Rena – Skøytebeiner

18 Apr

The high point (738m)

Took the train to Rena, the start place of the annual Birkebeiner race. This year there were 15 000 participants. I heard from a colleague that it was as fun as a traffic jam.Today though it was rather lonely.

My train arrived at 10.56 and the return trip left at 18.59. I had a lot of time to kill skiing. But I was afraid when I arrived that there would be no snow. I had researched things out well on the internet looking at a snow coverage map before leaving but when I arrived at the Rena rail station winter was looking pretty scant. Since I’d got my self stuck all the way out there, I nevertheless got off the train and went looking for snow.

Up out of the river valley and on to the plateau, things started to look slightly snowier. Following a poorly detailed map I had downloaded, I reasoned that I would cross the ski trail if I turned off the main road onto a dirt road to the right. Two hundred meters further and bingo I found my ski trail cutting across some wheat fields. The nature of the crop was easy to identify because there was a lot of straw poking up through the thin snow.

A little ways later I came to the Birkebeiner trail start. It looked like a 6 lane cross country superhighway.

Here’s what it looked like on the race day last March:

When I got up there the tracksets had been dulled down but that was good because I was skating over them. There were still some bare patches but with such breadth, they were easy to avoid. After a long uphill on that wide path that surely helped sort out the strong and the weak during the race, I arrived on a high plateau near Skramstadseter sitting at the 640 meter mark–400 meters up from the train station. That is the toughest climb in the whole race:

Once up on the plateau, I cruised around all day. The Birkebeiner route got icy and nasty at one point so I came back down to Skramstadseter and took off on more recently prepped trails. One of those took me back to the Birkie trail at the high point of my trip, Korsgolvet, 1,2 km from Dambua in the above graphic. Finally, when the time came, I cruised back down and got my feet wet in the wheat field which had turned into nasty slush puddle. On the up side I picked up and pocketed some sort of Birkebeiner participant patch I found lying there. I didn’t go all the way to Lillehammer but still nearly went the distance–well over 40km.


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