Birkebeiner course. Photo: Birken AS

The 54km Birkebeiner starts in Rena and finishes at the Birkebeiner stadium in Lillehammer. Photo: Geir Olsen

The Norwegian Birkebeiner introduces a skate event for the Friday race, starting with 2017.

It might just be the biggest Birkebeiner news since 1932. As a part of the anniversary celebration of the famous ski race between Rena and Lillehammer, which was first organized in 1932, Birken is launching a brand new event as a part of he Birkebeiner Ski Festival 2017: A free technique event on Friday, March 17, 2017.

This marks the very first time that skating will be allowed in the Norwegian Birkebeiner ski race, and the event is limited to 1,000 skiers. Online event registration opens on Tuesday, November 1.

The course is the same at the regular event, with the skate lane running parallel to the classic track. However, skaters are not allowed to ski on the classic tracks, and classic skiers may not ski in the skate lane.

The event is 54 kilometers, starting at Rena and finishing at the Birkebeiner stadium in Lillehammer.

From Rena at 280 meters above sea level, the course climbs steadily for more than 13 kilometer to the summit of Dølfjellet at 820 meters. From there, the course drops down to Kvarstad before climbing up to Midtfjellet, the high point of the course at 910 meters and 34 kilometers from the start. Having crested Midtfjellet, the course continues down and flat to Sjusjøen, then drops down through downhill and gently rolling terrain to the finish at Birkeneiner stadium at 490 meters.

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