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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Aukland wins second ‘Birken’

Norwegian marathon skier Anders Aukland won the elite class of Saturday’s annual Birkebeiner ski race, popularly known as “Birken.” It was the second time Aukland won the traditional trek over the mountains of eastern Norway.

The Birkebeiner race attracts thousands of skiers every year. PHOTO:


Aukland, who also won the race from Rena to Lillehammer in 2006, skied the 54-kilometer course in two hours, 27 minutes and 19 seconds. He claimed it was “incredibly fun,” that he had “good skis” and that the tracks were in good shape despite mild temperatures.

Stanislav Reza of the Czech Republic placed second and Simen Østensen of Norway third. Former Norwegian Olympic gold medalist Thomas Alsgaard was fourth, with a time of two hours, 30 minutes and nine seconds.

The women’s elite class was won Jenny Hansson of Sweden, with a time of two hours 57 minutes and 33 seconds, followed by Karianne Bjellånes of Norway.

The other nearly 16,000 skiers taking part in the long-distance race included mostly middle-aged men, among them investor and former finance executive Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, age 53, who completed his eighth Birkebeiner race. He told news bureau NTB that he also won his eighth merke, the distinction proving a good time. Gjelsten used three hours, 26 minutes 11 seconds to complete the race. Others used most of the day.

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