Jizerská Padesatka

12. The Race That Wasn’t

by Bruce Wharrie – Australian 6 x Worldloppet Master

Five Australians, one memorial race, but where is the snow?

2014 was a slim snow year for the northern hemisphere.  Luckily our gracious Bedrichov accommodation host, Lubos, was duly concerned about the very limited snow conditions and leant us a vehicle to hunt out some skiable snow on Jizerská Hory.  The snow gods continued to be evasive and finally Czech Republic’s Jizerská 50 was officially cancelled.  But….

In memory of some local mountaineers who lost their lives in the Peru Expedition avalanche, several hundred people gathered at the normal start of the race.  Clothed in their race bibs, on skis, bicycles, prams, walking poles, etc the crowd awaited the start signal for the cancelled race.   Our Australian ski group also paid our due respects to the memorial and the Peru Expedition. …..  BANG!….   And the crowd surged forwards, some skied the remaining 200 metres of snow, others pushed their bikes through the sparse snow, others walked or pushed prams forward.  It seemed the race had begun!  On the spur of the moment, my partner, Marg Hayes advised she was “going for it” and headed off on her skis.  The rest of us Australians decided to drive up to Nova Louka and commence walking up to the snowline.  

There was good skiable snow from Kristiánov upwards.  Jim Finnie and myself decided to ski up, up, up to Knajpa trailside café and played strange, unfamiliar card games with the café owner, even though he spoke no English to explain the rules and we spoke no Czech.  We then headed off track (still dressed in our race bibs) searching for some geocaches not far from the race route.   In fact, geocache GC23FHN “ Jizerskohorske rozvodi IV” was finally found right next to the ski trail.   Then……as we emerged from the trees back onto the ski trail, a familiar skier was heading towards us.  Marg had skied, run, jogged all the way out to Jizerká and was now on the final 20km of the 50km Jizerská50 race-course.  Marg advised she will continue to follow the race-course and meet us at the Bedrichov ski stadium.  A quick kiss and she was gone sliding westwards.

Back at the Jizerská 50 finish tent, Jim and I enjoyed a delicious post-race meal with a few other skiers/ walkers.  We received finish certificates for participating in this memorial event albeit no race this year.  The light began to fade, Marg texted us saying she was still following the race-course but mostly jogging as the snow was thin.  The race organisers headed home. 

Darkness enveloped Jim and I in the now deserted tent as we waited for Marg.  And then…. Marg appeared clearly exhausted, cold and tired but very happy.   A truly big day, Marg had finished the entire Jizerská 50km course, on and off her skis.  Marg successfully completed the Race That Wasn’t! but no race certificate! Or post-race meal! Or stamp in her passport! Or anyone to cheer her in except Jim and I.

What a memorable event!

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