Birkie Fever. It’s all around us. The excitement, anticipation and tension fill the air. But not in this house. Last year was the first time we skipped the event since our initial Birkie in 2009. (Okay, I skied the Korteloppet that year, graduating to the full Birkie the following year.) But that was different, as we were out in Colorado skiing. A reasonable trade-off. This year we’re home. And living in Duluth and active in the Duluth XC Ski Club, it feels like everyone but us is heading for Hayward.
Uncertain of our winter plans this year, we didn’t sign up for the Birkie. We thought we might try something different – a new race, or perhaps more travel. As the winter progressed without snow, it seemed like a prudent decision, and even the races we did enter lost their appeal. As the Mora Vassaloppet approached, we found it hard to justify driving two hours each way to ski a few kilometers around and around on lake ice. We skipped that favorite race. The appeal of winter and skiing was hard to sustain.
On the positive side, I haven’t had to worry about getting in loads of K’s on the trails, building up to the hilly 51k race. We haven’t had to drive miles and miles chasing snow. I could bury the anguish over lack of snow by running the lakewalk. So it certainly has reduced the stress in that department.
But now with the Birkie a day away, I can’t help but wish I too were waxing my skis to perfection and setting out to ski with the thousands of other participants. I miss the challenge. I miss being a part of it all.
Registration for the 2016 Birkie is bound to be open soon. There’s a high likelihood I’ll trade my regrets for next year’s Birkie Fever.