It’s Birkie Fever Week.

This week is my favorite of the year.  Thousands of my fellow Cross Country skiers will be marching up to Cable Wisconsin for North America’s largest Cross country ski race the American Birkebeiner.

This is an accumulation of 51 weeks of training for me so I’m going to be fit and ready to give it my best shot.  This is my 24th year and I enjoy it now as much as I did my first one.  I still get a little nervous this week.  I think it’s because your so excited to see old friends who you may only see this one day of the year but you have this special bond because of the Birkie.

It’s a fantastic event.  If you ever get a chance come up and spectate.  This year will be cold like so many years but you can go in and out of  Anglers bar if you need to warm up or get a hot toddy.  The winners should be coming down mainstreet Hayward about 10:15 am or so.  Generally it’s about 2 hours for their finish.  You want to see some really fit athletes,  these are the guys and gals in the elite waves.

When I was doing the skating race I was usually about 35 minutes or so off the lead pack always around the top 200 racers.  Those days are long gone and now I try to keep in the top 200 of the Classical race which is 55 kilometers and 4 kilometers longer than the skate race.  The Classical race is getting much more competitive and it’s great to see the numbers growing and growing every year.

One of the reasons I love Cross country skiing is because you can get outdoors and enjoy the best of what mother nature has to offer.  While I don’t care for a minues 1 degree start which it seems to be every year, there is nothing like being in the woods of the Telemark trails of the Birkie race.

This year has been a bad snow year so I’ve had to travel to Hyland ski in Blomington or Elm Creek in Maple Grove for man made snow.  For outdoors it’s been Timberland Hills in Cumberland, the Birkie course, or ABR in Ironwood.  That’s the downside of being a skier.  When there is no snow you have to travel.

The Birkie is really taken off the last few years.  They cap the race and registration is full by Sept. 1st.  More and more younger people are skiing, and more baby boomers are getting into it which is great to see.

How about Kevin Rogers who is doing his 35th Birkie and Tommy Krenz doing his 30th.  That’s incredible.  These guys are still in the elite wave and are great skiers smoking most of the kids half their age.  Kevy has done 1500 miles of skiing just for this race.  I bet he has more than 100,000 miles skied.

Cross country skiing is a part of a great healthy lifestyle.  I love being fit as a fiddle inspite of all the injuries I’ve had from other sports when I was younger.   Cross country skiing doesn’t beat your body up like running.  You have to eat well if you want to compete so you have to be on your game year round. Then you can celebrate and most of do after the race at Anglers where we reunite with friends and family and cheer the other skiers on.

The Birkie is really a race where you can celebrate what you  have accomplished not only that day but for all the energy and efforts for the past year.  It’s a great way of living and it’s fun having a little Birkie fever this one week of the year.

Birkie fever I'm a true believer!

Also, congrats to Arne Lagus for doing his 34th.  Whether you are doing your first Birkie or have done 35 of htem like Kevy has it’s a great accomplishment to put your self out there and stretch your self to what’s possible for your life.

My nephew Matthew Edling is doing his first Birkie.  Way to go Matt!

Thanks to Duane Lee for always getting my ski’s running super fast and being a great training partner.  Also, to Dave Leske who I do every workout with . .  Look for Dave to make a huge climb in the the standings this year.  He’s in the best shape of his life.  A big thanks to Audrey Yunker for letting her stay at her cabin every year too.

Ge

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