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Birkebeinerrennet is Norway’s most traditional cross-country ski race.

Founded in 1932, it runs every year from Rena to Lillehammer in the Innlandet county, 2 hours’ drive from Oslo (112 miles).

The Birkebeinerrennet is 54 km long and is run in classic style.

The departure is in Tingstadjordet in Rena. Climb up to Raudfjellet, almost flat to Sjusjøen, and relatively steep descents to the finish at the Birkebeineren ski stadium in Lillehammer. Overall the trail offers approx. 0,6 miles of gentle climbs.

The age limit for participation in the main race is 16 years.


The Birkebeinerrennet cross-country ski race is in memory of the Birkebeiner Viking ski warriors who carried the little heir to the throne Håkon Håkonsson in 1206.

Participants will have to carry with them from start to finish a bag weighing 3.5 kg to symbolize the weight of the little prince who had not yet turned 2 years old at the time.

The Viking prince Håkon Håkonsson was born in Østfold in the spring of 1204.

His father, Haakon Sverressøn, died on New Year’s Day 1204, and the king’s son was immediately “sought after” by the Baglers, who wanted to get rid of the heir to the throne.

Therefore, Håkon had to be carried to safety and some Birkebeiner fled with the child to take him to his friend King Inge in Nidaros.

They arrived in Hamar on Christmas Eve 1205 and went to a small farm near Lillehammer, where they remained hidden during Christmas.

Continuing on, they did not dare take the usual route through Gudbrandsdalen, but went over the mountain to Østerdalen. On this trip they suffered a lot from bad weather, frost and snow.

Master skiers, warriors and Vikings, the Birkebeiner succeeded in their feat and Håkon Håkonsson became king and put an end to the civil wars.

Under him Norway experienced its heyday in the Middle Ages.