tirsdag 11. mars 2014

Four and Fifty ...The Birkebeinerennet , 'Birke'n 2014'

This weekend sees the annual homage to pain and passion on the 54km between Rena and lLillehammer which is called the Birkerbeinerennet.  For keen skiers, profs and obsessive amaterus, the test is born from a Legend and lives on myths.

You can read the legend of 1206, for yourself, but the biggest myth is that the race is dominated by professionals and the super competitive oil executives and finance 'wolves' .

The only remarkable thing about the later managment participation  is that they have managed to subdue the otherwise untamable shrew into a housewife and overcome the eventual boredom of Nordmarka hour by hour. Many are out eight hours during the week , without sunlight, and then more at the weekend at their cabin on the Norsk Hamptons, so the wives become Birke/widows and the kids must wonder what daddy looks like if he is not either stuffed into a red condom tight ski suit or with both hands at the wheel of his BMW.

The prevalence of their participation in the event is all blown up by the finance media, who have after all only a small stock exchange to cover, minor scandals and a majority of workers in Statoil, public services or protected food industries. 

For the majority of competitors, or participants really, they will average about 4 hours depending on the conditions which have a lot to play and are often variable due to the ascent of 1000m underway over the 54km. That by my reckoning corresponds to 5 hours training a week, but within that there must very good technique and some longer february weekend runs or events.

 For the elite, well this is a bit of a surprise because those 8 hours a week training to come under 3 hours need not be all year round but rather built on a base of fitness off ski and off rollers too. As with okay times for M45 , men full mid life crisis just under 4 hours, then specific stamina training, some speed sessions each week and technique coaching coupled to good 'feste' are the factors which  rule to keep you within the mark. Here is one elite-peleton guy's account who went from almost five hours downwards as he entered the so called mid life crisis, clearly he was just peaking!

So the event is not unassailable as would be the myth , and fully possible for the average club competitor or even the averagely fit skier who decides to increase their training and have first qualification and then participation to a sensible 4.30 hrs mark.

Younger seeded adults have a tougher time because their marks are more restricted. But also later seeded/starting competitors can have harder 'spor' with partly destroyed edges, and of course rising temperatures as the day goes on so conditions play a part for everyone in their variance. This year may like 2007 be blown off with sleet and wind chill forecast. partly destroyed edges, and of course rising temperatures as the day goes on so conditions play a part for everyone in their variance. This year may like 2007 be blown off with sleet and wind chill forecast.

You have to gain seeding to enter Birke'n by competiting in other events or from self same 54km west from Rena the year before. From this result profile  you are then allocated a peleton by age and performance and a time to make it in / to round the mark they say, very nautical for this most inland and land lubber of events. i reckon I could seed at 4 hours mark if I could train from late November,  this would have been possible in earlier years due to snow conditions, if I had taken some more instruction and in technique. Finally I catch up with technique in a weird year with no underlying groundfrost and a meter of snow or more lying still on most forrest roads. Soft, hard, sharp...best for waxless in fact.

I would without doubt do a 50 km ski run at this time of uyear on Atomic Skintecs or Fischer RCS waxless because for longer run'feste' is best- grip is best , as long as you have some glide, avoiding back slides in the kick which can drain or injure you and saving time in not rewaxing.

In any case, I could aspire to Birken given a good season, but it is a palava to go up to Rena from here. Yesterday I did a meagre 14 km with 200 m climbing but i would have done it at 9km/ht if my mobile had not gone off and i had not stopped to take photties on the wonderful sunny day. An Icey way back round-the-mountain was only slow on the worst uphills, and back in the car after one minutes breathing I felt like I had just warmed up!
This reminds me of cycling where eventually the first hour was a warm up for stiff, highly trained muscles and if I was late for a race I paid for not warming up  by being OTB!

 I may move up that way to the great valley Lillehammer lies in a few years time though and have the route on my doorstep more or less.  For now, there are several runs within eaasier access and in any case I would like to set up my own run with the club here at about 40/45km with both styles catered for not just classic. This makes it easier to train for with a mild snowless autumn and november, because classic roller skiing is a fussy affaire. Easier to skate on roads, and it is so popular now here partly due to worn out tram lines with ice forming, while the middle lane was soft. 

This year I have had the time between contracts and financial capability to live off my wife and my own savings. New car, new sofa, biggerr house on hold...thank god , I am really into
downsizing and degrowth any hows. So my training has all been in daylight or twilight with a base of exercise in the mild autumn on woodland elg-hoofing. Loping with poles at 9am after the day is wound up like a family faced clock of preschool, school, washing machine on, dishwasher emptied. Most of it has been foggy and damp, around freexing point and it has threatened to be washed away by rain every week for the last four, but miraculously has survived to a decent depth on the harder under surfacesI rather miss not stretching a head torch over my brow. 

Headtorches a plenty to find in Oslos Nordmarka, the woods and moors which are actually the second best thing about Oslo after the Fjord with its Islands. The town itself is a bit of a dump by in large, now festooned with messy achitecture on its seafront. For the finance and oil executive crowd there will be eight to twelve hours a week training on skis. That will not include family tours or other events which are often taken as a test of form. This self announced wolf pack are actually a tiny part of the  whole event.

  The majority are club racers and old timers, many a year-on-year seasoned sixty year old as much as there are the midlife crisis type. Not forgetting the 2 on four week off semi pro oil workers, who can train up like hell if their shift pattern matches the event.  There you have the three main segments who maybe make up 90% of competition with pros and the executive/finance crowd being a fraction of the remaining.

The down side of the small economy outside dollar-barrell indexing is that financiers get a lot of boring personal coverage in the media. Partly because they are as arrogant as their more numerous London or NYSE comrades who by in large like anonymity. Here when they/ disinvest or close sites the effect is much more amplified for the local society because if they work outside the dollar-barrell cushion which creates living costs amongte the highest in the world, they fall pretty hard. Also the state and councils even are allowed to co invest in enterprises here, all above board, hands off the operational management and 
this means that local societies get an interested investor as in the current rage about fishing port and processing plants in the north where there are few other on shore jobsand fishing in family sized boats runs in the blood. Most other countries set up an innovation board to do this which is of course highly beaurcatised and wastes money as in Scottish Enterprise. Norway has that too, but I have yet to see any real fruits personally. 

Anyway, out they will with cheering wives at the finish, how clever daddy is if only you knew what he looked like outside the red swix condom-lycra suit. Remember you are a small percentage and only the business dailies care about you, we dont give a damn.

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