While the Noquemanon Ski Marathon, which took place from Friday, Jan. 25 through Sunday, Jan. 27, beckoned only a handful of students to compete this winter, two Northern students who did partake did so with the encouragement of a special guest.
For seniors Sarah Miller and Lindsey Wilkinson, the race was more than just a workout or competition and turned out to be an opportunity for quality time with their dads.
“I skied the 50-kilometer classic touring with my dad,” said Wilkinson, an athletic training major. “He flew in from Colorado and we skied the whole thing together.”
Miller, too, skied with her dad, but in the 24k classic event of the Noquemanon.
“It was nice that I actually did it with my dad,” Miller said. “I ski for fun quite a bit, but he came up (from Wausau, Wisc.) for the weekend and we did [the race]. It was just like a father-daughter thing.
“It wasn’t super competitive or anything. We just did it for fun, and he’s like Mr. Nature, so we just went out there and enjoyed it.”
The course, which in 50 total kilometers runs from the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming to the Superior Dome in Marquette, travels near Deer Lake in Ishpeming before winding up to a high point on Granite Peak, followed by the Dead River Basin and eventually Tourist Park— all while following the Noquemanon Trail System.
“It was beautiful,” Miller said. “It had snowed a ton and until we got to Marquette there were good conditions. But it was just kind of slow and laid back with my dad.”
Wilkinson said being the first skiers on the trail on Saturday morning made her tour a little more difficult.
“The first 12 kilometers were slow because we started at 8 a.m., which was an hour before everyone else,” she said. “We had to break trail because there were no skiers in front of us. It made us slower by a lot.”
Regardless of speed, the commitment to train for a 15- or 30-mile cross-country ski tour or race is a lot to handle in the first weeks of the semester for students.
This was a challenge that Miller, an elementary education major, had to overcome in preparation of the 15-mile classic race on Saturday morning.
“I just started my methods program because I’m elementary (education),” Miller said. “That’s quite time-consuming. It is hard though, especially skiing because it’s such a long process. You can’t really go for a quick little ski anywhere unless you go to the Fit Strip.”
Wilkinson said she didn’t train substantially for the race, but she had done most of her preparation while she was home in Steamboat Springs, Colo. over Christmas Break.
“I hardly trained because there hasn’t been much snow,” she said. “But typically, Nordic skiing for me is just for fun. I like being outside in the winter and exploring the area, and Nordic is fun to do because it goes up and down hills and the trails are so close to NMU.”
Miller, who has been training for the Noquemanon for a couple of months, said she trained primarily with a recently graduated friend—Kayla Meyer, who did the 50k skate event in the Noquemanon—but said it wasn’t necessarily competitive training.
“We train together and because she had to train more (for the Noque), I did what she did even though I didn’t have to train quite as much,” Miller said. “But we have been trying for the past couple of months—as long as there has been snow—to get something in for training everyday, even if it’s short.”
And while skiing isn’t something that Wilkinson does very often, she does heed to its definite physical and mental benefits.
“I see it as a whole body workout, mentally and physically,” Wilkinson said. “But it’s also fun to do with friends who have never done it before.”