Merino Muster Marathon Mastered by Muscle and Malcholol

Merino Muster Marathon Mastered by Muscle and Malcholol

Hungover International Student Places Third in National Cross-Country Ski Race

Ian Hardenbergh, an international student from Colorado, came second in his age group and third overall out of 200 competitors at the Merino Muster cross country ski race at Snow Farm. The race was 42km long, and he only stopped at 18km to yak and felt “much better after”. How does such an athlete prepare for this? A nine-day bender and downhill skiing all across the South Island. 

Ian started cross country skiing around “12 years old when my older sister got into it and everyone in my family followed along”. He didn’t train “for two weeks before it” and the only training he really did was “just running around Dunedin”. But Ian signed up for the Merino Marathon before knowing he was going on Uni Snow Week, a ten-day trip meeting all the ski clubs from the universities around Aotearoa. 

Ian prepped hard mentally for the race by not “checking the course at all, had goon and drank fluids into the night”. Ian is a fan of the bender to prepare. But not just any bender: “a bender with activity, because it’s about the energy build up”. He reckons “being hungover wasn’t a concern, it’s all in your mind”. 

A lot of this energy came from his support crew of nine other students. “I think the people on the trip really prepared me the most, bringing up the van with a huge cheerleading squad” Ian said. The cheer crew had a range of signs in support of him, saying such motivating things as ‘call me back’ or ‘marry me Ian’ or, one of Ian’s favourites, ‘I’m pregnant with you’. 

However, all these supporters' signs may have distracted Ian from one large race sign directing him to the finish line, as he ended up going the wrong way. However, this small mistake and turn-around did not stop him from placing incredibly well. He was the first on the podium as he placed third. When Campbell Wright, a New Zealand Olympian, took his spot in first place atop the podium, “I had an OUSSC sticker in my right hand, shook his left hand, patted his right shoulder and now Campbell is a part of OUSSC!” laughed Ian. 

Overall, Ian was “so happy I did it, I’m very impressed with myself [with] how I did and just seeing the huge cheer squad just put a smile on my face”. He plans a return to Snow Farm sometime before he leaves the country. 

This article first appeared in Issue 23, 2022.
Posted 7:37pm Sunday 18th September 2022 by Keegan Wells .