An estimated 11,000 runners were expected to take part in the annual running edition of the Birkebeiner race in the mountains above Lillehammer on Saturday. That’s around 3,000 more runners than last year.
While hundreds of avid sailors were taking part in the annual Færder regatta on the Oslo Fjord this weekend, around 8,000 runners registered to take part in the full length of the Birkebeiner race, which also has a cycling edition in addition to the traditional ski race. The so-called Birkebeinerløpet (Birkebeiner foot race) is 21 kilometers long with a course going over both gravel roads and mountain trails. It starts at the Birkebeiner Ski Stadium in Lillehammer and ends at Håkons Hall in the same town that hosted the winter Olympics in 1994.
There’s also a Halvbirken, with a 12-kilometer course, a 4.5-kilometer for youth and a 60-kilometer course called Ultrabirken, plus a short race for children. Around 3,000 runners of all ages were registered for them.
Last year, 6,100 ran the main race and another 2,300 took part in the additional events. Organizers were expecting clear skies, sunshine and relatively warm temperatures, with not much snow left at the higher elevations on the course.