Hoping for good weather as the Birkebeinerrittet begins

Muddy conditions in the 2009 race.

Muddy conditions in the 2009 race.

Birkebeinerrittet is the world’s largest cross country bicycle race with 18,000 participants. The course is 94.6 km long.

The race begins in Rena and finishes in Lillehammer. It begins today, Friday, and continues on Saturday. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute has reported that 15 mm of rain is expected on Friday.

“I’m beginning to feel that we are very unfortunate. We follow weather forecasts constantly and we are also in continuous contact with the Norwegian Geotechnical Insitute (NGI). After we had two landslides in the route last week, they have been here to look at the possibilities for more landslides. But we hope for good weather,” said Tone Lien, general manager of Birkebeinerrittet AS, in an interview with Aftenposten.

In the 2009 race, the rain created extremely muddy conditions and 20% of bikers in the race became sick with vomiting and diarrhea. This was most likely from ingesting mud with traces of feces from browsing livestock. This year, improvements have been made on the course. “In 2009 many became sick with diarrhea and a survey afterward given by Public Health showed that those who became ill had been drinking straight from water bottles without spitting out the first mouthful. This is wise to note,” said Lien to Aftenposten.

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