Despite living in Norway I had never gone Birkebeiner, until today. If you don't know what Birkebeiner is, I can tell you that is a very popular ski race here in Norway, and of course wikipedia will tell you more if you click here. Basically it recreates an old story, where two skiers had to cross mountains with the young king on their arms to save him from his enemies.
The weather was perfect and the slopes were perfect too. Overall it was a perfect day.
Now to the race description. Birkebeiner is very tough. It has a lot of uphill, and a lot of downhill too. The first 14 kilometers are up, up and up. With two stops, one at 5 kilometers and the other one at 9.5 kilometers. After that one continues up for 4.5 kilometers and down you go. A little flat and up again. By the time you reach the second drink station, you are already tired since you have been going up for 20 kilometers (with 2 kilometers down hill that do not help with your sore muscles).
From there on is... well... up. And up, and up, and up. Again, there comes a new down hill for a couple of kilometers and up again. One reaches the third drink station after 27 kilometers, and guess what... up again... By the time you come to the final drink station, you have gone up and down for a long while and your muscles are really sore. From that point on, is some flat terrain and then some down hills for about 5 kilometers. The down hills are not difficult, they are really narrow and there is a lot of people, which leads to problems. Since you are already tired, it is difficult to focus and to keep your balance, and even more difficult to avoid people who falls. After coming all the way down, you still have about 5 kilometers to the ski stadium and that is pretty flat with a small hill in the last three kilometers.
I'm satisfied with my performance this year since it was my first time. I'll train more for next year and I'll see how fast I can go.