It's City of Lakes Loppet weekend!
Though I'm no longer doing much Nordic skiing (it was my main sport back in high school), I love, love this annual urban ski festival in Minneapolis. I volunteered last year with my friend Lindsay (we met on our high school's ski team, so this is a fun activity for us to do together), and this year, Lindsay asked if I wanted to volunteer again - this time, at the skijoring race.
Do you know about skijoring!? I knew about it in theory but had never seen a skijoring race for myself before today. It's a ski race in which the skiers are attached to their pup via a long cord, and the dog (ideally) pulls the skier along to make the pace even faster.
This is a bold statement, Reader, but I think it's my new favorite sport to spectate.
It didn't hurt that bright sun was shining at Lake Calhoun and there were hundreds (thousands?) of people (and tons of dogs) milling around the area, which also served as headquarters for the bike race, kids' races, classic skiing races, vendor village and other events going on today. (The 42K freestyle - or skate-skiing -race and a bunch of other events are tomorrow.)
It also didn't hurt that (unrelated to skijoring) our shuttle from Uptown over to Lake Calhoun was via horse!
There were 10K, 5K and 3K skijoring races, and Lindsay and I were part of the volunteer team that helped the racers line up by bib number, in rows of 10. It was sort of organized chaos, as you can imagine, and I was so impressed by the dogs. (Wish would love the sport itself but would not enjoy the crowds and the other dogs.) The dogs were excited (lots of barking at the start!) but I didn't see any squabbles (canine or human).
One highlight of the event was running into my friend Emily and her pup Doc at the start line. It was his first race!
We helped with some crowd control and then got to watch the start of the races! The leaders were fast. The dogs were having a ball.
The 10K was two laps around the lake's perimeter, which was snow-covered and groomed for both skate- and classic-skiing. I got to see Emily and Doc zoom by at the halfway point.
On our way out of the festival, Lindsay and I made sure to take a picture together (for the second year in a row, so it's officially a tradition).
January was a dismally cold month in Minnesota, and though today's temperature couldn't have been much warmer than 15 degrees or so, it was wonderful to ring in February at an event where so, so many people were out celebrating winter instead of fighting it. It was a fun and refreshing afternoon.