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The Vasaloppet

21/08/2017

The Vasaloppet originated in 1922 as the world's longest cross country ski race, measuring 90km. In more recent years this ski race has been replicated in the summer by a cycle version and, since 2014, a trail race. 

Jo Zakrzewski knew that she was not up to the full 90k but took part in a 45k version of the race as a good test of both a recent niggle and her current fitness. 

Knowing that there were faster marathon runners (including the course record holder) in the field she was determined to let them run away from her off the start, and run her own race listening to her body. 

Although the course took a beautiful route up and down through forests and beside lakes, Jo did not get to appreciate much of the scenery due to the torrential rain. Much of the race was spent wiping her eyes in order to see where she was going......not that there was any chance of avoiding the huge puddles and mud. 

True to form, two of the ladies sped off from the word go and Jo doubted that she would ever see them again. However, she stuck to her plan, spending the first couple of kilometres moving up from 10th to 3rd lady, but from thereon in it became rather a lonely run. Even when the 45k and 90k races converged there was rather a limited overlap of runners at the sharp end of the field. 

Jo caught up with her friend (another Jo) who was running the 90k race with 17k to go (the course markers counted down the distance to the finish in kilometres) and debated easing off to run with her, but fortunately spied the second placed lady some way ahead through the trees. This spurred her on and she eventually caught up and moved into second place with less than 8k to go. 

The gap to the leading lady (the record holder) seemed insurmountable but with a bit of effort Jo gradually reeled her in (the "Scottish" weather obviously helping her splash through the mud slightly more quickly) and finally caught her with 2k to go. 

The last 2k seemed to go on forever as Jo expected to be outsprinted for the win, but she was over the moon to be presented with a wreath to wear down the finishing straight to take the victory in 3 hours and 6 minutes, in 10th place overall! 

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