.
The Eclectic Company - Where Every Post is a New Adventure!!
.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday at the Birkie

.

The Birkie was actually held yesterday, but since this isn't "Saturday in my City" I have saved the story for today.

A long, long time ago, in the late 1100's there existed in Norway a political group called the Birkebeinars. They were so called because many of them were too poor to own shoes, so they bound birch bark to their feet instead, thus becoming known as birkebeinars.

A Birkebeinar woman had a two year old illegitimate son whom she claimed was the rightful heir to the throne. The king, whom she claimed to be the child's father, was dead. However, several of the dead king's closest supporters verified the woman's report and were dedicated to protecting both mother and son.

At one time both mother and child were in such mortal danger that the only method of escape was for two of the Birkebeinars to ski the babe many miles across country to safety.

Today this rescue is honored in Norway by several Birkebeiner skiing events. And now, the American Birkebeiner takes place in Hayward, Wisconsin every year at the end of February. The American Birkebeiner course is more than 50 kilometers long, beginning in Cable and ending in Hayward.


We vacation in Hayward, a tiny town population just over 2,600, every July but we couldn't IMAGINE how the 40,000 + people, skiers and observers, were going to FIT in this village. We had no idea how we would find parking.

Turns out, parking wasn't a problem if we were willing to walk a few blocks.

We were more than willing, so we parked in a "not nearly full to capacity" Lutheran Church parking lot and walked into town.


All the action was down on Main Street. I imagine nearly all the 31,000 observers were wandering around the Hayward streets, as were we. The other 9,000 were skiing in the event.

Everywhere we looked, Fisherhubby and I were blown away by the organization.


Skiers were shuttled in school buses to Cable and the start of the race. There they removed their street clothes and stored all their possessions in a white plastic draw string bag which had their ski bib number on it.

All these bags were shuttled back to Hayward where they awaited the skiers return in organized "ques" guarded zealously by several volunteers.


Near the finish line were these ski "stalls."

When we arrived around 10:30 AM, only a few skiers had "come in" thus the ski "stables" were just about empty.


At 10:30 AM only the "elite" skiers had finished. These are the skiers that participate in cross county ski events the world over. They came from many countries, including Norway, but as the finishers were announced - - - and they were ALL announced - - - I did hear a few Wisconsins in the bunch!!!


For the next many hours - - - stretching long into the afternoon - - - the sidewalks of Main Street were lined with people cheering in the skiers.

Many of us clanged our cowbells like the BEST of Mississippi State fans at a Bull Dog football game in Starkville.

Some got bored with the festivities and crawled under the restraining fence to rest on the packed snow. I guess their diminutive size gives them leeway.


These skiers are entering the "home stretch" of Main Street.


And these are already nearing the finish line at the top of the street.


I'm telling you, I ADMIRE their hard work. I couldn't walk that far in a day, much less ski it!!


There was even an Olympic style flame to welcome the skiers to the final "lap."

We saw one young father skier with his toddler son strapped to his chest - - - he had skied the entire course that way I presume. Now that I know the story upon which this race is based, I find that very touching.


By early afternoon so many skiers had come in that the stables were getting full.

Fisherhubby and I had only walked around, stood around, and watched around - - - yet by 1:30 we were pooped and ready for some lunch.

After lunch, we headed to our hotel where I observed this:


Part of the Birkie trail went right across frozen Lake Hayward - - -


Which is in the hotel "back yard." I was able to watch a few of the skiers as they passed by.

Then one skier, who had finished the race earlier, skied right back to the hotel door - - -


Where upon entry he gladly posed for my camera.

Goodness - - - his hair is WHITE, perhaps he is my senior??? Yet HE skied the Birkie like it was nothing and I can't even CARRY his skis!!


Thanks to Unknown Mami for hosting
"Sundays in My City"
To which I am linking this post.
My City today is Hayward, Wisconsin

.
Link

13 comments:

Theresa said...

That looks like loads of fun! I am amazed at the organization of all of those bags! Enjoyed hearing the history of this race!

Have a blessed day dear Keetha, HUGS!

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

What fun and I'm glad to hear well-organized! I've never been a cross-country skier... downhill yes, but NOT cross-country. I had to go on a field trip in middle school and while I fared better than many of my classmates who'd never been on skis. period. I do remember indignantly standing with my hands on my hips and asking my teacher, "Who does this WITHOUT their heels strapped down!?!?"

Tina´s PicStory said...

great shots! :)

Heather said...

Wow - that looks like some race! Thanks for sharing

Jojo said...

And it looks like it was a beautiful day for the race. I'm not a cold weather person so the idea of watching from inside the hotel sounds very appealing!

blogitse said...

It is easier to ski than walk. Skiing you almost fly on snow, and you use hands to help. :)

ceodraiocht said...

HI Keetha - What a fantastic story - loved it, Thanks!

Tara R. said...

Love the backstory on this event. Looks like it was a great success and lots of fun.

StarTraci said...

What a terrific story. I had never heard that before. I love that the tradition has traveled to Wisconsin. Very cool!

Happy Sunday!
:-)
Traci

Debby@Just Breathe said...

That is so cool! Can't believe all the people who attend this. Very interesting story, thank you for sharing it. We took cross country ski lessons years ago at a golf course in Eagle River, WI. It's fun but a lot of work!

Laurie Matherne said...

Amazing story and pictures. I forget how diverse the US is. Cross country skiing is hard. I tried it once or twice in Colorado. Thanks for insight into your part of the world.

La Principessa Errante said...

What an absolutely fascinating piece of history. I too am envious of people that have that kind of athleticism

Unknown Mami said...

Wow, seeing all those bags or whatever they are on the ground is pretty amazing. I love that so many people come together to organize and participate.