14. Three mistakes on the way to La Transjurassienne 2010

by Jim Whalen 2 x Worldloppet Gold Master

I registered for the February 13, 2010 La Transjurassienne classic race. This would be my fourth Worldloppet race, but only my second time travelling overseas for a race.  I still had a lot to learn. 

I had travelled for a work meeting in Nashville on Monday from my home in Buffalo, NY (mistake #1). My plan was to fly home on Tuesday, pack, get my wife Laura, and then fly to Geneva through Newark arriving in Geneva on Thursday the 11th.       

On February 9–10, a blizzard hit much of the USA, bringing 25 to 51 cm of snow, impacting thousands of lights.  I was unable to get home, and my flight to Newark was also impacted – I’d miss my connection to Geneva – this trip was doomed.

Laura had different thoughts, however.  As I tried to get to home, she was rebooking our flights to Europe – “you I can’t miss this race because you’ve spent so many months preparing for it”. 

At a rather steep cost, Laura was able to rebook our trip.  We’d fly from Toronto (a 1.5-hour drive from Buffalo) to Montreal, and then to Geneva. 

Due to the storm, I could NOT get a flight from Nashville to Buffalo!  I could, however, get a flight from Nashville to Toronto, and meet Laura there.  BUT – this meant that Laura would have to pack for me!  

If you are a Worldloppet racer, stop for a minute and contemplate having someone else pack for you!  Skis, clothing, waxes and tools, accessories, etc. – stuff Laura knew very little about. I had to prepare a list and walk her through this over the phone.  It was not a pleasant experience for either of us.      

Anyway, Laura drove to Toronto as I flew there from Nashville.  Again, delays plagued me.  It was looking like I would miss the flight to Montreal.  Through texts, I told Laura go ahead and get through security, and get on the flight.  If I don’t make it, I’ll (hopefully) find another way to get there!

Luckily, I didn’t have much luggage (Laura had my skis, etc.) – and I raced through the Toronto airport and made the flight by the skin of my teeth!

On race day I parked close to the start – fellow racers told me “it’s right over there”, “not far at all”, “a short walk”, etc.  Foolishly – didn’t make that short walk until race day (mistake #2).  I could hear the start area, but I couldn’t find my way there as I wandered through a residential neighborhood.  I was panic-stricken – all that travel trouble and cost for a race I was going to miss.  Fortunately, a local Frenchman in a truck picked me up and drove me to the start! 

I completed the 2010 La Transjurassienne in 04:52:49 – past my goal of 4:30 – my Garmin watch that I used to pace myself was one of the things that didn’t get packed (mistake #3).  

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