American Birkiebeiner Cross Country Ski Race (55km)

Cross Country Skiing is such an epic sport that many people are yet to discover. We discovered the merits of the sport in Finland and when Mark found this race in the US, we had to sign up. It’s the biggest Cross Country ski race in the US and it was to be one of my last tours in the US whilst living there.

February in Minnesota is unforgiving. -28deg temperatures can chill you to the bone. Mark and I wrapped up warm, jumped on the flight and met in the airport to get the hire car and drive north to Hayward, Wisconsin. We settled into a lovely log cabin on the lake shores and set about getting our skiis on for a trial run.

Here’s us on the first run. It’s a little hard to train for skiing in California so the first run was a little sketchy.  We had fun though except… my poor circulation came back to haunt me! My gloves couldn’t hack the cold and went right through and chilled my fingers to the point where I couldn’t feel them. We headed in before the frost bite set in and the moment we stepped inside the blood rushed back to my fingers. NOT a pleasant experience. In fact one of the most painful things to experience as the capillaries fill with blood and your nerves kick in. The race the next day was going to be tough!!

Richard Bray and Mark Power warming up for the American Birkie

Richard Bray and Mark Power warming up for the American Birkie

After a restless sleep, we threw on our warm gear, headed to the start line with David Hayden and Andre Brazier, two Aussies joining us for the adventure.

Richard Bray Warming up before the American Birkie

Richard Bray Warming up before the American Birkie

 

Mark Power on the start line at the American Birkie Race.

Mark Power on the start line at the American Birkie Race.

 

Richard Bray on the Start Line of the American Birkie

Richard Bray on the Start Line of the American Birkie

The start line was fresh and cold. I was worried. 55km on snow with poor circulation was going to make for a long day!! We set off and I pumped my arms to drive the blood around my body. The race was on.

Our view of the start line at the American Birkie - Wave 12

Our view of the start line at the American Birkie – Wave 12

Power and I settled in to a good pace and enjoyed the scenery and company of hundreds of people doing the race with us.

Mark Power mid race at the American Birkie

Mark Power mid race at the American Birkie

 

Skiiers during the American Birkie Race

Skiiers during the American Birkie Race

6 and 1/2 hours later, Power and I crept towards the finish line. I had no feeling in my fingers and we were hurting from the lack of CC training. Happy to be done and ready for a beer. We hit the showers to warm up and get ready for the night ahead. Andrew and Dave did well in their 20km race and they too prepared themselves for the night adventure. Another Pissfit tour complete. A solid performance in this 2 bottle tour.

 

Pissfit Tours. 2 Bottle Event

Pissfit Tours. 2 Bottle Event

Unfortunately my fingers did not fair well. They took quite sometime to warm up and I ended up with frostbite in the end of 3 fingers. It took 3 months to get the feeling back in those finger tips!!

 

The Pissfit tour team.

The Pissfit tour team.

 

Temperature during the American Birkie race

Temperature during the American Birkie race

 

 

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