The American Birkebeiner is an international athletic event, welcoming competitors from dozens of states and dozens of countries.
It's also a helluva party -- Wisconsin style.
That's as long as you don't mind a beer and a bratwurst at 5 degrees. Or some shots. Shots help. Shots. Shots. Shots.
I woke up to minus-five degrees at 7 a.m., which was warmer than midnight when it was 12 below. By the time I hit Main Street in downtown Hayward, temperatures had warmed to about 10 degrees.
But if you know weather in the Wisconsin Nort'woods, there was no wind and the sun was out. With those conditions, 10 degrees is quite lovely-- especially with a brat and kraut, a beer and maybe a shot of Dr. Mcgillicuddy's.
I've spent dozens of hours outside this week but because I was working, I couldn't really party. I have had a bratwurst for lunch for the last two days. My vegetable side? Sauerkraut. Which used to be cabbage, so that is a vegetable. I think.
Saturday will be the test. That's the actual American Birkebeiner competition for professionals.
You should see these folks move -- faster than I drive (I'm old, though, and the speed limit in Hayward is 25 mph in city limits).
My first, full Birkie has been an amazing experience. I love the people watching, the community support, the empathy for an athlete struggling. And the beer. And brats. And shots.
Peace unto Ukraine. And peace and a Wisconsin communion -- beer and brats -- unto my brothers and sisters.