52 weeks to go.

The funnest week of the year is over. It cumulated with the 40th running of the American Birkibeiner race this weekend in Hayward Wisconsin. I did not have my best finish this year but I’m proud of my effort and had a lot of fun out there. I’ve got 20 of them in and am now a new member of the Birchlegings club which is for those who have completed 20 or more Birkies. They had a nice brunch and awards ceremony on sunday and it was really cool to hear stories from famed olympian Vegar Ulvang from Norway who came over with his family and skied the race. John Kotar who has done all 40 Birkies talked about the proud tradition of the race and this club is truly dedicated to the spirit of cross country skiing and keeping this a international event, and an event where we all look forward to seeing each other every year.

This year we did something different after we finished. We went up and watched the skiers at OO which is the half way point. It was great to see the different levels of skiers and the participation and energy they gave was very up lifting. I was amazed how where I ski most skiers carry a water bottle and cruise through or don’t stop at the water food stations. Back at OO where we were many take 5 or 10 minutes at the halfway point and regroup and get their wits and have more than a snack and then off they go for the second half. We were encouraging them that it is all downhill from OO and the lake was fast this year.

Purple pip for 20 years of Birkies

I had met 2 gals who were skiing their first Birkie on friday at cyclovaXC ski and bike shop in St. Croix Falls and they were so excited abut their first Birkie. I ran into them at OO and they looked very fresh and still excited to ski the second half of the Birkie. Good for them. I also saw local pharmacist and good guy Tom Meister at OO. Tom classics the race and looked like he was having the time of his life out on the Birkie trail.

Once you start the race you the course humbles you quickly and you need to just mentally hang in there because physically it will take a toll on your body. I am proud of all the people who did the Birkie. A big way to go.

Me coming down the finish at 2012 Birkie

It was great seeing Emilie Landgraf out skiing the Birkie with her red Ski for Landgraf hat on. Her dad Dave tragically died in a bike accident this past summer. Dave was a founding member of the Birkie and I thought about him often during this years Birkie. I felt Dave was with us in spirit and I know he was with me when I started cramping on mosquito brook hill. I got through it and finished well.

My 20th Great Bear Chase is in 2 weeks in lovely Calumet Michigan. Cross country skiing has changed my life. It has helped me get healthier and fit as a fiddle. I’ve met many people who are friends to this day and some I see once a year while I’m skiing the Birkie. It’s all good. If you ever want to experience an incredible event go up and watch the Birkie or even better try it, it may change your life.

Glad to be done

Until next time, big storm a coming that must mean March Madness. Dr. E

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