Race report by Hannes Larsson
This was my first participation in the Russian Worldloppet race, the Demino Ski Marathon. A group of three French skiers came together: Boris Petroff, Joseph Luce and I. Boris’ forebears were Russian and he has a sufficient knowledge of the language, which is an advantage, especially when it was necessary to ask the direction when we were lost, because Boris does not use GPS devices. Our flight arrived at the Tsherementievo airport in Moscow in the evening of Wednesday and we stayed at an airport hotel, rented a car on Thursday morning and drove to the Demino sport center, located 350 km north-east from Moscow near the city of Rybinsk. We were accommodated at the Sport hotel at the sport center itself, we just had to walk 300 m to the ski stadium.
At the Demino Ski Marathon foreigners are warmly welcomed. Worldloppet Masters had a bib with their name and the number of Worldloppet Masters they had accomplished printed on it. My bib had the text 27 x Worldloppet Master, Larsson Hannes. In the Saturday 50 km FT race I had bib No. 1 which meant that I started in the elite group. That necessitated to be careful when 1600 Russian skiers overtook me in the first few kilometers. Indeed the level of Russialoppet skiers is very high. Boris told me that whereas in other Worldloppet races he places in the middle of the participants, in Russialoppet races he is in the last 10 %. This bib will be a valuable addition to my collection of some 350 bibs. Another jewel is bib No. 11111 from a Birkebeinerrennet.
The course of Demino Ski Marathon consists of a 15 km loop followed by a 10 km loop, to be done twice. After the climb on the hill above the ski stadium the course of the first loop is practically flat except a couple of descents and uphills over a depression. In the descent to the ski stadium one can admire the view on the mighty Volga river. The second loop is more challenging in the first 5 km with three climbs and a couple of descents that maybe were frightening to slower skiers. But after the turning point the last 5 km back to the start/finish area are again flat, except the descent to the stadium. In the 25 km CT race on Sunday the course was the same with only one 15 + 10 km loop. The total climbs of the 25 km race amount to 173 m, the double in the 50 km race. The course winds through forests and fields, sometimes near houses. On one of the attached pictures the painting on the Sport hotel wall shows the course map and below it the profile (the first 3 km are cut off). The weather was warm, near zero at the start of the 50 km race and going up to +3 °C. On Sunday the temperature remained near 0 °C. It had been warm the previous days and the snow was transformed. Probably most skiers used klister on Sunday. Sunday PM the place at the entrance of the stadium was crowded with families who enjoyed a concert of singers and folkloric dances, in a very festive mood.
A nice pasta party was offered to the participants on Friday PM. During the party Worldloppet Masters were invited to an adjacent room where they received gifts (a Russian winter hat with the text Master Worldloppet on one side and Demino Ski Marathon on the other). The president of the race welcomed the participants. The Russian Iron Lady ski legend Ludmila Kolobanova talked about her experiences and thanked the organizers. I brought the greetings of international Worldloppet skiers. About 60 of them were able to come this year, many more will come in coming years. Boris, Joseph and I had brought 23 copies of my book to the race. The organizers offered them to the skiers present at the ceremony and I wrote a dedication in them.
Our return to Moscow on Sunday PM followed the scheme of the outgoing journey with a few corrections resulting from taking the wrong road. Finally we were in the restaurant of the airport hotel at about 11 PM and enjoyed our well merited dinner. On Monday morning we flew back to Paris, happy with the nice experience of Demino Ski Marathon.