Getting out and working on those New Year’s resolution fitness goals just got easier.
With the start of the new year comes a bevy of New Year’s resolutions that often go by the wayside by February. Fitness goals have been given a target in the Super Bowl of peninsula ski races, the inaugural Tour of Tsalteshi. The tour is slated for Feb. 18, and race organizer Steve Cothran has given local skiers a challenge.
“Hopefully this’ll help motivate other local skiers to ski more than they would normally do,” Cothran said.
Cothran, along with several other Tsalteshi Trails Association board members, are bringing a longtime cross-country skiing tradition to the Kenai Peninsula with the Tour of Tsalteshi, a marathon event that welcomes all ability levels.
The event comes in two varieties — a full tour of the entire trail system that totals 20 kilometers, or a double tour that totals 40K, essentially two laps of the trail system.
The TTA board scheduled the race to fit in perfectly with the winter and spring racing calendar. The Tour of Tsalteshi will run exactly two weeks before the annual Tour of Anchorage, in which the main event is a 50K marathon.
Cothran said the timing of the race was a key factor in organizing it.
“The idea was, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a tour type of race at Tsalteshi?’” Cothran said. “I thought it’d be great to have something like that for local skiers. The goal is to bring the local community together and have a race for people to train for.”
Cothran, who competed in the Tour of Anchorage several years ago, drew up the 20K course and pitched his idea last January to the TTA board, but the plan didn’t come to fruition simply due to a lack of time.
With a full calendar year to prepare for a 2018 launch date, Cothran said the event is ready to kick off with the help of 15 to 20 race day volunteers.
“Our goal with this is not to have a one-time event,” he said. “We want to see it become an annual tradition in the ski community.
“Hopefully this is something that 10 to 20 years from now keeps going on.”
The freestyle race starts and finishes on the fields behind Skyview Middle School. Bib pickup on race day begins at 10 a.m. Early online registration, which ends Feb. 1, costs $25 for Tsalteshi Trails Association members and $35 for nonmembers, with a student discount that costs $15. After Jan. 31, the costs rises to $35 for TTA members and $45 for nonmembers.
As an added bonus, the first 50 entries are guaranteed a free Tour of Tsalteshi winter buff.
Cothran said he would be happy to see at least 50 skiers on race day, which he believes is an attainable goal with the affordability of the entry fee.
Cothran said the biggest challenge in designing the course was to keep a consistent flow of race traffic through the various loops, a course that avoids intersections and utilizes bypasses to the fullest extent.
Starting from the Skyview soccer fields, racers will file out onto the Squirrel and Owl loops, then roll up Kill Bill hill, back down Rabbit and complete the first five kilometers back on the soccer fields.
From there, racers will jump onto the Wolf loop, lap around Fox, go down the Bear downhill, complete Wolverine and Porcupine, climb up Goat and ski down the opposite side, climb up Bear, and complete Lynx, Coyote, Raven and Beaver loops before popping back out of the woods to the finish line.
Cothran said interested outdoor enthusiasts who aren’t sure of signing up should consider that the race is for all ability levels, ranging from the elite to the rookies who have sparsely been on skis.
He added that a great way to train for the race is entering the Wednesday night Freezer Food Series, the brainchild of fellow TTA board member Jordan Chilson. The series of winter races runs every Wednesday at 6 p.m. behind the school, and features shorter events on courses for skiers, runners, cyclists and snowshoers.
While shorter than Anchorage’s 50K tour, Cothran said Tsalteshi makes up for it in elevation.
“Just work your way up,” Cothran advised. “Six weeks is plenty of time of training.”
That kind of training will be crucial when it comes to scaling the beastly uphills on the course, such as the climbs up Bear, Goat and Kill Bill. The Goat and Bear uphills are both about 150 feet of ascent, and all three are killer climbs that sap strength and punish even the most elite racers, leaving tired legs feeling like cooked spaghetti.
The race festivities don’t end at Tsalteshi. A postrace awards ceremony will recognize the top three men’s and women’s finishers at Kenai River Brewing, along with a bib number raffle drawing.