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“Beyond Birkie Fever” by Walter Rhein
Cross country skiing, autobiography, endurance sports
November 20, 2013
4 of 5 stars (very good)
This story of a cross-country skier’s experienced with the famous Birkebeiner race is a fascinating account of not only the history and trails on the course, but also of his trials and tribulations as an athlete. More than the sports aspect of the book, the human spirit aspects of the story are what make this book worth the time to read it.
Rhein takes the reader through his own youth and how he got the inspiration to take up the sport early in the book. His mother was one of the participants in the first “Birkie” (be sure to read the introduction for more great stories on this first races from other participants) and from there he gets the bug. The story doesn’t read like the typical autobiography, nor is it one where unexpected wins or fantastic finishes are documented. Rhein’s story reads much like other amateur participants of events like the Birkebeiner, marathons, or other endurance sports. It is an accomplishment just to finish, let alone win.
Some of the stories are quite humorous. My favorite one was of the time Rhein and his friend Doug decided to train during the summer by using roller skies. Between the hilarious description of the equipment itself and the misadventures while using the equipment, it was a great read. So was Rhein’s account of one particular marathon he was running when he was getting hungry and saw a partially opened energy bar package lying on the road. I won’t give any more away about that story, but it is one that the reader won’t soon forget.
Overall, this is a very good memoir about an amateur cross country skier and his trials and tribulations while training for and competing in one of the biggest events in the sport. Even if a reader knows nothing about the sport, it is still worth the time to read this entertaining book.
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
Do I recommend?
Yes. While the book is mostly stories about skiing, people who are looking for training ideas might also find the book useful as his stories about his marathons and other runs are helpful as well as entertaining.
Book Format Read: