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Re: Birkie

Postby UPrSKr » Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:29 pm

Birkie 2013-2 - web.jpg
Birkie 2013-2 - web.jpg (26.31 KiB) Viewed 2513 times

Karl Walczak was nice enough to let me use his old MTU racing suit for this event. He had many good races at MTU wearing this suit, and the Great Bear Chase (as seen on this year's poster). I think it helped me. BTW, Karl was 38th in this year's Birkie (wearing a different suit obviously) even though he is now in snowless Berkeley, CA.

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Re: Birkie

Postby Raubie » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:15 pm

Montana wrote:...he definitely did the yard sale thing...

LOL! I was almost on the floor reading "Yard sale." Never heard that expression before, Montana. Can't wait to use it (as long as it's not describing me).

Great, great fun reading everyone's stories. It's a huge challenge for citizen racers juggling work/family/commitments with training and racing. So hat's off to everyone.

Glacier Glide
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Re: Birkie

Postby Glacier Glide » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:01 pm

My Birkie story starts the weekend of January 26, when I skied the 50 km OSCR race in Seeley Lake, MT. I had not skied this race since 2010 which is when I did my PB of 2:59 at the Birkie. The OSCR climbs 1,200'~ over a ridge for about 25-30k and then winds its way back to the start. My time of 3:22 was five minutes slower than 2010 but this year the grooming was almost nonexistent--it was a complete slog. So I was thinking this could be a good Birkie year. Fast forward one week with my wife and I spending all day with our granddaughter. Two days later we are informed that our granddaughter is sick, but guess what, both my wife and I have it too. Ten days later I still have gunk in my lungs and am coughing. I go out and ski 25k but the lungs are definitely not happening. On the Saturday before the Birkie I go out and ski again and the lungs and sinuses are still not cooperating. Soon as I finish skiing I call my Doc who is also a skier. He prescribes a Z-Pac probably just to placate me, but I am desperate. By the time I fly out to Minneapolis on Wednesday my sinuses and ears are clear and there is definite improvement in my chest.

Thursday I ski from Telemark to the high point just to re-educate my body from the long gradual climbs to the short steep ones. The lungs are definitely not 100%, but I know I can finish. I head back to my lodging, shower and go to pick up my bib.

Friday is waxing day or in this case rewaxing day. I normally try to wax for all but the final coat before I leave Montana. This year I waxed way too cold on both pairs of skis however--go figure! I decided to concentrate on my Madshus Nanosonics with a Nordic Ultratune cold grind because I knew they would slide better in all the new snow that was piling up on Friday.

I am currently in a transition period with glide waxes. Over the last 8-10 years I have pretty much stuck with Solda glide waxes. I have been impressed over the last couple of years with Boulder Mountain Sports entry and enthusiasm into the waxing fray. I did not have the Holmenkol Mid-08 powder they were recommending, but I did have the SkiGo 105 which was fourth in their testing. I did buy the Holmenkol mid block to use as a top coat. Needless to say, my ski were rockets. I was never passed on a downhill but once(explanation to follow), and I was constantly gliding up on people on the uphill side.

A friend from Madison, WI had a car parked in the lot on the west side of Telemark lodge so we hung out there instead of the crowded lodge. We hung out too long as we got to the start with five minutes to spare. No front of line this year. Slow going until the power lines then you could get around people that were too exuberant in the start.

I knew snowmobile hill was coming at 10k~ so I sped up so that there was space between me and the skiers behind me. By the second wave the inside track is always washed out so I take a wider line then step into the turn just past the bottom. I just hit the bottom and made my first step when this guy screamed "hey" at me, hit the washed out section and slid right into me, taking me out and spinning me around so that I was facing uphill--not a pleasant sight with skiers barreling down on you around a blind curve(I assume he had faster skis than me, see above). I got up quickly without swearing after losing about thirty places and pressed on. There was one other incident. At the second to last feed station I was behind a skier going up the final rise before the feed and the old guy just went face down in the snow and I could not help skiing right up on top of him. I backed off and he popped right up and said he was sorry? (Note: Old guy might be a misnomer as I will turn 60 in two months>>>perception is everything!) Had minor cramping in triceps and thighs at 39k hill, but what else is new. The rest of the race was a matter of maintaining pace. 3:23 final, not my fastest time and not my slowest. Picked up 180 places from the last time I did it in 2011 and it should keep me in wave 2.

As I was packing my poles in the tube for the flight home I noticed a serious disruption about a foot up from the bottom of my left pole. The paint was flaked off and there were actual cracks in the shaft. It had to have come from the snowmobile hill crash. I am just lucky I finished with the pole intact.

Can't wait for next year.


