I've been in love with the Gatineau Loppet for quite some time. It all started back when I was 5 years old and raced the 2 km edition of the Gatineau Loppet! Over the years I increased the distances gradually, and built up to the 51 km marathon. Last year I raced the 51 km skate for my 5th time.
You never really know what conditions you’ll find from year to another… They’re always different, but the thrill and the pleasure of racing the ski trails in the Gatineau Park is my main motivation! Last year I was lucky to race it with Max, my boyfriend, his first experience of the Loppet.
On the Saturday, we arrived at race registration to get our bibs, we saw lots of people we knew and stoped by the XACT kiosk to stock up on fuel for the race. I wasn’t feeling that great as I had been sick for a few days.. but the buzz and of the event soon took over and I found myself getting excited to race the trails once again.
Max and Evelyne at the 2019 edition of the Gatineau Loppet
In the evening, it was time to prepare my kit and of course check the weather at least 14 times! I found myself wondering just how I would get through the following day’s distance with a pounding sinusitis!
Sunday morning we got up, had some breakfast and it was off to Wakefield in the buses put on by the organisers. At the start area it’s evident that today’s going to be a cold one, even by Gatineau Park in February standards… I didn’t even feel like getting off the bus to test my skis, I fell asleep on and off, anxiously ate a Kronobar mango-lemon energy bar, and eventually mustered the motivation to venture outside! It was sunny, and that cheered me up! I stood near the front of my departure wave so as not to get caught in the traffic, Max was next to me.
They gave the start signal, my legs were already soft ... and I see Max slowly moving away, bye bye darling !!
I skied at my own pace, pretty much oblivious to the other skiers… I found myself being passed by other skiers a bit too often for my taste, but gradually I find a rhythm and a speed that I finally get settled in to.
One hour in, I say to myself: “It's time for FRUIT2!” In a long event like this, you have to find distractions to help pass the time. That day, I split the 51 km up into sections where I could eat FRUIT2 at the feed stations. Yes! Each feed station was 1 step closer to the finish line for me.
For the 51 km course of the Loppet, I brought 4 FRUIT2s and 1 FRUIT3 blackcurrant (with caffeine). What I like about XACT products is the variety of flavour, so every time I took a bar out of my bag, the flavour came as a surprise and even helped cheer me up! Yes I know, it doesn’t take so much to make me feel happy haha!
Just before the 30 km feed station, I hear my parents cheering me on. It gives me a little boost and once at the feed station, I hear Lawrence cheering and shouting for me while I drink hot gatorade (don’t judge me! It’s actually pretty good !!).
Then comes one of the most difficult moments mentally, a solid climd, or rather a WALL, that seems to last forever (well actually 20 minutes, but it seemed like the longest 20 minutes of my life!). The last 15 kilometres on the road through the park, a kind of snow-highway, wide and endless, which even though it is downhill, is almost as difficult as everything else!
Nevertheless, I pass a few people and I arrive in the stadium, I see the finish arch and all of a sudden, I feel great! I have a beaming smile on my face because I know that the end is near! I cross the finish, and see my parents, Max and Lawrence are also waiting for me and congratulate me! I even manage to forget for a moment my burning lungs and deadened legs!
In long distance cross-country ski events like the Loppet, there a few things you really need to make it a pleasant experience. Good skis, decent clothes, a nice temperature is ideal, but in my experience, nutrition really is key.
In the past, I often finished my long ski runs completely "broken into pieces" but in recent years, I’ve managed to “force myself” to eat smarter and regularly during the race. XACT and kronobar products are ideal for that! I eat a Kronobar endurance bar (high in carbs and a good serving of protein) 30min to 1h before the start and then I eat FRUIT2 and FRUIT3 about every 45minutes all the way until I’m done. What I love most is they are super easy to eat even in cold winter temperatures because it FRUIT2 bars just do not freeze and the portion size is perfect for me!
The Gatineau Loppet is a superb event and I am happy to have completed it once again, thanks to my favorite little energy FRUIT bars 😋
Evelyne has made it a tradition to race the Gatineau Loppet and share the unique experience with friends and family.
Left to Right : Evelyne Gagnon, Lawrence Colsell (XACT nutrition owner), XACT Julien Lachance & 1st timer Loppet skier, Max Moreau
Evelyne Gagnon is an elite cyclist and skis to cross-train. She races roads, tandems and fixed gear on the track. Her 2019 season highlight was winning Gold for Canada with her team-mate Annie Bouchard at the Para PanAmerican Games in Lima, Peru.