Thursday, March 20, 2008

Someplace Special - RRH

Wow! What an adventure! I don’t think any of us knew exactly what we were in for. The ski tour not only offered an endurance ski challenge, but an unique experience where several Finnish communities worked together to provide participants a unique blend of sport and culture.

This was my first time traveling outside North America. It took several days for me to adapt to the sensory overload, especially at the start of the ski tour where we were engulfed in the Finnish countryside and its people. Not feeling especially confident in my use of limited Finnish phrases, I relied heavily on “body language” (smiles, thumbs up, waves, etc). (Although the Finnish language was predominant, many other languages filled the air by the 13 visiting countries participants.)

I am grateful for having this opportunity to travel with the Marquette group. They were experienced skiers, as well as, seasoned travelers. I learned a lot about skiing, travel and life from them.

I skied 5 out of the 7 ski days. Each day was unique. The terrain was very diverse. The first day was especially challenging and dramatic as we traveled over steep downhill and uphill trails that led us away from the border Finland shares with Russia. My five days of skiing went like this:
Day 1 - March 7 - 46 km
Day 2 - March 8 - 29km
Day 3 - March 9 - 25km
Day 4 - March 10 – As the toes swells – rest day
Day 5 - March 11 – 33km
Day 6 - March 12 – 37km
Day 7 - Chillin in the Bus
TOTAL: 170km = 105.50 miles

Prior to this event, I usually skied under 8km per ski outing. Doing the 25km Noque and working hard on strength training with my trainer, Shanna, at Design Fitness was very helpful. I am very happy RRH efforts. I plan to do it again! I learned so much by participating.

The skiers involved in the RRH loved the sport and “art” of what they were involved in. People were “dancing” across Finland on skis. It was not a race. It was an endurance test that led you through some of the most beautiful, challenging, majestic, calming, and unpredictable trails. (Sometimes roads!) We were each trying to get to the end of a treasure map and we each found our own pot of gold. Everyone who participated in this event accomplished a lot whether you did every kilometer or 170km like I did.

As others have stated on this blog, the U.P. and the area of Finland we traveled across share many geographical similarities. As I skied across Finland, my interest in learning more about this country and its history grew. My father’s father and mother left different parts of Finland during a time of Russian Oppression in the late 1800s and met each other in the United States. I tried to imagine what could lead me to leave my homeland. I visited the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki and realized there is much for me to learn about my Finnish ancestry and Finland’s history.

When Frida and I first spoke about her plan to ski across Finland and she extended an invite to me, it did not take me long to confirm my interest. I eagerly said, “Yes”. After all, I was Fifty and Fearless! I encourage everyone to be fearless!

To everyone pondering between hesitation and action toward trying something new take it from me via Eleanor Roosevelt…..

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

AKA: SISU (guts)

- Georgeanne

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