Tuesday, April 9, 2002 - Latest News
Ski for Sofie: 24-hr Memorial Ski-a-thon

The world of 24-hour skiing seems an easy challenge - as skiers, how often have you wished that there was nothing to do but ski? On those perfectly sunny days when the track is cut so precisely that it makes skiing as easy as breathing, work and school are that annoying authority that calls us back to reality and prevents us from literally 'skiing forever'. Perhaps it is those memories that encourage many of us to tackle a final, farewell to winter 24-hour ski marathon once March has arrived. Invariably, convincing your body to make the motions of skiing at 3am is never as easy as one imagined. Somehow, the level of mental exhaustion allows one to continue through physical exhaustion and complete whatever goal one had in mind.

The 24-hour ski-a-thon held at the Laurentian Nordic Ski Club in Sudbury this weekend held more meaning than a final skiing fling. At this inaugural event, 100 skiers collected pledges and skied in memory of Sofie Manarin. Perhaps this alone encouraged strong and weak skiers alike to get out of warm sleeping bags and ski another lap. Altogether, $4000 was raised for the Sofie Manarin Bursary that will help juvenile skiers with racing and training expenses.

Two racers attempted the race in the solo category. Unfortunately, the initial few hours were spent on a snow-covered lake that was quickly returning to liquid form, which may have drained a lot of energy from these skiers as well as caused some very wet feet. Kerry Abols completed 270km while Joel Zylberberg finished 200km after the 24 hours had passed.

A number of competitive (6 member) and recreational (12 member) teams of many ages (junior to 'vintages') entered the team category. Apart from skiing, team members were seen walking and snow-shoeing. At some point, the concept of competition disappeared and once fiercely-competitive teams talked of amalgamationŠanything to get through the long night hours. There was a more important concept at work - maintaining unity and keeping one team member on the course until the very end became the new motive. In our sleep-deprived minds, one thing was clear - however much pain we were feeling was nothing compared to the anguish experienced by Sofie's family in this past year.

As a testament to their strength, the Manarin family was ever-present throughout the 24 hours. Sofie's sister and brother, Kate and Brendan, gave us the starting flag and were later seen out on the course with mom and dad (Stephanie and John); grandparents provided chicken noodle soup for dinner and various other relatives were seen walking the course.

In the end, Team Super Heroes logged the greatest number of kilometers. The team made up of Chris Algar, Helen Dyke, Dean Waddell and Emily Hahn completed 430km. Many other 'heroic' racers were seen on the course throughout the 24 hours - including; Matthew Smider (13-year old Laurentian Nordic junior racer) who was on the course nearly all night and completed over 100km for his team; the 'vintages' team whose name belies the energy shown throughout their time on the course, Andrew Dale hockey player donning skis and keeping up with Laurentian varsity members. These and many others made this ski a memorable event that will only grow every year.

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