The Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts held their fourth annual
Bristlecone Birkebeiner on Saturday, January 21st. The Bristlecone Birkebeiner is a cross-country ski race for all ages that was originally held in Ely at Ward Mountain Recreation Area from 1983 to the early 1990’s. This race hasn’t been around for over 20 years but the Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts have brought back this great winter event!
This year’s event took place at the Ward Mountain Recreation Area, along the north trails. Participants had their choice of skiing a long or short course on the trail named Birkebeiner or better known as D loop. For the little ones, a short kid’s course was offered as well. Nancy Herms, President of the Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts stated “We were so pleased with the snow level this year. The amount of snow we had for the race this year made for great ski conditions along the course.” There was a total of 26 participants, 9 being kids ranging from ages 4-9 years old.
The original Birkebeiner or “Birkie” was named after the Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, which commemorates an important historical event. In 1206 a group of Birkebeiner party soldiers, who fought for Sverre Sigurdsson and his descendants in the Norwegian civil war, smuggled the illegitimate son of Norway’s King Håkon Sverresson from Lillehammer to safety in Trondheim. In the Norwegian Birkie, skiers still carry packs symbolizing the weight of an 18-month-old child. The packs also contain extra food, clothing and survival gear to protect against unexpected weather changes in the harsh sub-Arctic mountains that the skiers cross during the race.
The Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts’ mission is to encourage people to be active and lead healthy lifestyles through fitness events that raise funds for community-wide wellness while promoting tourism in White Pine County. “We hope that the word will continue to spread about us and our events. Local community support, whether it is sponsoring, participating, or volunteering has been excellent and remains a critical part in the success of our events.” Herms said.The Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts next event is the Turkey Vulture Stretch 5K on Saturday, March 18th, at County Park in downtown Ely. For more information on the Turkey Vulture Stretch or other events, visit their webpage at www.elyoutdoorenthusiasts.org.