“Have fun and watch out for snowballs,” a voice blared over the loudspeaker.

The state ski championships may be in the rearview mirror, but work — and on this day, that term was used loosely — for the Camden Hills Nordic team was still to be done as 14 Windjammers and many other high school snow athletes converged on Leavitt Area High School on Wednesday, Feb. 26 for the annual and popular Hornet Duathlon.

“The Leavitt Duathlon is always a highlight of the end of the year,” said Camden Hills coach Saphrona Stetson, who coaches along with her father, Richard. “The kids get to come together and not race necessarily for themselves, but come together as teams.”

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There were no team scores kept. There was no finish line in sight, only a football field where skiers transferred from classical to freestyle skis at the midpoint of the five-mile race and where the day’s event concluded.

Upbeat music from the loudspeakers helped warm onlookers and skiers, while hot chocolate also was served.

There were outlandish outfits. Some were dressed for tropical vacations, while others were dressed as iconic 1980s rockstars. There also was a "University of Maine hockey player," marshmallow, dinosaur and banana, to name a few.

“The outfits are always entertaining just to see what some of the other schools come up with,” Stetson said. “This year we’re a rainbow, some are going to prom, and some folks are going to Hawaii.”

The race began between the football and baseball fields with roughly 100 skiers at the starting area, with 10 or so breaking off from the pack early in the race in an opposite direction. Presumably, those were snowball throwers, looking to ensure the other racers would not emerge from the trails unscathed.

Snowballs flew as often on the afternoon as the skis slid across the granular. No one was held out of the crossfire, particularly in the transfer area.

But it all was in good fun.

“One of the things with Nordic racing is we support everyone on the trails,” she said. “The teams support other teams and it’s a way to just come together not for competition per se, but just celebrate the fact that we’re all out here and all skiing.”

It also takes the competitive nature out of the proceedings, and allows skiers of different experience levels – high and low – to enjoy each other’s company and the trails.

“Some of us are better than others, some are still learning,” she said. “Some of us are going to junior nationals and some of us are just happy to make it around the course.”

“And everyone goes home with something to eat,” she said.

Teams from Leavitt, Camden Hills, Edward Little of Auburn, Mount Blue of Farmington, Mount Abram of Strong and Spruce Mountain of Jay participated in the duathlon.

Camden Hills team members include Wilson Gray, Jonathan Liu, Ian Orsmond, Elias Porter, Samuel VanLonkhuyzen, Alma Bournival, Chloe Cognard, Delia Cognard, Eliana Cortese, Allison Gill, Abigail Harrison, Elsie Hildreth, Alley Johnson, Shiyan Kesser, Willow McConochie, Allison Morse, Lillian Nelson, Kathryn Thorn and Claire Wyman.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.