Friday, 28 February 2014

"Beat the Blues Boogie Loppet"

Bring it on! It’s the 2014 Fast Trax "Beat the Blues Boogie Loppet" on Sunday March 9, hosted by the Strathcona Wilderness Centre

The tradition continues with this edition of the "Beat The Blues Boogie" to raise funds for cancer research in the name of Roger Tetrault, and a fun event to end off a great season of skiing! This is a free technique event; with a classic track for the sit skis and striders.

Daylight Savings, clocks spring forward so you lose an hour:-)

Race Format
  • 9:00am Bib Pick Up - No race day registration
  • 9:45am Pre Call to Start Line
  • 9:50am Race Briefing
  • 10:00am 5km, 10km, 20km and 30km race start - Red course
    • Open Women 10km(2 x 5km loop), 20km(4 x 5km loop) and 30km(6 x 5km loop)
    • Open Men 10km(2 x 5km loop), 20km(4 x 5km loop) and 30km(6 x 5km loop)
    • Para Standing 10km - (2 x 5km loop)
    • Junior Women 10km - (2 x 5km loop)
    • Junior Men 10km - (2 x 5km loop)
    • Para Standing 5km - (1 x 5km loop)
    • Youth Girls 5km - (1 x 5km loop)
    • Youth Boys 5km - (1 x 5km loop)
  • 10:05am 2km, 4km, 8km race start - Blue course
    • Sit Ski Open 8km - (4 x 2km loop)
    • Sit Ski 4km - (2 x 2km loop)
    • Para Stand 4km - (2 x 2km loop)
    • Jackrabbit Girls 2km - (1 x 2km loop)
    • Jackrabbit Boys 2km - (1 x 2km loop)
  • 10:10am 1km Bunnies race start - Green course
    • Bunnies 1km - (1 x 1km loop)
  • 10:10am to 1:30pm Post Race Food and Awards
    • 10am to 1pm - Muffins and fruit available post race next to start finish line
    • 12pm to 1pm - Post race BarBq available next to Skiers Lounge
    • 1pm to 1:30pm - Race awards and draw prises next to Skiers Lounge

Race Distances
  • 1 km Skate or classic: Bunnies
  • 2 km Skate or classic, 1 x 2 km loop: Jackrabbit Boys & Girls
  • 4 km Para 2 x 2 km loop: Sit Ski Open, Para Standing
  • 8 km Para 4 x 2 km loop: Sit Ski Open
  • 5 km Skate    1 x 5 km loop:  Youth Boys & Girls, Para Standing
  • 10 km Skate  2 x 5 km loop:  Junior & Open Men & Women, Para Standing
  • 20 km Skate  4 x 5 km loop: Open Men & Women
  • 30 km Skate  6 x 5 km loop: Open Men & Women
Race Categories*
  • Open Men - 20 and over
  • Open Women - 20 and over
  • Sit Ski Open - any age, LW 10-12 class
  • Para Standing – any age, LW2-9 and B1-3 class
  • Junior Men - 16 to 19
  • Junior Women - 16 to 19
  • Youth Boys - 15 and under
  • Youth Girls - 15 and under
  • Jackrabbits - 11 and under
  • Bunnies – 6 and under
*Youth, Junior and older Jackrabbits may register up categories

Start Time
  • 9 a.m. bib pick up @ Skiers Lounge
  • 9:55 a.m. race briefing at start line
  • 10 a.m. race start; Wave start by distance
Post-Race Bar-BQ
  • Smokies will be available after the event out front of the SWC Information Centre - Skiers Lounge side, starting at 12 noon
    • One free smokie and coke with race number
    • Additional smokies $2, additional cokes $1
      • Additional food tickets can be purchased from SWC Ski Services - (Proceeds donated to Cancer Research)
      • Note: there will be a veggie hot dog and fruit juice option
  • Awards will commence at the completion of the 30 km event at approximately 1 p.m.
Entry Fee
  • $15 for Junior and Open
  • $8 for Youth and Jackrabbits
  • All proceeds donated to cancer research

Register on-line at  Registration end at midnight on March 8. On-line entries only please, no race day entries.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Fast Trax - Final Birkie Recommendation

Fast Trax - Final Wax Recommendation

Canadian Birkebeiner - February 8, 2014

Nothing beats on snow testing, and this morning Jack and I were on the race trails dialing in the final kick wax testing. Our final recommendation follows, discussion notes are below:

Test skis ready to go!

