BANGOR, Maine— The entrance to the Bangor City Forest off Stillwater Avenue was a busy blur of color and excitement Sunday morning as more than 100 cross-country skiers took to the woods for the 24th Great Caribou Bog Wicked Winter Ski Tour and Race.
Skiers — clad in chartreuse spandex race suits, in red woolen knickers, in jeans and sweaters, and at least one brave soul in a tartan kilt — swarmed through the trees from the parking area to the nearby start line. They applied last-minute layers of wax to the bottoms of their skis. They limbered up with stretches and warmed up with jumping jacks, their breath puffing white clouds into the cold air.
Racer Jack Rawcliffe of Hampden said he was looking forward to the 17-kilometer race.
“I think the course will be crusty and fast today,” he said, rubbing hard wax on his skis to make them glide faster on the packed trail. Rawcliffe said he had just returned from a vacation and wasn’t sure he was in top form.
“I’m just trying to do better this year than last year,” he said.
How did he do last year?
“Well, I didn’t come in last,” he hedged.
Organizer Chris Dorian of the Penobscot Valley Ski Club said most of the skiers chose the noncompetitive touring option. That more leisurely group started the course at 10 a.m., followed by the racers at 11.
“We really want everyone to enjoy the trail and go at their own speed,” Dorian said.
And the skiers did. Tourers Jennifer and Kris Nelson of Bangor said it was their first time on the trail. “It was nice all along the way,” said Jennifer Nelson, warming up with chili at the Herbert Sargent Community Center in Old Town, at the end of the trail. “I had no idea where I was most of the time, but all the volunteers were very encouraging.” The Nelsons, who said they ski regularly, completed the trail in 1 hour, 55 minutes.
Among the racers, Travis Vicary, 20, of Old Town finished first in the Men Under 50 category, with a time of 51 minutes, 30 seconds.
The first woman under 50 to finish was 48-year-old Dawn Pelletier of Bangor, who completed the course in 73 minutes, 30 seconds.
Bucky Owen of Orono was the first man over 70 to finish, and Sally Jacobs, also of Orono, finished first in the women’s category. Both are veterans of the ski race.
In a conversation just after he crossed the finish line with his friend Frank Woodard of Falmouth, Owen said the trail was in great shape despite the recent rain.
“It was fantastic,” he said. “It’s one of the fastest courses they’ll ever have here.”
New award categories this year honored the best hat, the best kilt, and the fastest skier on classic wooden skis. Ron Logan of Orono was recognized for having participated in the most Caribou Bog tours — 24 of them since the event started in 1984.
Volunteers spent most of Saturday grooming the trail, Dorian said, and also posted themselves along the trail during the event to offer water, directions and encouragement to skiers.
“Everything went exceedingly well,” Dorian said Sunday evening. No skiers were lost or injured, he said, and everyone seemed to have a good time.
Proceeds from the event will support the Caribou Bog-Penjajawoc Marsh conservation project, which is dedicated to establishing an unbroken green corridor from Bangor to the northern end of Pushaw Lake in Hudson.
Complete race results will be posted online at www.pvskiclub.org.