When you think of cross country skiing, you think of grueling practice sessions, 5 kilometer races, team rivalries and rigorous up-hill climbs. But after the championships are pass, after the winners have made their claim and temperatures begin their rapid incline. After the tough ski season is thought by many to be over with, one thing you’re sure not to expect is another race. Yes, you heard right. Dignified coaches decked in clashing yellow wigs and sugar-high teenagers dressed in varying wacky attire all “racing” to the slowest 5 kilometer finish time in the history of high school skiing. What madness is this!? You may now be thinking, and I’d have to say you’re right; madness is the perfect way to describe the Leavitt Duathlon.

Marking the end of every ski season is the Leavitt Duathlon, a fun race including both techniques of Nordic skiing: one lap classical, one lap freestyle. Teams from across the state rally at the neon orange start line in a large mass of laughing and screaming teens decked in whatever they deem appropriately crazy. The countdown begins, “Get ready!” Leavitt Coach Dustin Williamson yells through a microphone, “Get set… Go!”

And they’re off at a record breaking pace of 1. 2 miles per hour.

When this race first began, it was but a small gathering with perhaps a few snowballs thrown here or there. But over the years it has bloomed into the wackiest race of the season. Many skiers now look forward to this race as a source of bonding between otherwise opposing teams. This is because of the relaxed atmosphere versus the usual tense interschool rivalries plagued by winners, losers, and frustrating .7 second time differences.

Not only the kids dress up, but the coaches do too! In fact sometimes they dress up just as wildly as the kids do! It’s always fun to see what wild creations they’ll come up with to wear over their skiing attire. Even some alumni come back to visit their old teams and watch as the fun carries out, because, even for the spectators, it’s such a fun event to attend! I remember when I was younger, I used to always love to go to my older sister and brother’s duathlon and watch the excitement climb as racers sidle to the halfway point and leisurely change skis from freestyle to classical. Some kids have to switch their boots too so that they must sit down on the dusty couch in the middle of the “race”.

This fun doesn’t go without a reward at the end though, naturally. However, instead of shiny trophies and metals, we get sweet treats! And not only do the first place winners get these tasty prizes, but there is also a raffle for full bags of baked goods and candy.

By the end of the day, after laughs are shared and pledges to remember each other are made, everyone leaves with new and treasured memories. For me, I’ll always remember the epic snow war held partway into the race and how we laughed until we cried and couldn’t ski any longer. This special race is like a common ground for skiers to relate and just plain old have fun in a sport that many may find overwhelmingly intense. I personally cannot wait to see what next year holds for the famed Leavitt Duathlon.

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