I made a joke about writing this as a blog post, and Simon sounded very enthusiastic. so here it is.
1) Well, what do you think? The most basic trick in the book: he can decide to switch tracks and then not look at the track he’s switching into. So then he skis right onto your skis while he’s doing it. (Women can also do this, but since women make up a very small portion of the Vasaloppet field, everyone who cut me off was a dude. Hence, from here on, I’m just going to say “he”.)
2) A little bit worse, he can look over, see you, and then switch into your track anyway, as if he just doesn’t give a shit. “My Vasaloppet is more important than your Vasaloppet,” you can see him thinking.
3) He can ski on your pole. Even though I was consciously keeping my poles as close to my body as I could, this had to have happened well over a dozen times. Somehow, even on flat sections, in the tracks.
4) Some people just don’t want to stay in the tracks – after all, the tracks are full and the trains are just not moving fast enough for their blazing fast skiing. So they ski in between the tracks, knocking people’s elbows and generally getting in the way as they go.
5) Downhills. A lot of people in the Vasaloppet do their training by rollerskiing on the flat Swedish roads, and have no idea how to ski downhill. So they’re going, going, going on the flats, pretty fast, and then they get to the downhills and whoooooaaa!! snowplow!
6) ….or worse, they just fall down. That’s definitely getting in the way. It doesn’t help that some folks have old floppy boots from about a decade earlier that don’t give them any ankle support.
7) I saw a few (mostly older) guys with such strange form that their pole plants were reallllllly, reallllllly wide. Like, they could be in the track beside you, but their poles were getting tangled up with where you were planting your poles or maybe even your skis! That’s not a very efficient way to ski 90 k… ouch. it hurts to watch.
8) This one’s a stretch, but all those people who dropped their water bottles or feed containers in the trail. It’s not very nice to ski over a water bottle, or to have to suddenly do a little bit of a hop to avoid one. Come on! Keep the trail clean! At least throw your plastic bottles and gel containers to the side!
9) Digging a gel out of their tights or drink belt: if your poles are still attached to your hands, you have to be careful with what you are doing with those hands! Poles start waving everywhere. More than once I thought I was going to break some guy’s pole that was sticking out like a start wand across my track as he tried to find the correct energy packet in his pants.
10) And finally, this maybe isn’t obstruction, but it is hilarious. At one of the feed stations a guy took a cup of blueberry soup, and then didn’t finish it. He made a gesture sort of like he was throwing it towards the trash can or the side of the trail… but instead he just threw it straight at me. So my whole right side was coated in blueberry soup for the rest of the race. Thanks, dude!