Should I skip a local race in light of upcoming Birkie?

Q: I have a local race this Sunday which is all up. It’s level 4 the entire way. I would like to get the race in, but since the Birkie 29k is only 5 days later might I be not recovered for the Birkie, which is more important than our local series.

A: Is the Aspen Race the very best prep for the Kortie? Probably not, the Kortie will be a bit more user friendly this year, starting at Double O and finishing in Downtown Hayward. You won’t have quite the treacherous unrelenting terrain of the trails north of OO, but you will still have many punchy climbs and have to deal with the brute of a climb after Highway 77. So, practicing some climbing 5 days out is not such a bad thing.

I think the bigger questions are:

1. Will you be able to reasonably recover from the Aspen Race with travel to the Midwest in the 5 day period.

2. If you are only 95% recovered and as a result go a few % slower for the Kortie, will you still have a great experience at the celebration of the circus that is the Birkie?

If your answer to both questions is no and you might be kicking yourself about it, then you better skip the Aspen Race. If on the other hand your Kortie result is secondary to the whole experience of being at the Birkie and you think the Aspen Race is going to be a cool challenge, – go for it!!!

16-Week Birkie Training Plan with TrainingPeaks

Available through TrainingPeaks, the American Birkebeiner training plan builds from early November, and concludes on the Birkie, February 24th, 2018.

Log your workouts, plan and analyze your training.
Accessible on iPhone, Android, or the web.


We’ve come up with a training plan to meet the needs of anyone who puts a premium on Birkie Fever.

The plan is designed for multi-sport master and citizen skiers interested in participating in the American Birkebeiner and other marathon events.


Complementing each workout are coaches’ notes that provide tips, encouragement, advice and other additional suggestions to consider implementing during your training.

Current CXC Academy members, take 50% off your purchase. Message for a promo code.




2018 Masters World Cup


The Loppet Foundation is thrilled to host the 2018 Masters World Cup, taking place January 19 – 26, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The World Cup event is open to men and women skiers of all abilities who are 30 years of age and older (as of December 31, 2017).

More than 1,000 racers from over two dozen countries will come to compete in up to three individual events, choosing between skate or classic. There is also a relay competition midweek.

Since 1980, the Masters World Cup has been the annual championship of the best Masters skiers from around the word. In 2017 the event was held in Klosters (CHE) and in 2019, Beitostolen (NOR) is the official host. We look forward to seeing you this January in Minnesota!



Busting Myths About Cramping

The VeloNews Fast Talk podcast is your source for the best advice and most interesting insight on what it takes to become a better cyclist.

For decades (almost a century, in fact), we’ve been told that cramping is caused by electrolyte imbalance or bad hydration. But new science suggests that this probably isn’t why you cramp during exercise.

So why do you cramp? It all comes down to something called altered neuromuscular control.

Take a listen:

Swedish Study on the Effects of Drafting and Air Resistance in Nordic Ski Racing

MITTUNIVERSITY in Ostersund has been investigating a study on the effects of drafting and air resistance in Nordic ski racing. Researchers are trying to figure out how much energy and power cross-country skiers can save when they tuck in behind other skiers. Researchers and athletes have reason to believe this can make a huge difference in mass start races.

An ongoing research study is looking to see how much energy and power can be saved by skiing behind others. “Drafting” is not a new concept, and proper drafting techniques are commonly practiced in cycling, however, to date cross country ski sports scientists have yet to prove its relevancy for Nordic racing.

“I absolutely believe that you can benefit from the study, since you can not only focus on how much you can save on skiing behind but also for the one in the very front – how can I optimize my race to give as little benefit as possible to those behind, says Mats Ainegren.

“We want to look at different speeds, because the air resistance increases at higher speeds, and then we want to see what speed has a significant impact,” says the associate professor of sports technology, Mats Ainegren.

The study called for 10 men and 10 women of elite and semi-professional racers, and will release the results in the fall of 2017, just in time for the 2017-2018 race season.

