23 In ski

birkie 2015.

I got my first pair of cross country skis when I was 12 and spent many fun afternoons skiing at Lake Bronson State Park, trying not to laugh at mom as she careened off the trail at the bottom of a hill. 

If you live in the midwest, cross country skiing is almost a right of passage. Because you have no choice but to get outside and embrace the nearly six months of winter; you learn to love, er, like?, the snow and cold, the frozen toes and nose hair. 

And, every February, we bundle up to spend the whole day outside – a high of 17ºF this year – as Birkie fever descends upon northern Wisconsin. Thousands of skiers from around the world, most in royal blue and red spandex, glide through the woods at the American Birkebeiner, a 55k classic and 51k skate ski race between Telemark near Cable to the finish line downtown Hayward. 

Aside from a serious traffic jam (Nick’s mom, Mary, and I missed the start), race day was smooth sailing. We saw elites effortlessly fly by at OO Trailhead, and cheered for Nick there, at Mosquito Brook and the finish, his fourth Birkie. So proud of him!

Halfway at OO Trailhead (bib 2558)… leading the pack! 


All smiles and looking strong at Mosquito Brook…


Up and over the new-this-year bridge over Highway 63 to the finish…


The finish downtown Hayward…




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  • Kecia
    02/24/2015 at 8:10 am

    That is one way to embrace the freezing cold temps winter bestows on us. Looks like a fun day and challenge. When will you be participating?!?!? ;)

    • erin
      02/25/2015 at 6:24 am

      I was registered to race a couple years ago, but then started IM training and haven’t looked back… yet. I’ll race it eventually! :)

      • Kecia
        02/25/2015 at 6:25 am

        I think you’d rock at it!!

        • erin
          02/25/2015 at 6:26 am

          Thanks, Kecia! It’s a different kinda fit than triathlon, but it great cross training :)

          • Kecia
            02/25/2015 at 6:27 am

            For sure!!

  • Amy
    02/24/2015 at 8:31 am

    That looks like so much fun!

    • erin
      02/25/2015 at 6:24 am

      Thanks, Amy! It really was!

  • Mom
    02/24/2015 at 12:09 pm

    Hahahaha! Yes, I did careen down the hill (& it wasn’t a very big hill either)! We’ll have to come to watch one of these years!

    • erin
      02/25/2015 at 6:25 am

      I remember it like it was yesterday, Mom! Yes, you and Dad will have to make a weekend of it and come watch!

  • Leslie @ TriathleteTreats
    02/24/2015 at 5:30 pm

    Looks too cold to be outside!!! :) Fun though!

    • erin
      02/25/2015 at 6:25 am

      It wasn’t bad, Leslie, but it’s all relative, right?! :) We had a blast!

  • Luv What You Do
    02/24/2015 at 9:55 pm

    Loved seeing your pics on Instagram this weekend! This looks like fun!

    • erin
      02/25/2015 at 6:26 am

      Thanks, Jen! It was!

  • Kelsey @ Happy Triathlete
    02/25/2015 at 10:41 am

    Ah looks like a great day for the race!! I tried skate skiing for the first time this weekend. It is great cross training, but boy is it hard. Haha I’m pretty terrible, but so many of my friends here ski every weekend since we have such easy access to so many beautiful trails, so I have decided that I just need to keep trying. One year you and Nick should come do the Gatineau Loppet :) It’s our version of the Birkie. Though this year it was -38F with wind chill for it…

    • erin
      02/26/2015 at 2:18 pm

      So fun you tried it for the first time, Kelsey! Isn’t it fun?! Technique is key, so it just takes some practice (lessons are helpful, too). The Gatineau Loppet looks fantastic… we will have to make a trip!

  • Kristin
    02/25/2015 at 2:04 pm

    congrats to nick! i’ve never been cross country skiing but would really love to try it. a friend got really into it in grad school in new england. some day!

    • erin
      02/26/2015 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks, Kristin! You’re welcome to visit here any time :) Lots of great trails in MSP!

  • Beth
    03/02/2015 at 12:45 pm

    That is entirely too cold for me to even consider leaving indoors. I have no idea how you guys do it. I mean, I know you adapt, but damn that is cold. Lol! Congrats to Nick!

    • erin
      03/10/2015 at 2:01 pm

      Ha! It wasn’t bad! ;) You’re right, though… you definitely do adapt. That said, I have never been so excited to see 60ºF like it is outside today! Thanks, Beth!

  • Kristin @ SweatCourage
    03/04/2015 at 10:58 am

    Looks like a blast! Nick looks like he was crushing it out there. I would love to get more into cross country skiing, there’s a lot of it in new england! What a great way to stay in shape during the winter. I don’t downhill ski, it scares the hell out of me.

    • erin
      03/10/2015 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks, Kristin! He had a fantastic race! Nordic is a blast… it complements triathlon nicely and is a great way to get outside in our long winters :) I LOVE downhill skiing, too… the adrenaline rush!

  • Danielle @ Eat Primal, Run Hard
    03/09/2015 at 3:53 pm

    Well done to Nick! I totally miss cross-country skiing! You’re about us prairie folk + skiing: my parents bought me a pair of x country skis when I was a kid and I used them all the time!

    • erin
      03/10/2015 at 2:04 pm

      Our parents were on the same wavelength, weren’t they?! Must be a northern Minnesotan / southern Manitoban thing ;) Do you guys ski over there?

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