A Birkie tale of error and repentance
I’d like to thank everyone who gave reports about this year’s Birkie. As someone who has participated in the event a half-dozen times, I can relate. This amazing occurrence from Saturday’s Birkebeiner was submitted by Jon Amundson:
There is nothing like the feeling standing all too scantily clad for the cold on the start line of a major race. Then the feeling of clipping into your bindings and adjusting the straps of your poles in those last minutes before the gun goes, unless you find yourself standing without skis and poles because someone has mistakenly steeped into yours! This is the tale of a comedic error, unless they are your skis, and the repentance which followed.
At this years Birkie a well accomplished skier and worthy masters age category competitor found himself ski-less in the last few minutes before the race. He had placed the skis in the tracks, as they were this year, and gone to deposit his bag in the truck for transport to the finish line. Upon his return, they were gone! Announcements by the start officials to check your skis and make sure you had the correct pair were met by silence and the impatience of scantily clad readers standing in the cold! SO, off went the gun and the throng pushed forward through ungroomed snow to the far side of the lake; our unfortunate left standing, race equipped with a 5 kilo pack on his back and no skis.
But all was not lost! As another fierce ‘masters’ competitor, well-known for winning his (advancing) age category over many years in the pack division, reached the far side of the lake he noticed that “these were not my poles?” his being red and ‘these’ being blue…so without a moments hesitation, realizing the error of his ways, he turned and fought his way back through the crowd to the start line, some 1500 meters away and found our unfortunate. The exchange was made, exchange in the sense that the other skis were laying side of the track at this point, and each resumed their race: though in a forced grim silence, compounded by the necessity to fight their ways back through the crowd of other skiers for the 44 kilometres of course this year. One did in fact go on to win their divisional category and the other just off the podium in 4th.
The bottom line? As Tolstoy once said, “ Old age is the most unexpected event in a man’s life!”