First race: 20 March 1932, 60 km, 155 participants
Highest number of participants in main race: 14609 finishers in 2011
Worldloppet membership: founding member
The idea of the race was launched in an Oslo newspaper in the autumn of 1930 by Haakon Lie, a Lillehammer author. The main founders of the race were Lars Høgvold and Halvor Kampen from Lillehammer and Agnar Renolen and Peder Olsen from Rena. The first race took place on March 20th 1932, starting from Rena crossing mountains and valleys to finish in Lillehammer.
The underlying idea of the race was to commemorate an historical event from civil war-ridden Norway in January 1206. Two Birkebeiner skiers carried the 18 months old prince Haakon over the mountains and brought him to safety. Skiing in deep snow the staunch warriors wore leggings of birch bark, hence the name Birkebeiner (birch legs). In Norwegian history Haakon Haakonsson is known as a great king. He put an end to the civil war and during his long reign Norway had a heyday in the Middle Ages. The daring rescue of the prince made history and history made a ski race.
About two thirds of the race is over barren mountains. That is why the skiers have to carry a pack containing the necessaries for severe mountain weather (windbreaker, spare gloves, food, drink, wax etc.) Originally the required weight of the pack was 5,5 kilos, which since 1993 has been reduced to a minimum of 3,5 kilos. The original length of the course has also been reduced to 54 km. The course can only be reached by road at three points. Safety measures are therefore of the highest priority. In regard to total climbs Birkebeinerrennet is the most demanding of the Worldloppet races.
Registration formPrevious results »Tips for travelling » (if you don't want to travel alone... have look at the IAWLS page)