The best week of the year is here.

Why would this be the best week of the year you may think? It’s the American Birkebeiner this saturday. The 40th one to be exact. People come from all over the world to tiny Hayward Wisconsin to ski in this world loppet event. For me this is my 20th Birkebeiner and I’m officially a member of the Birch leggings club which is for those who have done 20 Birkies. I’m very proud and excited about that. I get to wear a purple bib.

Birkie Finish line

This is the cumulation of 51 weeks of preparation. It’s a time to celebrate not only all the training but time to reunite with skiers you may not have seen for a year. Sometimes I ski in packs with the same skiers and it’s the only time I see them all year but when you ski the Birkie their is a common bond that you have and a respect for the race and all skiers. I don’t care if you are first or last it’s a tough race and anything can happen. For some the goal may to make a certain wave or beat their buddy or it could be just to ski 51 kilometers to downtown Hayward and cross the finish line.

The race is incredible. There is nothing like the start which is a frenzy of people especially if you are in wave one and everyone starts out like they are going to win the race. Then the power line hills are incredibly challenging to start the race. Then it’s all hills until the high point and then downhill for a bit of a rest and then 2 major climbs before the halfway point at OO. It is important to not blow up on those hills or else you won’t have anything for the second half. Once you get to OO(the halfway point of the race) and if you feel half way decent you will have enough for the second half of the race.

There is nothing like crossing lake Hayward and getting to downtown Hayward where 10,000 people cheer every skier on. The winners come in right around 2 hours and they keep coming until 6 pm. I’m usually about 30 minutes behind the leaders and always have a lot fo fun out on this beautiful challenging trail. It’s been an incredible journey for me and hopefully I can get 20 more before my time on this planet is done. I’m dedicating this years race to longtime friend and fellow skier Dave Landgraf who was tragically killed this summer in a bike accident. Dave was a founding member of the Birkie and this would have been his 40th year. We will all miss him very much. I know he will be with us in spirit.

We have 15 patients doing this years Birkie. Congrats to all of you who are doing it. I never feel more alive than when I do the Birkie. It’s funny how 20 some years ago I would take my ski’s off and walk up the hills and be out there all day. it is incredible to see how your body can respond to a good stress you put upon it. Start moving your body and if you are ever up to it, run up to Cyclova xc ski and bike shop and get a bike or some x-ski’s and start using them. Your body and mind will thank you and you will feel so much better and have energy like you have never had before. You can do it!! Until next time, ski fast, not hard, and I’ll see you at the finish line. Dr. E p.s. Congrats to Johnny Olson and Mitch Dulon for qualifying for the state wrestling tourney. Way to go guys!!

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