Base: Vauhti Super Base or Vauhti K-Base

Grip wax: Vauhti K18 (alternative Ski*Go HF Violet or Swix VR30)

PowerGrip: If you prefer PowerGrip, the PowerGrip Blue was good this morning. The kick was solid, but ensure to apply thin and smooth so as not to compromise the speed. PowerGrip Green was extremely slippery. 


Base: Rex RCF Black or Ski*Go LF Graphite (alternative Ski*Go C380)

Paraffin: Holmenkol Racing Mix Cold (formerly Matrix Blue) --> this was substantially better than anything else tested and Fast Trax just received an emergency resupply via air shipment.

Given the extremely cold temperatures, ensure that you brush and polish your skis well to remove all wax residue.  




A base layer is certainly necessary to ensure the quality of the kick and durability of the application. The two base layers noted are slightly different than a traditional base layer in that they form a slightly elastic cushion that really adds to the feeling of the kick. 

Based on the conditions, a klister binder is not recommended as this resulted in very slow skis in our testing. 

Grip wax:

The good news is that most things were working quite well on the trails today and we expect this to continue for tomorrow. In general, kick was not an issue and the main differences in the waxes were the speed and free-glide feeling. 

Our testing today included the following:

  • Vauhti K18 - perfect kick, excellent free glide, will continue to improve as the track gets groomed and skied in. You could consider covering with Vuahti K21 for additional speed.
  • Ski*Go HF Violet - perfect kick, excellent free glide. Very good feeling. 
  • Swix VR30 - excellent kick, excellent free glide. Consider bringing along VR40 in your pocket as VR30 has a tendency to lose grip as the new snow gets worked in.
 Very Good:
  • Ski*Go HF Blue - excellent feeling today, however due to the wide temperature range of this wax, durability may be an issue over the course of the race. 
  •  Start Racing Super - excellent kick, slightly slow
Very Reliable:
  • Rex PowerGrip Blue - apply thin and smooth to ensure appropriate speed.  
Not Suggested:
  • Guru Halgier SHL - excellent kick, very draggy. 
  • Rode Green - unreliable kick, slow. Not good feeling. 
  • Rode Special Green - unreliable kick, slow. Not good feeling. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Birkie ~ Optimizing Nutrition

They are off and racing!
Pre-Event Hydration & Fuel Testing

Fuel Needs
  • Sports drinks provide carbohydrate (CHO) fueling energy
  • Weather independent regardless of the weather you still have your fueling needs
Fluid Needs
  • Sports drinks also provide fluids, of which staying hydrated can maintain performance
  • Weather dependent(race day weather dictates sweat rate and fluid intake needs)

Ok so where is the next aid station?

Correct CHO and fluid intake for endurance athletes?
Carbohydrate (CHO) ingestion during exercise has been shown to improve endurance performance but too much carbohydrate and fluid intake may lead to gastrointestinal disorders and therefore impair performance. Current recommendations are 30 to 60 g carbohydrate / hour in  a 6 to 8% carbohydrate solution

It is normal to loose ~2 to 3% body weight during long duration training / racing but don’t OVER-hydrate! Urine needs to be pale yellow (not clear). Over-hydration can cause electrolyte depletion and sleep disruptions.

