IMAGINE SNAPPING ON your cross country skis and then skiing for 220 kilometers straight, taking only brief rests along the way.
That’s 137 miles. That’s almost from here to the Bridge on skis.
That’s exactly what Tom Mahaney, a local businessman, and Greg Nelson, a local chiropractor, recently accomplished in the Red Bull Nordenskioldsloppet (easy for you to say) in Sweden.
It’s one of the oldest and longest ski races in the world. The course lies above the Arctic Circle.
Oh, one more thing. Both Mahaney and Nelson are 62 years old.
Needless to say, they’re avid skiers but over the last two years, while they were planning the trip, the most they had skied was a mere 100 kilometers. Sixty-two miles. They figured the adrenaline and determination would carry them the rest of the way.
They were right.
“In the race, we weren’t competing against each other,” Nelson says. “We were all competing against the course. Everybody supported everybody else. We were all rooting for each other.”
The winner in the race, a Norwegian, finished in just under twelve hours. Mahaney and Nelson completed the course in just over 24 hours. Twenty four hours on skis.
Did they ever doubt themselves and their 62-year-old bodies?
“When we got to the 200K mark,” Nelson explains, “we got to a warm building and went inside to take a quick break and we sat down. And I said to Tom, ‘We can’t sit. We gotta get up and get out of here. This is is too comfortable.'”
They got up and finished the race. A total of 335 skiers finished while dozens understandably dropped out along the way.
“We were exhausted, sleep-deprived,” Nelson said, “but it was fun. It was rewarding.”
For most of us, the sixties are when you start pulling back and easing up. Having a drink or two, enjoying your grandchildren.
For a rare and determined few, the sixties are when you decide to ski 137 miles straight in 24 hours above the Arctic Circle.