by Bobbi Henderson

If last Saturday, you experienced goosebumps, an elevated heart rate, heavy breathing, perspiration, followed by an ear to ear silly grin, you may be falling in love, but chances are you were among over 800 participants that celebrated a love of skiing, fresh air, and the beauty of nature at the 35th annual Sleeping Giant Loppet.

2013 Sleeping Giant Loppet: The Boreal Ballerinas. photo by D. McChristie

Our car was packed and ready to go ‘Loppet Eve’ with a cabin rental waiting at Beyond the Giant Nature Retreats for a warm, cozy sleep, and expectations of a post-race celebration with family and friends. On Saturday, we enjoyed a lazy morning and relaxing breakfast before making our way to the park, thanks to an hour delay to the race start due to colder than expected temperatures. Topped off with a warm, healthy dose of sunshine, the conditions couldn’t have been better, and it seemed everybody was in fantastic spirits with
infectious laughter and cheerful faces everywhere I looked.

The brave athletes tackling the 50km race were the first to start out. Looking like a fit nordic tribe decked out in bright and colourful head-to-toe race gear, and carrying their sharp speared tools, it was quite a sight! Finally, it was time for the mini Loppet to begin: the start horn blew, the racers were off, and there we were, the Henderson family… still putting on our skis. Oh well! Despite a delayed start, we had a great ski and it seemed before anyone could say “there goes a pack of skiers in tutus” or “oh my gosh, that women is skiing with her baby on her shoulders,” we found ourselves at the halfway point where cheerful volunteers greeted us with refreshments. It was at this time, and for no other reason that I could tell other than to be able to mention it here, that I fell while waiting for my guys to finish their cookies.

Start of the 50k classic event at the 2013 Sleeping Giant Loppet. photo by D.McChristie

Nearing the finish, the announcer read our names and proclaimed that “a family who skis together, stays together.” It was a great ending and a proud moment as we crossed the line and received our chocolate medals. The organizers and volunteers at the Loppet made the experience fun and skating the 8km race with our children made us realize how far we’ve come as a skiing family in this short season—we have already set a goal to skate the 20km race together next year.

Thanks to the fabulous instruction at the Steps and Strides to the Sleeping Giant Loppet clinic, I have greatly improved in technique and I am thoroughly enjoying the sport. I found the clinic to be such a valuable learning experience that my husband and I plan to attend next year to continue to improve. I can really think of no other family winter activity that is as feasible, portable, healthy and goal setting as cross-country skiing.  Our family has never loved winter so much!