Practice the RULE OF 15
While training, long workouts, and racing aim to practice the following RULE OF 15.
  • 15 to 25g CHO every ~15 to 25min 
  • 150 to 200 ml of fluids (~8-15% carb solution) (~80 to 120g CHO per liter of fluids)
What type of sports drink?
  • carbohydrate concentration of 5 to 15% 
  • ideally a 6 to 8% on hot days, more concentrated on cool days, i.e. winter:-)
  • ideally a carbohydrate blend of of 2:1 glucose:fructose or maltodextrin:fructose. 
  • a sports drink or gel you have practiced with and have adapted to
  • ideally the same sports drink is available on race day, or accessible in race location
  • a sports drink that, after practicing, still tastes good
Key practical “take home” recommendations leading up to big event, #toolatenow :-)

8 to 10 weeks before target race:
  • always emphasis recovery after training
  • on very prolonged and high-quality sessions take in carbohydrate drink/gels
  • practice fueling and hydration in every long workout with different amounts of fluids and fuels, and different timing (every 10min vs. every 30min) track information.
Last 4 weeks before target race:
  • on every long workout practice fueling and fluids
  • refine & final practice of fueling and hydration race plan into several longer runs.
Week before, know your race course, plan ahead
  • 55km course
  • aid stations at 8km, 15km, 19km, 23km, 29km, 33km, 36km, 43km, 47km and 50km
  • 31km course
  • aid stations at 11km, 14km, 19km and 24km 

After the initial 10km's to start the race where you will not need to hydrate due to nerves you will see an aid station roughly every 5km where you  would aim to follow the RULE OF 15.


If carrying a water bottle;
  • 15 to 25g CHO every ~15 to 25min in
    • 150 to 200 ml of fluids (~8-15% carb solution) (~80 to 120g CHO per liter of fluids)
If not carrying a water bottle and using aid stations
  • Take at least 1 cup of water and sports drink per aid table or 1 to 2 gels with water

Post-Event Recovery
After completing the BIRKIE, #nicejobytheway, you should aim to consume high glycaemic index carbohydrates in frequent small doses of 20-30g CHO every 20 to 30min for the first 2 hrs combined with a small amount of protein based on your body weight.
  • 50 kg / ~110 lbs = ~15g of protein post race
  • 70 kg/ ~150 lbs = ~20g of protein post race
  • 90kg/ ~200 lbs = ~25g of protein post race
  • 110kg/ ~240lbs= ~30g of protein post race

Good luck and have a great Birkie experience. Remember keep head up in the corners and your skis in the tracks, #weareallinthistogether:-)

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Preliminary Birkie Wax Recommendation - Comprehensive Update

Fast Trax - Preliminary Wax Recommendation 

Canadian Birkebeiner - February 8, 2014

Comprehensive Update

This weekend, Will, Paul, Jack, Shauna and I did a significant amount of Birkie testing. As a result of that testing, our most up to date recommendation follows. Discussion notes and conclusion are below. 
The trails are in excellent shape.

Base: Vauhti Super Base (Vauhti K-Base would be a reasonable alternative if necessary)

Kick: Vauhti K18 or Ski*Go HF Violet 


Base: Rex RCF Black or Ski*Go C380 (see discussion here - Glide Base)

Paraffin: Holmenkol Racing Mix Cold (formerly Matrix Blue)



Kick testing. We had a lot of waxes on the snow today.

 Our kick testing today included the following waxes and results (in no particular order after the first two:
  • Ski*Go HF Violet - perfect, bomb-proof, rollerski kick, excellent free glide
  • Vauhti K18 - same kick as Ski*Go HF Violet, slightly slower free glide

  • Vauhti K12 - good kick, too draggy
  • Guru Halgier Extreme - excellent kick, far too draggy
  • Guru Halgier SHL - excellent kick, far too draggy
  • Start Racing Extra - generally not good
  • Start MFW Blue - generally not good
  • Swix Special Violet - good kick, too draggy
  • Rode Super Blue - too slick  

We will post a final kick recommendation on Friday, however given stable conditions I expect our best waxes from today will be very much in the mix.

