2020 American Birkebeiner experience and a tentative plan for its 2021 edition, I chose to stick with the 25 km skiing (race effort) + 10 km running (easy/recovery jog) combination irrespective of prevailing weather conditions.
the 100 mile version in the Golden State, the Mid-Western States Endurance Run). It certainly has taken on the flavor of a family reunion of my trail running friends. Even with a good number of familiar faces missing in action this year, the weekend offered a lot of what I’ve come to learn: trail running etiquette and friends that are competitive while being the kind, cooperative, caring and the very embodiment of the said etiquette. It’s a retreat away from the grips of electronic communication-overloaded civilization and nudging us to have humane conversations, and a lovely little platform to learn from the immovable mountains and never-stop-moving runners alike. The weekend also almost always offers something new, and with lessons about my own self and new friendships, this year wasn’t any different.
Birkie two weekends ago, things changed and changed in a hurry. The last of the officially timed ski event for 2018-19 winter season, being held in our very own backyard in the good company many of my wonderful friends, sufficient knowledge of the Swedetown Trail System and its terrain gathered over the past 3-4 seasons with help from many said friends – to an extent that I feel at home on every loop and not just when I see the final stretch to the finish line, an opportunity rub shoulders with the elites, and a peroration for Pat Szubielak as he embarks on retirement a second time … drove the said change.
2013, 2014 and 2015 — this festival of trails has gone on to teach quite a bit about myself, our trail systems in Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor (I am no mountain biker and so, I don’t ride them at all) and the trail running etiquette, and brought me closer to a fairly large number of friends — from around and outside the region — that are competitive while being the kind, cooperative, caring and the very embodiment of the said etiquette.
All of my familiarity with the Swedetown Tails, at least until the beginning of this Summer, had to do with cross country skiing as part of the The Great Bear Chase festivities. And by skiing, I mean my desperate attempts to stay upright and minimize the number of falls/wipeouts. With 25+ falls/wipeouts in 2014 (2:13:26 for 10k) and 7-8 more in 2015 (1:22:18 for 10k), it’s safe to say I have been on my behind and back more on these trails than I have standing up on my feet.
Run The Keweenaw, A Festival of Trails marks the first multi-part running event — trail or otherwise — in its entirety that I have had the opportunity to progressively and continuously build an additional stage each year. The last two editions of this event, 2013 and 2014, had gone on to teach me quite a bit about myself, bringing in me touch with a plethora of wonderful people from around and outside the region, and making the uphill portions of Hancock Canal Run course the week after seem flat or even downhill.