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The Birkie, as the American Birkebeiner is popularly known, is the largest ski-marathon in North America, and part of an international federation to promote cross-country skiing, the Worldloppet. Comprised of the best ski racing around the world, each of the 20 countries on the Worldloppet circuit is only allowed one race location.
Located in the Hayward-Cable area, the American Birkebeiner trail covers more than 100 kilometers. The Birkie race course is 50K for classic Nordic skiing and 55K for skate or freestyle.
Pastor of St. Joseph’s parish, Fr. Gerard Willger, receives a text message when the elite skiers are on Lake Hayward, making their way toward the International Bridge and Main Street finish line. Fr. Willger then starts ringing the church’s bells – along with two other churches – to announce the lead pack is approaching the finish.