MN Hoser
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Re: Birkie

Postby MN Hoser » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:45 am

Thanks for the writeup. Earlier, I wrote:

"As you get older, you start realizing what it takes to get to the start line healthy, ready to race, and then how rare it is to have everything come together for a good race."

I find it's really rare to get through a winter without getting sick. People go to work sick, haul sick kids to grandparents houses (yeah, that's where it started for me in Dec), and then carry on with life sick. (I went to work with a head cold this week because thee's too much work to do and screw it, everyone comes to work sick.)

Say hi to Glacier,


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Re: Birkie

Postby Montana » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:52 am

Good to hear you had another good Birkie. Good job!

Jeff and Jay,
I agree that it is indeed tough to stay healthy all winter especially when those around you bring all kinds of nasties home with them. I can offer some ways to mitigate the tendency to get sick.

Live in a small town and don't work for a living. Stay away from all the kids in town. And stay away from anyone you even in the smallest details has any indication of a cold. Following these simple steps will help keep you from getting sick and might also prevent you from joining big crowds at ski races. :?
40th consecutive Birkie in 2020!
Ralph Thornton, Ear Mountain Photography

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Re: Birkie

Postby Raubie » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:38 pm

Helmet cam of the full '13 Birkebeiner (from the 9th wave): (map overlay)

Something about seeing classic skiers racing alongside skaters. But holy cow, the traffic in the later waves!

It would be interesting to see something similar from one of this year's earlier waves to compare.

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Re: Birkie

Postby bmullin » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:59 pm

I love the helmet cam. Now I can show some people what it was like out there!

The following has to be one of my favorite stories. Jeff is just an animal and if he can do this in under 20 times on skate skis in his life I'm watching over my shoulder in a year or two to see him come whipping by me.

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Re: Birkie

Postby xchawk » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:31 pm

My race report along with a few extras.....

We left from Iowa on Wednesday after work and were able to avoid the snowstorm that hit on Thursday. Same exact thing happened last year. Funny how it hardly snows all winter and when I need to get to the Birkie, it finally snows.

The trip up was uneventful, but when we arrived at our cabin at about 11:30PM, the outdoor temp was below zero and the furnace was not working. I tried to get a hold of the property manger, but of course cell service was suspect, so no luck. We cranked up the gas fireplace, put the kids in bed with their coats on (it was 52F in the cabin) and went to bed. I was able to get a hold of the property manager the next morning via text and it turns out something had frozen up outside. They were able to fix it and we had heat the rest of the weekend. Yeah!

On Thursday we went into Hayward for the Barnebirkie. My two oldest kids (5 and 7) did the 1K for the second year. I really enjoy watching them do this. I think they have fun as well, but they are most excited about the cookies and hot chocolate afterwards. Man, do they provide a lot of cookies.

We stopped at New Moon Ski post the Barnebirkie as I wanted to ask some questions about waxing. I’m a total novice in this area. I raced on Swix CH6 last year and figured I should try something different. I talked to the Swix wax rep in the store and he recommended at a minimum to move up to the LF versions. According to him, this should result in 25% improvement, so I purchased a block of LF6.

Next, the wife and I went for a ski at the OO trailhead. It was nice to get on some good snow once again as I had been relegated to roller skiing the last two weeks. I was for some reason surprised how tough the hills were. This was my second year of doing the Birkie, so I knew what to expect this time around, but once again the hills surprised me.

Friday, the snow started to fly and when it began piling up, I started to get a little concerned about getting out of our cabin as there was a slight incline and Buick Enclaves w/o AWD are horrible in snow. We planned on going to the expo late morning, so I got in the car to see if I could get to the top of the incline to park it there until we left. No luck. I spun around for about a half hour. We were stranded. I texted the property manager to see when the plow would come through and he said later that day. Fine, I would wax my skis while we waited. Two layers of CH7 followed by two layers of LF6 per the Swix technician’s recommendations. It got to be about 4PM and still no snow removal. I texted the property manager again and he couldn’t get in contact with the snow removal company so he offered to come and tow us out. Thank goodness he did, because the plow didn’t show up until about 8:30 that night and I would have been pushing it to get my race packet picked up.

