Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Taking on the FIS World Loppet Marathon Series - ALONE!

Taking on the FIS World Loppet Marathon Series - ALONE

Typing the title of this blog solicits two very different responses from me. The first excitement, the second terror.  

Many would say that I had a good thing going with the US Ski Team and I did. Being on the World Cup is awesome.  The races and competition are top notch. Coaches take care of ALL the logistics spanning pre-race meetings to driving the van - even thinking ahead to where the athletes will eat their next meal. I had a full time ski tech whose sole job it was to wax my skis and full access to the tech team. I had the best teammates anyone could ever ask for. We shared in the triumph and the turmoil. They are training partners, friends, and while on the road, family. The only thing I really had to worry about and plan for was my skiing. 

2 yr old USST photo (pre-Soph) photo credit, Reese Hanneman

So if you didn't think I was crazy before, perhaps you think I am now for leaving all this and more behind. But, as I've explained in previous posts, I'm ready for a new challenge and the upcoming winter will be just that. My ski marathon goals call upon me to schedule and book all my own travel arrangements, accommodations & meals. I have to figure out who will wax my skis and how to realistically schlep an entire race fleet of skis around Europe alone. (In the past my race fleet has consisted of 30 pairs, all different.)  The other day someone well meaning asked if it was an option to wax my own skis. I paused and threw out the comparison of a NASCAR driver being their own pit crew - literally getting out of their race car and switching all four tires themselves while other fully supported racers speed off leaving the unsupported racer in the dust. At this level, it simply isn't possible. 

Photo credit: Rob Whitney 

On top of all the organizational obstacles is the financial burden of funding this endeavor. Life at home is expensive enough as it is let alone jet-setting around the world from Alaska to Italy to Alaska to Austria, to Italy to France, to Wisconsin (USA) to Poland to Switzerland to Norway, and finally back to the states for a season finale in Sun Valley, Idaho before returning home at the beginning of April. (WHEW!)  An average plane ticket to Europe alone from Alaska is $2200 if you make reservations well in advance.  That is just the start.

The goal and the dollars to make it happen are enough to make anyone's stomach churn however I am an optimist at heart and while I haven't figured out the details of how I plan to do this, I have a certain amount of faith that somehow, someway it will work out. I am excited about the prospects of taking on the Marathon scene full time and hope/think/hope again that people can get behind this special project. I plan to race 7 of the 9 scored races and hope to finish in the overall top 3.  Perhaps it's my Alaskan pioneering spirit that propels me to this uncharted territory or my upbringing where my parents told me that "anything is possible" and that, "If you don't ask or try the answer is NO." 

I look forward to the challenge and I look forward to sharing the journey with anyone who is interested in hearing about it. The races and countries that I plan to travel to are fabulous destinations and I hope that through my racing experiences I will help open the door for other Americans to travel abroad as well! I know that I may be preaching to the choir on my blog here but I will stand by my statement that cross country skiing is the single best cardiovascular exercise on the planet. Racing goals be it competitive or otherwise are a great reason to get out of bed in the morning and to the trails or gym. In the depth of the dark winter, particularly in Alaska these small moments, workouts and goals become lifesavers; literally and figuratively. My passion is to inspire dreams and healthy lifestyles for others and this project is my means to do it!  

If you or anyone you know are interested in helping this dream goal become a reality please do not hesitate to contact me at brooksha@gmail.com 

*A special "Thank you" to all of my current and previous sponsors - without you, none of this journey would have been possible! 

Frequent flyer miles, European contacts, and lunch money are all appreciated :) 

My proposed racing schedule for the winter of 2014-2015: 
(Includes 7 of the 9 scored World Loppet races) 

                FIS World Loppet La Sgambeda, 42k Free, Livigno, Italy (Dec 12)
                FIS World Loppet Dolomitenlauf, 60k Free, Austria (Jan 18) 
                FIS World Loppet & Swix Ski Classic Marcialonga 70k C, Italy (Jan 25) 
                FIS World Loppet La Transjurassienne 68k Free, France (Feb 8) 
                American Birkiebeiner! (FIS World Loppet) 50k Free (Feb 21) 
                FIS World Loppet Bieg Piastow 50k Classic, Poland (Mar 1) 
                FIS World Loppet Engadin Ski Marathon 42k skate, Switzerland (Mar 8) 
                FIS World Cup 30k Holmenkollen??? Oslo, Norway (Mar 15)
                Swix Ski Classic Birkiebeiner 54k Classic, Norway (Mar 21) 
                US Spring Nationals, Sun Valley ID (Mar 20-26)

If you're curious to learn more about the FIS World Loppet Scene check out their website HERE. 

In the meantime, I've been busy with my community involvement initiatives working as a healthy here for the Healthy Futures program. I've also been neck-deep in organizing the 6th annual Fast and Female event here in Anchorage. Check back in soon for a full report on that!

 Wearing my cape at the North Anchorage Elementary School Running Jamboree! 

 My neighbor representing :) 

 Just one of the SEVEN races at the North Elementary School Running Jamboree! Great to start healthy habits early on! 

 LIVE on KTVA Channel 11Air, 6am to promote the Anchorage Edition of Fast and Female!

Plenty of company in Chugach State Park

What blog post is complete without a picture of Buggz? 


  1. Holly,
    You are amazing and an inspiration. Best of luck this winter, and maybe I'll see you at the Birkie!

  2. Hi Holly,
    On your race schedule you listed the 68k Skate race at La Transjurassienne on Feb 8 but the World Loppet website says the Marathon Cup race is the 56k Classic the day before. I'm hoping you already know this but I wanted to point it out just in case.

    Good luck on your next challenge!