for sure.

But race wise I'm doing the Nordic Spirit in Duluth next Sunday.  I've only skied at Spirit once, and that was probably 20 years ago.  The race is also only 26k so another sub marathon effort.  Hopefully a little redemption.

Less than four weeks to go to the Birkie.
See it wasn't all bad, I was still smiling after the race.

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