Living the last 25 years in Frankfort hasn’t diminished Rachael Peake’s love of snow.
Peake, owner of Capital Cellars, will be competing in the Slumberland American Birkebeiner Classic 55K cross country ski race Saturday in Wisconsin.
“It’s a really big ski race,” she said. “Races take place all week. Schools shut down, and there are over 1,000 volunteers. It’s like their Derby.”
The race, which is the largest cross country ski race in the country, begins in Cable, Wisconsin, and ends in Hayward, Wisconsin. It covers 35 miles.
Peake grew up skiing in Wisconsin.
“I skied a lot but not so much any more,” she said. “I’ve lived in Kentucky for 25 years, but I ski whenever there’s snow on the ground.
“I’ll sneak over to the golf course and ski there, or I’ll ski down at River View Park. Other people ski because sometimes I’ll use their paths. I don’t know who they are, but I know they’re there.”
This winter it’s been a challenge to do any skiing.
“I drove to Perfect North the end of January,” Peake said, “and I worked on the slopes, went up and down some smaller hills. I was wearing my cross country skis and got a lot of strange looks.”
To get ready for Saturday’s race, Peake ran with a group that meets three days a week at 5 a.m.
“Linda Word customized a training program for me,” Peake said, “and Julie Curtsinger has helped a lot.
“I work full time and have two kids, so I squeeze in time to train.”
Peake has competed twice in the Kortelopet 29K, which is part of the Birkie Week of events. The last time was in 2018, and this is the first time she’ll race 55K.
“In 2018, when I did the half-distance, I finished in the middle of the pack for my age group,” she said. “Hopefully I won’t be last, but if I am at least I can say I finished.
“I’m looking at it as a fun day in the woods. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, but it may be a little to warm for skiing. The forecast calls for a high of 38 degrees, and the snow could be a little slushy, and that may make it harder.”
Peake says the course is hilly with very little flat terrain. On the final mile of the race, skiers cross Hayward Lake into the town of Hayward.
The race began in 1973 and grew to where it now includes races all week including adaptive ski, a junior race and the Barkie Birkie, where people ski with their dogs.
The American Birkebeiner Classic 55K is open to professional and amateur skiers, and it’s known as the Greatest Show on Snow.
It will be streamed live on Saturday, and WOJB, a radio station in northwestern Wisconsin, will also stream the race.
It’s just the event for a skier living in Kentucky.
“People want it to be warmer,” Peake said, “and I want it to snow.”