2018 American Birkebeiner (Hayward, Wisconsin): 50 k freestyle
The 44th annual American Birkebeiner took place Saturday on the world-famous course from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin, with Minneapolis’s own Caitlin Gregg (CXC Team/Loppet Nordic Racing/Team Gregg) and Norway’s Anders Gløersen racing to victories in the elite women’s and men’s races, respectively.
Gregg finished in 2:23:30.3 hours, just 2.5 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Maria Graefnings in second and 3.8 seconds over Chelsea Holmes, of Alaska Pacific University (APU), in third.
The Birkie win was Gregg’s fifth after taking the title in the 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2016 editions of the race as well. She won the last American Birkie contested in 2016, with a broken toe, in 2:22:44. (The race was canceled last year.)
Gløersen was the first across the line, after passing the entire elite women’s field, with a winning time of 2:02.29.6. France’s Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux finished 1.9 seconds back in second, and Kyle Bratrud (CXC Team) was the first American in third overall (+3.4).
The defending Birkie champion from 2016 (who won it in 2:05:35), David Norris (APU) placed fifth (+5.1).
In the 55 k Birkie Classic, Minnesota native Ben Saxton, of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team, edged Cole Morgan, of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), by 1.5 seconds at the finish for the win in 2:47:35.9. Mathias Rolid, of Marquette, Michigan, followed in third (+6.1).
Wisconsin native Felicia Gesior (CXC Team) won the women’s race by more than 10 minutes in 3:08:07.3. Brandy Stewart, of Bozeman, Montana, placed second (+10:54.8) and Josie Nelson, of Medicine Lake, Minnesota, reached the podium in third (+11:20.9).
(Check back for more details about the elite race and photos)