Additionally, as is often the case, we found that an appropriate base wax had a major impact on the quality of the kick. As the snow is mostly very old and transformed, having a base wax with some cushion (Vauhti Super Base) provided an elastic feeling to the kick that yielded very positive results. You can see more details about the importance of base wax in an article I contributed to here - Base Wax

With respect to Ski*Go HF Violet - we prefer this to Ski*Go HF Blue in hard track conditions. The grip is typically superior to HF Blue in these conditions and the glide is significantly better.


Our glide testing today was conducted in the track using the speed trap. Our testing included the following waxes and results (in order):

  1. Holmenkol Racing Mix Cold - clear winner, far better than the rest, excellent speed
  2. Solda F15 Blue - well back from the winner, Solda alternatives that could be faster may include F31 Blue or F40 Green
  3. Ski*Go HF Green - slightly worse than Solda F15 Blue
  4. Swix LF4 - slightly worse than Ski*Go HF Green 
  5. Toko HF Blue - with the changing conditions the Toko HF Blue has been a good choice ~ updated
At this point, it is highly unlikely that the glide recommendation will be adjusted unless there is a significant change in conditions. Holmenkol Racing Mix Cold is an excellent wax that consistently wins across a wide range of cold conditions.

Jack and I will be retesting kick on the race course Friday morning with our final recommendation to be posted by noon. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Preliminary Birkie Wax Recommendation - Glide Base Layer

Fast Trax - Preliminary Wax Recommendation
Glide Base layer
Canadian Birkebeiner - February 8, 2013

Today Will and I tested base layers for Birkie glide. You can see my discussion as to why base layers matter here - additional information. All skis were waxed with Ski*Go HF Violet as the final layer with the difference being the underlayer. 

The test: Ski*Go HF Violet (control ski), Rex RCF Pink, Rex RCF Black, Ski*Go C380
Our test results (in order of preference) are as follows:

1. Rex RCF Black (Ski*Go LF Graphite would be a suitable alternative)
2. Ski*Go C380
3. Rex RCF Pink
4. Ski*Go HF violet (control ski)

Our test results in order: Rex RCF Black, Ski*Go C380, Rex RCF Pink

A few comments on the results:
  • Ski*Go HF violet was definitely the right wax for the day. The snow was more fine grained than expected, but obviously very transformed. Perfect conditions for this wax and it felt great on its own. 
  • Right away, the control ski was noticeably slower than the rest. Having a hard underlayer makes a big difference.
  • The Rex RCF Pink ski was noticeably better than the plain Ski*Go Violet. However, the Rex RCF Pink was also not as free as the other two underlayers.
  • The Rex RCF Black and Ski*Go C380 were virtually the same in terms of speed throughout the majority of the test.
    • However, towards the end of the test (~35km) the Rex RCF Black was gaining a slight advantage. 
    • Looking at the bases at the end of the test shed some light on this result. The Ski*Go C380 was finally beginning to show some signs of wear, relative to the Rex RCF Black.
    • So... for the 31km race and shorter, either the Rex RCF Black or Ski*Go C380 would be a good underlayer. 
    • For the 55km race, we suggest the Rex RCF Black due to it's superior durability. 
Evidence of wear after ~35km: Ski*Go C380 ski on the left, Rex RCF Black ski on the right. Note the lack of wear on the RCF Black ski.

Admittedly, the temperature on Birkie day is likely to be a lot colder than what we experienced for the test this morning. However, each of the underlayers were faster than Ski*Go HF Violet on its on and that difference will become even more pronounced as the temperature drops. Further, both Rex RCF Black (or Ski*Go LF Graphite) and Ski*Go C380 are excellent cold weather waxes and it is highly probably that they would win by an even wider margin with colder temperatures. 


The video below shows the application and ironing of Rex RCF Pink. However, the process is exactly the same for RCF Black. Both are incredibly hard waxes = get your iron hot. My recommended temperature setting is 150C. Be careful!