“It’s no news that it’s easier to ski behind, but I think, on the other hand, that you can develop the technology to be first and not loose anything. Sometimes it difficult to be second and third, – so the trick is to find the right method.” – says Jerry Ahrlin.

Source: SVT Sport


Thoughts on Nutrition When Preparing for a Marathon or Long-Distance Race Event or “Carbo Loading Strategy”

Q: My question is really about what/how to eat the week before, night before, and morning of a marathon to ensure my body is as energized as possible. I know carbs are important and also know that a certain ratio of carbs, protein, and fat are required to help your body optimize the benefits of each component. So, I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say about how to eat for race prep, and maybe some examples.

A: When preparing for a marathon or long-distance race event, nutrition can certainly be a limiting factor. Muscle glycogen is the primary fuel athletes use in training and racing. Carbohydrate loading (the infamous, “carbo-load”) strategy has been shown to enhance marathon and long-distance performance by preventing premature fatigue.

For a well-trained endurance athlete, tapering exercise in the final days (36-48 hours’ pre-marathon) while maintaining adequate carbohydrate intake (10-12 g/kg/day) is a simplistic method for using nutrition to your advantage.

Sports nutritionists recommend that endurance athletes consume adequate carbohydrates to promote restoration of muscle glycogen between training sessions, for ideal recovery. Basically-make sure you are eating carbohydrates between workouts for recovery as well as to fuel your next workout. In general, endurance athletes should be sure that 60-65% of their daily calories come from high-quality carbohydrate sources, 12-15% from protein, and 25-30% from fat.

For a marathon (or longer) event, the last meal should be completed at least 3 hours before the start of the race to ensure that timing of energy release is ideal, and to avoid any gastro-intestinal problems. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates (bread, oatmeal, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes) However, some easily digestible fat and protein sources are also needed to help the carbohydrates supply a steady release of energy to the blood. A good example would be a bagel with nutbutter or oatmeal with nuts or butter, or nutbutter, giving you the carbohydrates and fat source.

Keep in mind, however, it is important to be able to supply adequate amounts of high quality foods without causing disturbances to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A pre-competition meal should not stray from foods that you normally eat in your everyday habitual diet.

Carbohydrate drinks have been loved and hated throughout the years. One camp claims that sports drinks before a race cause insulin to spike, and then drop during the race causing a “crash”. Studies more recently show these shifts in blood glucose are to minimal to cause a problem.

Hydration is of special concern for athletes who are exercising for extended periods of time. It’s not uncommon to forget to hydrate when training and racing, however, it is very important to have a hydration strategy in place prior to a race event and to practice regular and consistent hydration while training.

Be careful not to exceed ~700-800 ml per hour during a marathon, as high volumes have been shown to present intolerance problems.  It is key to have a hydration strategy to consume ~150-200 ml periodically throughout the race. If you know the course beforehand, look at the sections of the race profile where you can take a drink effortlessly.

Karmen M. Whitham
CXC Development Coach



2018 Masters World Cup: One Year To Go!

Coming January 19-26, 2018 the biggest age-group competition in skiing will visit Theodore Wirth Park in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota, as the 2018 Masters World Cup (MWC2018) returns to North America.

The MWC2018 will be the culmination of five years of planning by local organizers, The Loppet Foundation, and the American XC Skiers (AXCS) non-profit masters association.


Photo credit: Vuokatti MWC2016

Well over one thousand masters from nearly two dozen nations spanning the entire cross-country ski world are anticipated to take part in the MWC2018. With no qualification process required, adult skiers ranging from 30 to 90+ years of all abilities will enjoy up to three individual races (in their choice of technique) plus a national team relay in all age/gender categories. Opening and closing ceremonies, social events, and Olympic-style medal ceremonies for each race are also part of the annual MWC program.

