CALUMET TOWNSHIP - Guy Goode lives in Calumet, and he's been cross country skiing for years, but Saturday was his first time taking part in the Great Bear Chase race.
Goode, who is originally from Flint, said because he enjoys cross country so much, he left his home town.
"That's one of the reasons I came here," he said.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Three of the competitors in the 33rd Great Bear Chase cross country ski race Saturday head toward the start/finish area. In bib number 14 is Dale Keller of Lakewood, Wis., number 79 is Gary Slavik of Elburn, Ill., and number 49 is Jim Washatka of Mellen, Wis. There were 493 competitors in the race this year, the second highest turnout since 2007.
Although he finished the 14-kilometer classic race he entered in 2 hours, 6 minutes, Goode said he thought it would take him about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
"I was very pleased," he said. "The big thing was, I finished."
According to the GBC official results, Goode finished 14th in the men's category, with a time of 2:06:20.7.
Race Director Angela Luskin, community health coordinator with race organizer Portage Health, said this was the 33rd year for the Great Bear Chase, and there were 493 entrants, the second most to the 511 who took part in 2007.
Luskin said racers keep coming back to the GBC in large part because of the care put into the course at Swedetown Trails.
"We've done some major improvements," she said.
Those improvements include a stadium area with the start and finish lines next to each other.
More and better marketing has been done, also, to better inform participants and spectators about the race, Luskin said. Information about the race is on social networking and email.
The race course is groomed very well, also, and many racers have made favorable comments about it, Luskin said.
"Hats off to (the groomers)," she said.
There was 2 feet of base snow on the course, Luskin said. Because there was so much snow in the area, local skiers were skiing right up to the race.
"The snow helped this year," she said.
Participants came long distances to take part in the race, Luskin said, including from Pueblo, Colo.; Iowa City, Iowa; Knoxville, Tenn., and even Germany. However, most of the participants came from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Two of those people who came from Wisconsin were Zack Strom and Jenny Demeules, who ski for a club at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
For Strom, not only was this is first race, he just started cross country skiing in January with the club at UW. The members of the club heard about the GBC and decided to give it a try.
"It was a great opportunity," he said.
Strom said he raced in the 14k Classic race. He finished in 11th place with a time of 1:30:12.4.
Strom said he enjoyed the course, but he tried it out Thursday with less than satisfactory results.
"I fell down twice," he said.
Demeules said she's been skiing four years, but Saturday was her first time for the GBC, and she very much enjoyed the experience.
"It's probably one of my favorite courses," she said.
Complete race results can be found at greatbearchase.com/results/.