Monday, March 11, 2024

Winter Duathlon National Championship-Breckinridge Colorado


"Sometimes what seems like a push backward can actually be a leap forward."- Janice Kaplan

I did my first race of the season on February 22nd in Breckinridge, Colorado.  I participated in the Winter Duathlon National Championship. The race was a 4 K run and a 4-mile Nordic ski

Right from the start this race was a challenge due to the lack of snow in Southeastern Wisconsin.  The only place I had to ski was a loop with manmade snow in a State Park.  

My original plan was to head to Northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Michigan if needed to travel and maybe take a few lessons.  No one in the Midwest had snow on the ground.  Snow had to be trucked in for the annual Birkebeiner race this year which is the biggest race on the North American calendar.

So I was stuck training on a circle loop. There is one hill on the loop and it was often icy or rutted. Often I did not want to risk injury skiing it.  So I had to be content lap after lap in a circle. It honestly got boring. I would have trained longer if I had trails to ski.

I had signed up for all three races on the weekend; a ski half marathon of 9 miles and a winter triathlon race.  Even before I left for the race I had decided I had not trained enough to do the ski half marathon.

Breckinridge is at 9,600 feet. Last year when I went to Breckinridge for a ski camp I had trouble breathing and headaches. It got so bad I almost left early to go back to Denver. I did not feel better until I got some oxygen.

I tried to prepare by wearing an altitude training mask during my weight training. Perhaps I started too late because it did not seem to make much difference. training  I purchased a can of oxygen at one of the local stores and used it often during my stay. It seemed to help with headaches but not with shortness of breath. I drank lots of water with electrolytes. That did not help enough either.

I decided to check out the race course the day before the race. A couple of inches of new snow had fallen.  The race venue was the Gold Run Nordic Center. It is a golf course in the Summer.  The venue was closed to set up for the race, but we were allowed to ski the course. 

High-altitude snow is often dry snow. My skis would not glide. I fell on my face trying to skate. I ran into this once before at ski camp.  Classic style seemed to work a bit better and my plan was to use that on race day if needed.  There was a ski shop on site and I took my skis there and explained the problem.  The skis would be ready for pick-up on race morning.

Race day dawned with 12 F temperatures. All week the weather report had been for temperatures in the mid 30's.  I did not bring clothes for colder temperatures. It was a short race, but I do hate being cold during a race.

I attempted to do a pre-race run warm-up and knew I would be in trouble. My body did not want to run. I could not breathe and had no energy.  Good thing the run was only 2 miles.

As the race took off everyone around me struggled to run. I had not seen so many walkers since I did the first Boston Marathon in the 90F heat.  I finished the race with a combination of a little running a mostly walking.

The 4-mile ski was next.  I had only one fall when I tried to skate up a hill right at the start and slipped.  The course was rolling, but not technical at all. I have come a long way with my skiing.  I remember when I was a classic skier, I could not go down most hills without falling.

The was on my skis was perfect and I thanked the shop guys after the race. The course was beautiful with the mountains in the background. I was out of breath on the ski portion. I had to stop many times.

I finished in 1:32:44 for 1st in the adaptive division. I would have been 3rd in my age group. I earned a spot on Team USA for the World Championship next year.

I skipped the Sunday race because of breathing issues. I struggled to breathe even lying in bed. I felt like a fish out of water.  By finishing one race I qualified for all races at the World Championship.  I accomplished my goal and did not need the race.

I have lots to learn and I have made lots of progress in the sport. I like the challenge of working on skills. Having a winter race keeps me working out.  I am hoping for more snow next year so that I can properly train.

I am also excited about going back to the World Championships. This year I could not attend because they were on the same weekend as the National Championship.


Chris Wodke

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. She was the national champion in her age group in 2023 for gravel duathlon.


 In 2014 she represented the U.S. as a Para triathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.  


She was the 2023 Gravel Duathlon National Champion in the 65-69 age group.


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; or


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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