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  • Writer's picturerganderson915

The Birkie Blog

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

What better topic for this week’s blog than a little recap of the American Birkebeiner! For those who are not familiar, the Birkie is a 50k point-to-point race starting in Cable and ending on Main Street in Hayward, Wisconsin. The course rolls and winds through the north woods, and more than ten thousand (10,000) ! skiers participate each year.


It truly feels like a giant celebration of the sport with people playing drums along the trail, having campfires, wearing costumes, and encouraging each other the whole way as they make their way to the finish.


The night before the action on Main Street - featuring a Birkie cookie :)


This week, Team Birkie stayed together in a cozy cabin on Spider Lake, ate plenty of pasta, and had a good ol’ time living the life that our team name suggests. :) For some members, it was their last SuperTour race. The end of the season is always bittersweet, and it’s a weird feeling when the best weekend is the last weekend. The season has had ups and downs, but our team has come together into a family lately and I am so thankful for these special people that keep me coming back.


Getting all the goods ready with Leo and Erin!


As for my race, the biggest upside was that it allowed me to empathize with everyone who has ever had a painful Birkie! I've done the race once before, but it was in the 2021-covid-era so it had a different atmosphere. I had a great day that year, and as much fun as it was, it just can’t happen every time.


This year, I got dropped from my pack in the first 4k, fought for the next 46k, and ultimately crossed the line with blurry vision from frozen eyes, feeling some kind of mixture of relief, joy from the cheering crowds lining the finish, and a little bit of heartache that it wasn’t the day I felt I was capable of. But, the ups and downs of skiing are really what make it exciting, so all there was to do was move forward! (to the soup tent)


The "smiling through pain" face


I wobbled to the food tent, commiserated with old teammates and friends about how brutal the last kilometers were, ate some nice chicken noodle soup, and watched as hundreds of tired skiers funneled into the tent either looking upbeat, like a zombie, or somewhere in between. I had to laugh as I thought about how nauseous I felt after every feed, how slow it sometimes felt like I was moving with so much effort, and how many times I wondered “why am I doing this, no seriously why?”


Bowdoin alumni feeling like 1 million bucks after the race!


I don’t have a perfect answer for that question, but I do feel proud I finished, and proud of everyone who got out there and pushed themselves through discomfort. I’ll be coming back to do this race until the end of time, or until I can no longer walk - whichever comes first!! Birkie fever is a chronic condition I guess.


Thanks for reading, I hope this persuaded you to register for next year…?


-Renae


"Throw snow in the air for the picture"


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