Øystein Pettersen enjoyed his first attempt at the Birkebeiner half marathon trail run. Photo: Inge Scheve

Øystein Pettersen enjoyed his first attempt at the Birkebeiner half marathon trail run. Photo: Inge Scheve

Øystein Pettersen (NOR) debuted in the Birkebeiner running race earning himself the overall lead in the Birkebeiner Triple.

The Birkie Triple consists of all three Birkebeiner events: the 54km ski race in March, the half marathon trail run in June and the 84km mountain bike race in August.

Finishing the trail run on June 10 in 1 hour and 16 minutes Madshus marathon racer Pettersen is now ahead by eight minutes.

“I am stoked,” Pettersen said after his first attempt at the Birkebeiner half marathon.

“It was marvelous! I suffered some, I enjoyed myself some, I was fed lefse on the course and people were cheering along the way. I was a great experience,” he said at the finish line while the rain was pouring down.

“This is exactly what the Birkie should be about, and what the Birkie is all about. I hope the weather is even lousier next year, then it will be even better,” he continued.

A rookie at the Birkie half marathon, Pettersen didn’t know what to expect from the course and the competitors, and was excited to clock in at 1:16.

“I had hoped to make 1:20, so 1:16 is amazing for me, he said.

Combined with his performance at the Birkebeiner ski race in March, Pettersen has a cumulative time of 3:42:51 and leads the overall Birkie Triple with an eight-minute margin with only the Birkie Mountain Bike race to go for this season.