The course is totally laid out now, so no more blabbering on about that. Once I show you the last three sections, I’m done, so your various body parts can stop exploding because I’m all into the world building at the moment. It is fun, though: you can’t imagine what it’s like until you do this.
So, last three sections:
This happens not long after coming off Hamlin Peak, and it sees the last of the big, fast climbs–in this case, about 450 meters up to North Brother, one of the smaller peaks on the whole mountain complex. It’s at North Brother Switch that the fliers are at 1219 meters/4000 feet for the last time, and after this, from point 3 to point 10, it’s an 800 meter/1600 foot flight downhill, with position 10, Splash, sitting at an elevation of 430 meters/1410 feet.
Then we go–
We’re flying straight north and pretty much flat out for most of it, as points 6 and 7 act as a chicane for the racers. Not a lot of variation in the terrain now, save for the little up, down, up at the West Butte/Hollow/East Butte combination. This section is really where the racers start to pour it on for the finish, and point 7 sees a fair share of crashes due to people getting a little too excited near the end.
The final sprint back to the Start/Finish line. You’re pretty much out of the hills here and rushing towards the end, and the fast turn combination of Wrap Around and Final offer a final passing opportunity before starting another lap or finishing the race. And given the size of this track, those last two turns are big, so one can carry a lot of speed through them if you don’t mind the gee forces. But Kerry knows how to beat that . . .
That’s it: all done. The course is laid out. Now–we are back to the Ready Room, where Vicky is getting the fliers, um, ready:
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
“There are four way a racer will find themselves in this race, and each of you meet one or more of those four points. For you new people who may have been asleep for a year or more, here are each of those points—
“First: you are in the top three of over-all A Team individual standings among all covens. For the first time in a while the three students in the top three are from separate covens: Mórrígan, Åsgårdsreia, and Cernunnos. And for one of those fliers, this is her first time here because of her standings. Congratulation.” Kerry and Alex quietly gave Penny, who was third in those standings, soft fist bumps.
“Second: if you aren’t here because you’re in the top three, then we take next two best fliers from their individual A Team coven standings. For Ceridwen and Blodeuwedd, this means their first and second place fliers are here, and for the other three covens their second and third place fliers are present. There are several new people here this morning, all due to the efforts they’ve put forth on the track.” Penny took that moment to point her thumbs toward the team members to either side of her: her dorm mate Alex, who was second in the coven standings, and Kerry, who was third.
There you have it: the top three racers in Cernunnos are Penny, Alex, and Kerry, in that order. Quite a difference from the “You guys suck, stay out of our way” routine they got at the start of the season from Manco and Darius. And fist bumping–did you ever see anyone on a quidditch team fist bump? No, you didn’t. Because my kids are like real kids, only they know magic. And they’re gonna race on a big ass mountain.
But there’s more!
Vicky paused a moment to collect her thoughts before continuing. “These first two rules ensure we always have a minimum of thirteen racers on the course. We haven’t had the minimum start the race since 1996, and given the level of talent coming up, I don’t expect that to happening again any time soon—mostly due to these next two points—
“The third way to gain entry into this race if you don’t meet the criteria set forth in Points One and Two, is to win a points paying A Team race from the time of the first scheduled race after the last running of this event, up to the last scheduled race before this event. Today we have three racers here because of this point. We have Soroushi Amouzegar from Blodeuwedd, who won a race in November—” She pointed at the D Level girl from Iran sitting with the rest of her team mates. “—Manco Mamani from Cernunnos, who won back in April during the 2011/12 Season—” She nodded at him, sitting at Kerry’s far right. “—and Anna Laskar from Åsgårdsreia, who managed to win last week’s Grand Melee.” The German girl grinned as she was playfully hugged by one of her team mates. “Congratulations: you couldn’t have managed a bigger win than that.
“And fourth and last: if you are a past winner of this race, you are automatically entered in this event, and that ruling remains in place up to a year after you graduate. We had a graduate who was eligible to participate in this event, and she respectfully declined—which is fine. Unless you’re keeping your racing skills sharp after you leave school, you probably don’t want to tackle this course after a year away from any track.
So Manco is there because he won a race almost a year earlier. He’s probably feeling quite humble right now, as he was in this race the year before on position. I should point out that Soroushi is in her second year of racing, but her first full one on the A Team, and Anna–well, we know Anna. And she seems to be happy because she scored the last win possible that would get her into this event. No wonder she’s all smiles. Probably did it to spite Lisa for taking her out just to get to Kerry.
“And the Mount Katahdin course is unlike any any of you have ever tackled. For seven of you, yesterday’s cruse-through so you could familiarize yourself with the track and placement of elevation gates was your first time here, and you are going to be surprised. Maybe people have said this course has the speed of the Green Line, the variation of the Blue, and the technical difficulty of the Red. Even so, this course is nothing like what you’ve run before.
“Three laps of one hundred kilometers each for a total of three hundred kilometers. That’s huge, but for you new people who watched the race last year, that only means if you want to win, you have to fly flat out. Since 1989 there has been only one flier who won with a time of greater than seventy-five minutes, and they did so with a time of 75:24. Every other winner has has beat seventy-five minutes, and we’re getting closer to beating the seventy minute mark—thought for a moment we were going to do it last year.” Nearly everyone in the room cast a glance towards Rivânia Suassuna, who won the race the year before with a time of 71:07. “This means covering four kilometers every minute, and that means an average speed of two hundred forty kilometers an hour.
“I know what you new people are thinking: that shouldn’t be that hard. And it isn’t—until you fly into a switch back at two hundred, that is, or sail over a hump at over two-fifty, or do the five hundred meters drop off from High Dive to Basin Ridge at better than three hundred kph, and then you’ll probably begin to wonder what the hell you’re doing zipping around a mountain in Maine on a cold Saturday morning.” She looked over her shoulder at the Astronomy instructor. “That feeling is probably going to start as soon as you hear the weather report for the course. Harpreet?”
Should point out that Nadine is in first place in the standings, and Rivânia is right behind her. so there’s your Mórrígan and Åsgårdsreia people in the top three. But Rivânia holds the course record, so expect Nadine to go after that today.
As you can summarize, the majority of the tops in the listings have the majority of the wins, if only three people outside the top two or three in a coven are racing here. Which makes sense, because the top thirteen people there will have nearly all the wins, because they are the best. And in case you’re wondering–and I know some are–in third place over on the Mórrígan coven team sits Emma, and she probably as happy as Kerry to have made the show.
Sure, I gotta do some running around tonight, but . . . the briefing is near the end.
And then we can get to the good stuff.