Crown Prince Haakon will strap on his skis and embark on the yearly ski race ‘Birken’.

This is the first time the Crown Prince is a participant in this race. He has previously participated in the ‘Royal Birken’, a bicycle race, when he visited Rena in 2011. The 54 kilometers long ski race starts in Rena and finishes in Lillehammer.

Another well known Norwegian who wil participate this year is Abid Raja, who is a politician from the Socialist Left Party, and representative for the Outdoor Recreational Year 2015. The popular skiersTherese Johaug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby will also race. Birkebeineren will take place Saturday March 21st, which is the 77th race. Last year the race was canselled du to bad weather, but a lot of people chose to finish unofficially anyways. Hopefully the weather will be bright and sunny this year.

History of Birkebeinerrennet

Following the death of the Norwegian king Haakon Sverresson, the two rivaling factions, the Baglers and the Birkebeiners, fought to gain control of the country.

To keep Haakon Sverressons son – Haakon Haakonsson, from being killed by the Baglers, and by that securing the throne, a small group of Birkebeiners brought prince Haakon and his mother, Inga, north. Just after New Year’s Eve 1206 the two best skiers – Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka, carrying the child, chose the route across the mountains separating Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen. It was a strenuous journey, but the young prince was brought to safety in Trondheim.

The prince grew to become the king who united Norway, after 1000 years of civil war, and led the country into its golden age during the Middle Ages.

January 10th 1932, 6 men – Fredrik Grundtvig, Agnar Renolen, Peder Olsen, Lars Høgvold, Halvor Kampen and Olaf Larsen, met on the mountain Raufjellet, and decided to arrange the first Birkebeinerrennet in memory of the trip in 1206.