The Birkebeiner (aka the Birkie) is legendary among Nordic skiers. With over 9,000 racers, it’s the biggest cross-country ski marathon in North America.
The American Birkie was first run in 1973 and was modeled after a Norwegian ski race of the same name. The race in Norway honored a ski-based rescue of an infant from the Norwegian civil war, in 1206. The baby would go onto to become the king of Norway, and the men who delivered him to safety would be nationally revered for their courage and perseverance.
While hopefully no baby needs saving this February, the race is still a deliciously difficult slog. Average February temperatures in Cable, Wisconsin, are 28º F for the high and 6º F for the low. On the bright side, that’s downright balmy compared to the average temps in January. In other silver lining news, the cold temps mean you likely won’t need the dreaded klister over the 55-km classic course or the 50-km skate course.
New races have popped up on the 100KM Birkie Trail system, recently including fat bike snow races and summer trail running. As long as the sport is human-powered, it’s welcome (though designated times may apply).
Registration opens in May for the following year’s event. Mark your calendar, because the Birkie always sells out.
Photo by Paul Walsh