Before the CSM, I had never skied more than 25 kilometres in one-go. Now, to be fair, I’m no rookie. In fact, I’ve skied since I was 5. As the youngest brother of three boys, my parents set out to find a winter sport that we could do together, as a family during the long Quebec winters. Over the years, this means that I’ve skied alot: for my high school’s ski club, for every family winter vacation; each year, every year. Eventually, when I had my own family, the tyranny of competitive hockey took over, with many weekends spent at the rink instead of the ski trails. So when I began my training for the CSM, I had many kilometres under my belt, and was looking to reconnect with a sport I knew so well. But 160 kilometres? In two days? Never! Or..well,.. I wonder. The curiosity to test my skiing ability was there. The description of this event, “challenges your body, tests your mind and feeds your soul”, raised in me all the things I love about crosscountry skiing. The inherent skiing in me, in my blood, was ready.
And that is what I experienced. I experienced an event that offered up every type of terrain you can think of: narrow trails between trees, open fields, hills both gentle and steep, trails beside roads, through farms. And the distance! My mind removed time and replaced it with visual cues of beauty – be it sunrises, or scenic undisturbed winter farm scenery. By the end, I knew my soul had indeed been fed. It was like every ski trip from my past was woven together into one accomplishment. This to me is the essence of the CSM. Although I may recount tall tales of the conditions to family, and about digging deep to find the energy and endurance to keep going, the story is incomplete without the tails of the spirit. This event renewed all that I’ve ever loved about Cross-Country skiing.