Birkebeiner Bronze

Think birchbark leggings and skinny skis.  And snow.  Lots of snow.  (Like today.)

‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Birkebeinerne Torstein Ske...

‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Birkebeinerne Torstein Skevla og Skjervald Skrukka frakter med seg lille Håkon Håkonsson, kongssønnen, i 1206. Maleriet Birkebeinerne av Knud Bergslien fra 1869 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1206, Birkebeiners whisked the 2-year-old Prince of Norway through mountains and forests to save his life.  Since 1973, the event is marked in Wisconsin with a marathon ski race.

Birkebeiner 1982


Mr. W is in there somewhere.   We’d both tried doing the 54 kilometer (34 miles) American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race the year before.  Back when I thought I was in shape and had handily finished a 10k.

My brother tried to warn me.  He told me to sign up for the Korteloppet, the half-marathon, which he’d done the year before.  He was going back to earn his Birkebeiner medal.  I wanted one, too, not a mere Korteloppet ribbon.

Viking on Lake Superior

Viking on Lake Superior

Heck, no, I said.  I can do it.  (I seemed to forget that I’d been yanked from a 30-mile walk for hunger when I was 16 by a nurse who thought I’d overestimated my abilities.)

Up the hill

Up the hill

After tumbling down a hill and knocking myself in the head with a ski somewhere around the half-way point, I was ready to find the bus back.  It was late in the day and I would have been pulled anyway.  Mr. W made it three-quarters of the way before time ran short.  Humbling.

Okay.  We could blame the poor snow cover that year.  Or our cheap no-wax (no grip, no go) skis.

Defeat is not in Mr. W’s vocabulary.  He returned the next year with slick racer skis and came home with a medal.  Me?  I was home with a newborn.  As good an excuse as any.


IMG_1155.JPG (Photo credit: arahbahn) NOT Mr. W, but another happy camper courtesy of flickr

It was twenty-some years before I got my fast skinny skis;  and no, I have no plans to sign up for the 41st annual Birkie later this month.  They only take the first 10,000, anyway.

Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to ha...

Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure (Photo credit: symphony of love)

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