Birkie closes with all-time record 9,000 skiersRegistration for the Prince Haakon 12K race is still open, with about half of the 400 spots spoken for so far.
Three Months Before the Event — Earliest in the History of the Race
Three months ahead of race day, almost to the day, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation capped at its pre-determined cut-off of 9,000 skiers for its two longest races: the Birkebeiner, 50/54 kilometers, and the Kortelopet, 23 kilometers. The last registrations were accepted on Monday, November 21.
Registration for the Prince Haakon 12K race is still open, with about half of the 400 spots spoken for so far.
This is the third year in a row that the legendary event, celebrating its 39th year in 2012, has reached its cap. But, this is the earliest in the history of the race that it has closed registration for its two main events this early. Last year registration remained open through mid-December.
“We’re very excited that we have hit an all-time record number of registered participants for the event,” said Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. “This reflects on the quality of the race and the growing enthusiasm for cross country skiing.”
While skiers could register as early as April for the Feb. 25, 2012 event, the rush came at the end of the summer and over the last several weeks. “Part of the reason,” said Zuelsdorff, “is that we’ve had several good winters and cold weather, so people are really thinking about skiing. And, just having a cap in a sense increases the value of the race for people. It causes people to register earlier to make sure they get in.”
There is a logistical reason for setting a cap each year as the event has continued to grow. “Having a cap allows us to know exactly where we are as far as numbers,” Zuelsdorff said. “This allows us to better prepare and makes sure that support on the trail and every other part of the event is a great experience for the skiers.”
The Birkie does keep the ski community informed as races start to fill. Through the Birkie.com website, Facebook, emails, and other ski website bulletins, staff post the numbers and encourage people to register as soon as possible.
The interesting thing about so many people taking on these challenging ski marathons is that there continue to be so many newcomers each year. This year, 15 percent of Birkie and Korte registrations were from people skiing these events for the first time, and equally divided between the two events at that. Many of these people are not even in areas of the country with guaranteed snow. (Some live and train in places like South Carolina and Florida.) The next largest group of skiers, at 10 percent, are the “Birchleggers,” those who have skied the full Birkebeiner 20 times or more.
“It says a lot about the spirit of the event that people give it a try, get hooked, and keep coming back for more,” said Zuelsdorff. “That’s what’s referred to as ‘Birkie Fever.’”
For those who didn’t get into the Birkie or Korte races, there are still other ways to enjoy race week with family and friends. There areeight other ski events from February 23 to 25, including the 12K event, the “Giant Ski” team races down Main Street, the Junior Birkie, the Barkie Birkie skijor, 5/10 family fun ski, and more. And, on January 21, there is the BirkieTour, a fully supported event that includes the same 50K and 25K distances, but is skied as an untimed, non-competitive event.
For more information about all Birkie events Feb. 23-25 and the BirkieTour on Jan. 21 visit the Birkie Events page of the Birkie website.
For additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-634-5025.