Race morning went smoothly. I enjoy listening to the Birkie race coverage on the radio on the way up to Cable. They were naming off the number of skiers from all the states and countries. I think they rattled off every state except Iowa. Once again no love for the Hawkeye state. I was a little rushed in getting to the starting line as our bus driver had to make sure there were two people in every seat before we left, so it took way too long to board our bus. I was in wave 6 this year. As you are all well aware, conditions were quite soft, especially for us late wavers. Last year I left a little too much in the tank, so I was a little more aggressive on the up-hills this year. My skis felt pretty good through most of the race. I did notice I was passing a few skiers on the down hills, but was also getting passed by others. The skis definitely felt slow the last 10 or 15 k, but it could have been me just getting tired as well. The course was beautiful with the freshly fallen snow sitting on the trees and I made a point to look up and take it all in every once in a while. I did almost take a nasty fall on Bobblehead hill, but caught my balance just before biting it to the chagrin of the snowmobilers. My family made it out to see me at OO, which provided a great boost for a few ks. My pace definitely slowed over the last half of the race. Crossing the lake was much harder for me this year than last year. I didn’t have near as much left in me. I ended up finishing in 4:02, about 18 minutes faster than last year. I also moved up 610 places from where I finished last year. I’m not sure what to chalk it up to…conditioning, experience or waxing. All I know is I didn't shake my Birkie fever and can’t wait to do it again next year!

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Re: Birkie

Postby SpecialGreen » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:48 am

Thanks, Raubie! It was cool to see the skate trail, and "see how the other half lives!"
How did those race pole-tips work? I removed a pair like that from my poles before the Birkie, because they were pushing too deep into the snow at COLL and Mora.

For me, this was a fun year, because it was my first Birkie (did first Kortie last year, mostly in prep), and especially because my family came to cheer.

I'm a recreational skier, though I really enjoy improving my time in races. The Powers That Be had optimistically seeded me based on my Kortie pace. Unfortunately, I knew that my pace was 10% off this year due to "Life Happening," and I knew that my 50k pace was 10% below my 25k pace. I got into place at the back of the pen, with a brilliant friend who was recovering from foot surgery. The "back of the wave" suited both of us just fine. After the gun, there was an orderly rush, with no skiers left on the ground, like those I saw in videos of the skate wave.

Things were slow right off-the-bat. Almost everybody was striding more than usual, and I was kicking more than others. There wasn't much double-poling going on, with the exception of my friend, who was levering himself up hills to avoid hurting his foot. I discovered that I had botched the wax: on the bright side, I had monster kick. On the down-side, it felt like I was running a snowshoe race.

We hit the woods as a crowded bunch, and a couple of skiers decided that they needed to be somewhere up the trail NOW!!, stepping on skis, thwacking poles, etc.. I shouted "Powerlines!" (meaning: "Save it for..."), but that was probably wasted. At 7km, I checked my watch: we were taking more than 6 minutes per km! I could understand why those young skiers had panicked in the woods. I had a flashback to those dreams where you are running but not getting anywhere, and realized that this was not going to be a great finish time for me. I sped up a bit, but just could not get up to kick-double-pole cruising speed for more than a few seconds here and there. At 9km, my friend waved at me: he had decided to peel-off at the Kortie turn-off, realizing that double-poling 54k with a swollen post-surgery foot is a bad idea (I did mention that he's "brilliant"? :roll: ).

One goal I had for the Birkie was dealing with nourishment. I'd never eaten in a race before, afraid that I'd get cramps, or be left looking for a rest area. I'd done one 50k race, without eating, and had actually hallucinated a little bit. This time, I decided to "go bananas". In the Kortie, I viewed the rest stops as convenient places to pass 50 people at a time, but for the Birkie, I stopped at every feed and had a banana chunk. In fact, I was still getting hungrier as the race progressed, and had two chunks at stops 5, 6 & 7, and three at stop 8 (where it was probably too late to help). I did notice that I experienced a minute of low energy, 1-2km after each feed station, but the feeling would pass. And I never did have any discomfort, so I call that part "a success."

I found myself dropping further back on the field. The tracks were pretty washed-out, which isn't so bad if you're double-poling, but was annoying because I was striding so much. I had a frustrating descent where I, double-poling, was passed by a skier who was just coasting. I worked on passing on the upper 2/3rds of the climbs, where I had the advantage. On the bright side, the climbs weren't too bad. Even B!@# Hill looks worse than it is, because you get to coast up the first third (well, OK, everybody else got to glide up the first third).

Late in the race, the snow in the tracks started to glaze a bit, and I started to get some glide. I rolled across the lake; the windblown snow seemed slower again. I was tempted to stop for the Jaeger shot, because I was so far back by then... hey, it can't hurt, right? But I rolled-on to the finish, and got cheered by my wife and kids, which was easily worth the whole weekend :drunken: .

Fortunately, my slow pace had left me without soreness, so I was feeling good enough to go eat massive pie at the Norske Nook. The family also had a great time, and wants to come back. And I have an easy target to beat for next year.

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Re: Birkie

Postby MN Hoser » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:25 am

Keep an eye on:

Ari should be getting info from the Birkie soon and updating his page. It's pretty intersting stuff. I threw the story (from earlier in this thread) at Ari and he posted it. No reason to re-read that, but there are other stories on there.


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