100. Such a nice, clean number. One hundred. It even sounds nice, doesn’t it? It carries with it a sense of glory, whether it comes written at the top of a test, on the back of a juice carton or, say, in kilometers skied, it endears a sense of completeness, of whole satisfaction.
For weeks we’ve been advertising our 100 Kilometer Ski-A-Thon, a Stratton original that gives us a chance to get in big hours, take lots of holding hand pictures and, most importantly, ask for support from our communities. To those who donated, I am emphatically gracious. No amount of unicorns or rainbows can accurately depict the magic that will be made by your contributions. Here’s a picture of a unicorn dancing amongst rainbows anyway, because I just think you all are so majestic:
To those who didn’t get a chance to donate, the spirit of the Ski-A-Thon lives on, as evidenced by the days old aching on my hip flexors. Information on how to donate below. You, too, can be majestic.
While finishing 100 Kilometers brought with it a sense of accomplishment (compounded by exhaustion and hunger, you know, the usual), I think it’s important to recognize the other 99 plus benchmarks it took to get there. Thus, I thought it prudent to contribute an applause to the intermediary numbers. Oftentimes labeled as “arbitrary” or “sundry” these numbers are just as heroic as their longer digit poster child, and it’s about time they got some credit.
Kilometer 6: Ain’t Nobody Stopping Me Today
The first 45 minutes of our ski were brilliant. We hit the pavement just as the sun began to burn through the eerie Eastern morning fog, creating an atmosphere of golden potential. Think of every sports movie ever made where the protagonist wakes up earlier than his competitors to get in an extra hour of running/drills/hoops/ballet. That was us, that was our hour. In the infant morning sun, we felt nothing but positivity for what the day would hold.
“If we keep up this pace,” said a one Annie Hart, “We’ll be done in a few hours.”
Turns out…it took about six.
Kilometer 14: Well shit, it’s only been an hour.
“You can probably ski for another five more hours, if you had to” Gordon Vermeer cheered for Packer in the first of many short, encouraging videos collected by Erika for his secret skier gift. Probably…if we had to.
Kilometer 26: The second wind. Also, snack time.
When you’re a quarter of the way through something, your mental being reverts back to sixth grade math class. You start envisioning pie charts and graphs with little skier pictagrams on them. You divide and subtract, add and multiply. If it took me x long to go x distance, and I only have y distance to cover, if I have my math right, I might actually not die.
Kilometer 37: I am awesome.
That awkward moment when someone yells “Yeah Annie!” at the top of a hill you just led, and after thanking her for the encouragement, you realize it was Annie Hart cheering for herself. Then Sophie cheers for herself. Then you for yourself. Solidarity in egotism: a beautiful discovery.
Kilometer 43: “Not a terrible place to switch to classic skis”
Just as my inner dialogue began to get panicky about another half hour of skating, it was suggested that we switch to our classic rolls. It was like Christmas coming early. And Santa brought lots and lots of cookies.
Kilometer 55: Congratulations on doing more than half of what was expected of you.
Kilometers 64-89: Elsewhere
Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity dictates a system of causality in which any particular event in the spacetime continuum has a past, a present and an elsewhere. Basically, the things in your past and future are organized in space and time in such a way that you may have a causal connection with them, whereas all the events in your elsewhere are positioned in space and time so that you don’t affect each other.
Now, I can’t say that I have any specific data to back this up, but I’m fairly certain that when an athlete bonks, she distorts the space time continuum, abandoning her body to scatter her mentality amongst the various nooks and crannies of elsewhere.
For my part, I spent a good portion of the final third of our ski wandering through mental oblivion. I don’t remember much, other than that time I thought Holly Hart was a tree, or the time I didn’t speak for 63 minutes. No really. I don’t know what happened. Somehow, my body made it to the final ten kilometers, which brings us to
Kilometers 91-99: Downhill.
Finally, Kilometer 102.6: Wait. Wait. Why are we still skiing?
Oh, right, we had to ski a couple extra kilometers to get that perfect hand holding shot. Worth it.
So really, in the end, the ever famed 100 became the arbitrary number, just another thing to pass. What really mattered, what made the difference and defined the day, was each seemingly unspectacular number that lead to it. God, I love this sport.
For those of you still interested enough to donate (or interested enough to still be reading, and want to save us all from meth and prostitution), you can do so either through the donation link on the SMS T2 website (please be sure to mention which athlete you would like to sponsor in the checkout notes) or by check. You can make all checks payable to the Nordic Elite Fund and sent to:
Stratton Mountain School
C/O Gus Kaeding
Stratton Mountain, VT 05155
All donations are tax deductible, which just adds to the fun.