While Vasaloppet is the oldest and largest ski race in the world, the Birkebeiner is the most famous, spawning Canadian and American Birkebeiner society that run Birkie races in North America.
The Birkebeiner has been held since 1932, and commemorates a trip made by the Birkebeiner loyalists Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka to save the infant heir to the Norwegian throne, Håkon Håkonsson, in 1206. Watch the mostly historically inaccurate, mildly NSFW, absolute blast of a Norwegian film Birkebeinerne (The Last King) for a kinda sorta lesson on the origins. They shoot arrows, escape from men on horseback and even sword fight – all on skis. Awesome! Parents may wish to keep an eye on it as there are a few scenes that are inappropriate for young kids- just skip to the fighting on skis.
Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child, painted by Knud Bergslien
The event is classic only and all participants carry a backpack weighing at least 3.5 kg, symbolizing the weight of the then one-year-old king. Until 1991, the start city was alternated between Lillehamer (finish at Rena) and Rena (finish at Lillehamer). Now it runs in one direction from Rena to Lillehamer.
The events include:
· Inga-låmi (ladies – 5–30 km)
· HalvBirken (half – 28 km)
· BarneBirken (kids)
· UngdomsBirken (9–16 years old – 15 km )
· StafettBirken (relay – 50 km )
· FredagsBirken (Friday, original race – 54 km)
· Birkebeinerrennet (original race – 54 km)
I have yet to do Birkebeinerrennet so I have to rely on the interweb. Here is what they report on the food stations:
Sausage and potato chips at the finish sounds really good! Still, not a lot of food for such a long event so we have upgraded the aid stations for our Cookiebeiner – at the appropriate places you can add cookies to the menu.
So here are the rules.
- Pick a distance to ski. You can do any distance and any technique. Carry a pack or not. We will have a “full Birkie” category for those of you who do 54k classic with a 3.5 kg pack. Geoff Wareham, Kev Anthony – this is your event!
- E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know which event you are doing. You can always switch events to move up or down in distance. If you are doing the full Birkie let me know!
- At each aid station distance eat a cookie.
- You have from Monday Feb 22 to Sunday Feb 28 to ski your distance BUT
- Your entry is not complete until you recreate the Birkie scene in the painting above in a photo and send it to me at email@example.com. See example below:
Beckie and Ben in the Birkie – photo by Alex Merrigan, executive producer Mazie Pendleton
- Please make sure your photo is only people in your household bubble and indicate whether we are allowed to share your photo with the whole province. The quality or number of people in it do not matter – no rules – just have fun with it. Knowing the ski community there will be some awesome shots!
- You can send the photo at anytime but until I have your Birkie photo you are not “finished” the event. We will only share photos with permission.
- Bonus points if you send a post event photo with sausage and potato chips!
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Have fun – Go ski!