BIRKEBEINERRENNET COMES WITH A HEROIC TALE AND AN ADVENTUROUS COURSE
Like Vasaloppet, Birkebeinerrennet has a long history and its origin stems from a heroic tale of courage and adventure. The story goes back to the harsh times of the 13th century when two fearless soldiers, birkebeiners, rescued a young prince and skied over the mountain fighting against the wild nature around them. This young prince, Haakon, later became the king, and to honor him and his rescuers all participants carry a 3.5 kg backpack symbolizing the weight of the precious cargo that the birkebeiners had on their backs on their adventurous journey.
Birkebeinerrennet has one of the most challenging courses in the Ski Classics Pro Tour. There is a long climb to the mountaintop at Raudfjellet with only one relatively short downhill section at 13 km. The second challenging uphill starts at 28 km, and after 40 km of “mountain skiing” skiers reach Sjusjøen and start their descent to Lillehammer. During the last 14 km, there is a 400-meter drop in elevation, and the finish is at the Olympic stadium.