Birkie 2011: Cold but Fast! ~17mph ave.
This year's Birkie started at -9F. Ouch!
I read that it was the fastest ever, but it was about two hours flat, and the record is about 1:56, I read somewhere else. Anyway, it's all superfast. For, what, 55km of hills (I forget the exact distance). Dang, that's probably about 17mph average.
This is the Northwoods' biggest outdoor event. The pride of the upper Midwest. Mainly WI and MN but the whole region pitches in, as well as most other states and skiing nations.
So here's a video taken by SkinnySkis.com near the halfway point. It's hard to tell, because everyone is just flying, but it's an uphill section. It first shows the lead classic skiers, who started earlier, then along comes a snowmobile and the first mob of zooming skaters. (Yeah, the skaters really fly past the classic skiers in this clip. On a moderate grade, that's how it goes.)
What's really neat is that the Birkie has BOOMED in the past few years. It's up to about 8700 skiers this year. Why? I dunno entirely, but a big part of it is because they've started catering to classic skiers. They now have a new classic-only trail alongside the main trail for the first half. A few years ago they launched the classic division and got about 50 takers. Then 100 the next year. And it's grown exponentially since then, up to about 1500 this year. Almost all the growth of first-ever skiers has come from the classic side.
The official Birkie photo galleries are neat to check out.
I really liked seeing the pics of the two warriors and a princess who skied the whole race in period attire in homage to the namesake of the event -- back in early history a couple warriors and a lady rescued the baby prince by skiing him out of danger for about 55km to a neighboring land. So these skiers did the whole race on wood skis, wearing birch leggings, helmets, etc. The lady wore a wool dress and cape.
(In the results section it's nice to see so many young skiers are filling in the top ranks. How to get that to happen in Michigan skiing?)
I notice a Classic skier at the very end of the video who has bad technique (no follow-thru with arms) but who has a very nice bouncy rhythm and glide just the same: whatever works!