"There is no such thing as failure, only steps to success." - Gianas Antekoumpo, NBA Player
I always seem to be behind in my blog posts. I have been back from Norway for over a month and I feel like I am still catching up. I did want to do a race report because a chance to race at a World Championship is always special.
Just getting to the starting line was a six-year process. I qualified at my first National Championship in St. Paul. At that time I was a classic Nordic skier that could not go down a hill without falling. There was no way I was going to show up at a World Championship with that skill level. For the next few years, I was doing a mix of skate and classic. My skate technique was a work in progress. I took a few lessons, went to a few ski camps, and spent many hours on the trails.
I was ready to give the World Championship a try and COVID hit. So my goal was again delayed.
The national championship race in Anchorage in January was a dual qualification. It qualified athletes for races in 2023 and 2024. By the time I raced in Anchorage, I was skating the entire course and had only one slight fall from a slip on ice the entire course. I was not fast, but I was ready.
The 2023 Winter World Championship race was held in Skeikampen, Norway a rural area 45 minutes from Lillehammer the site of the 1984 Olympics. Winter sports are serious business to the Norwegians. I expected a good turnout from them with athletes and spectators.
As I arrived at the venue, busloads of kids were arriving. The 200-plus kids included a large number of Ukrainian refugees. As I was waiting for my race to start, many kids asked me to sign their coats or to take a picture. That would never happen in America. Here in Norway, we were a big deal. That was kind of fun. I laughed to myself as I signed coats thinking these kids have no idea how slow I am.
The rest of the pre-race time was spent setting up the transition, trying to keep warm, and chatting with my teammates. Most of them were from Alaska. Transition is grouped by gender and age group. So I knew the two athletes I was racing against. One from America Sheri Sherlock beat me by an hour at the National Championship, and the other was from Austria. All I had to do was finish and I would have a bronze medal.
The race format was pretty simple. First was a 4-mile run followed by an 8K ski.
I lined up in the back and was off at the gun. Right from the start my legs felt like lead. Every step was a struggle. Struggles early in the race mean a long day. The surface was packed but very hilly. Not an easy run at all. It was well marked with plenty of volunteers to keep me on course.
I was right with Sheri until my shoelace came untied. We were the oldest women in the race and when I got back to transition, everyone else was out on the ski course. It would be two loops. It was a series of very large hills. My legs are not strong enough to skate up the hills. I have to herringbone. I just kept plugging along. I would have racers doing the second lap pass me. I knew I would be alone for the last lap. The course was beautiful. The temperature was in the high 30s which meant the course was getting sticky. There was a very large hill right at the end of the loop. I cursed the race director. Why do they all love hills?
As I finished the first lap I saw teammate Sheri. I was tired and must have looked discouraged. She reminded me all I had to do was finish to claim a podium spot. I pushed on and tried to forget I was going to be the last finisher. That is something that has never happened. Race officials encouraged me. Racers on cool-down runs cheered me on. After I climbed that list giant hill I knew I was near the finish. There was one small hill before the finish. There was a race volunteer there who had encouraged me on the first lap. I paused for a moment so that I could look strong as I crossed the finish.
Since I was the last finisher I expected a quiet finish line. To my surprise, every one of my Team USA teammates was waiting for me at the finish line. They loudly cheered me into the finish. They got off my skis and timing chip. Then they snapped the picture you see at the top of this post. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about the wonderful gesture.
I was not happy about being the last finisher, but I did not have a single fall and skated the entire course. I have come so far in the last six years. I came into the race under-trained but I finished. to
My reward was having the bronze medal placed on my neck by the President of the ITU.
Founder & Manager Team CMT
Chris is a triathlete Nordic skier and long-distance runner. She is a three-time participant in the Boston Marathon. In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.
She has appeared three times at the Para Triathlon National
Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Para
triathlon Open Division Champion.
She has won national championships as a physically challenged athlete in Aqualon, Duathlon, Aqua Bike, and Winter Triathlon.
In 2014 she represented the U.S. as a Para triathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.
She has won state championships as an age-group athlete in cycling and triathlon. She has represented America as an age group athlete at world championships in Chicago, Denmark, Cozumel, and Norway. She earned a bronze medal at the Winter Duathlon World Championship in 2023 in Norway.
In 2020 she was named a National Ski Patrol Subaru Ambassador and a USA Triathlon Foundation Ambassador.
She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.
She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” which details her experience as a CMT-affected athlete, and the book “Soup Sundays, A Journey Toward Healthy Eating”.
You may visit her author page at:
Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and find a cure for CMT. We currently have 257 athletes in 43 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Vietnam, Iran, Scotland, France, Turkey, Poland, Norway, Mexico, Wales, Ireland, and Sweden! If you wish to join us visit our website; www.run4cmt.com or www.hnf-cure.org
CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS). It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.
Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance, and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.
Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.
Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.
Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties, and hearing loss.
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