All MWC2018 racing will take part at Theodore Wirth Park located just a few miles west of downtown Minneapolis. Major improvements will be made, including expanded snowmaking capability at the park; a redesigned stadium configuration; a new event and administration building; and new trail access for the MWC2018 connecting the park golf course trails to two lakes on park property. Construction of all the planned improvements have begun with completion anticipated by Summer/Fall 2017.

“The new infrastructure is going to be great for World Masters, but also for everyday skiing,” says Isaac Kasper, the Loppet Foundation’s Trails Superintendent.

Part international ski festival and part world championship, the Masters World Cup is a celebration of cross-country skiing as a sport for life spanning over decades of competitor ages. All race events start in 5-year age groups making the MWC perhaps the only time adult skiers can actually take part in a ski event with a representative group of their exact peers.

Rotating around the ski world, the annual event was last hosted in the United States by McCall, Idaho, in 2008, with the last North American host site being Sovereign Lakes/ Silver Star, British Columbia in 2011. It is anticipated that next North American hosting slot will be no earlier than 2022, making the MWC2018 an incredibly unique event for any North American master skier.

Longtime USA National Director and current World Masters Association President, J.D. Downing, believes the Masters World Cup should be seen as welcoming and inclusive as any major ski marathon.

“Every year we have USA skiers attend the MWC from a huge range of abilities and fitness levels. The beauty of the MWC format is that everyone has a wonderful time.”

According to Downing, the selection of Minneapolis and specifically Theodore Wirth Park to host the MWC2018 was the result of a strong desire by both American XC Skiers (AXCS) and the World Masters Association to leverage a big city environment to build interest in both the MWC as an event and cross-country skiing in general.

“This really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for skiers from around the world to experience our sport in a true big city setting,” says Downing. “After skiing on really great trails at the park, participants will have their choice of literally hundreds of dining and entertainment options just minutes away. From NBA and NHL games, to world-class cultural events, to the Mall of America — this is going to be anything but the same-old ski experience. This is going to be the biggest XC ski party ever held!”

Loppet Race Director Mike Erickson thinks this will be really exciting for the whole Loppet community.

“We can’t wait to share our great trails with skiers from around the world.”

Understandably, the reliability of snow for the MWC2018 has been the single greatest point of focus in the event bid and development process over the past several years.

“The MWC2018 will be the first Worlds in history that has multiple plans in place for low or no snow situations, says Downing. “The Loppet Foundation has already tested lake ice grooming technology plus remote snowmaking systems so that in low or no snow they can incorporate the extensive Park lake ice into the courses plus surrounding terrain into the expanding golf course snowmaking loops. The fantastic natural snow courses at Theodore Wirth Park are obviously our preference, but everything will be in place for a great MWC2018 regardless of what Mother Nature provides us.”

Registration for the MWC2018 will begin in Fall 2017 via the official website with extensive information already available via and other AXCS membership media over the coming year.


Things to note ahead of the MWC2018:

— Although there is no qualification process required for the MWC2018, all USA racers will need a current 2017/18 membership in American XC Skiers (AXCS). Visit for details on joining AXCS.

— All MWC2018 races are wave starts by age/gender categories. USA racers that have taken part in the 2016 or 2017 Masters World Cup events will automatically have World Masters Association seeding points. USA skiers without points will have the option to petition the USA National Director in Fall 2017 for discretionary seed considerations.

— The MWC2018 relay (2 classic and 2 freestyle legs x 5km each leg) is a national team event with every nation limited to just one team per nation in each age/gender relay category. With a very large USA contingent expected, the AXCS National Director will have the responsibility of selecting all relay teams and alternates immediately following the first three days of MWC2018 racing.

— The 2017 AXCS National Masters will be held on many of the same courses as the MWC2018 and thus will represent an excellent opportunity for North American skiers to preview the venue for the “home” Worlds.

For more information:
J.D. Downing — AXCS National Director 541-317-0217

Amy Oberbroeckling — The Loppet Foundation Communications 612-900-6890