People often ask, “What is a loppet?” A loppet is a long cross-country ski race across varied terrain.

The longest cross-country ski race in North America is held annually in Wisconsin. Usually 10,000-plus skiers race between the towns of Hayward and Salen. In 2020 they expect 15,000 participants. This race, which is called a Berkebeiner, is the major economic support for the two towns. The Leadville Loppet is a qualifying race for the Berkebeiner.

The term Berkebeiner originated in Norway. In 1206, King Haakon III was killed in a civil war on Christmas Eve in Lillehammer. Two of the king’s soldiers carried his son over two mountain ranges in a major snow storm to Trondheim. The soldiers wore animal skins on their legs wrapped with birch roots (birkebeiner).

You may have heard the term vasaloppet. This originated in Sweden when Gustav Vasa toured the country trying to recruit countrymen to help free the country from Danish rule. He and his recruits had to flee on skis … hence the vasaloppet … long ski run.

Now that the history lesson is over, we can get on to the reason for this letter to the editor.

This letter is to thank all of the sponsors, volunteers, participants, and the onlookers who made this 17th annual loppet one of the best yet.

Volunteers staffing the four aid stations did a great job serving the racers as well as keeping track of who was on the course and who was not at any particular time. Thank you to the public for driving with care when passing by the aid stations on County Road 2 and 6.

The helpers for early registration and day of registration did a fantastic job keeping everything moving in an orderly manner.

Timing was exact, and the results were punctual thanks to the volunteers at the start and finish section of the course.

Grooming of the Mineral Belt Trail and the Colorado Mountain College trails was superb.

The soups and chilis as well as baked goods provided by many local home cooks were great as usual. Thanks to the ladies who made all the phone calls as well as keeping the crock pots full during the awards ceremony.

Thanks to the local merchants who provided prizes for the raffle. Also, many thanks to the merchants who supplied food for the awards ceremony.

The 1K and 5K races are not part of the official Loppet-Berkebeiner agenda, but they bring out a lot of the young kids and their parents. Some of them dress up in pretty spectacular costumes. Check out the Leadville Loppet website for pictures of the 1K and 5K.

Awards are given to the first, second and third places in the 52 categories. The awards are glassware engraved with the words “Leadville Loppet”. A large mug goes to first place. Wine and brandy glasses go to second and third places. This year we had 52 first places, 39 second places and 29 third places.

Again, thanks to all who helped make this race a success. Keep in mind that this race and individual donations are the only funds we have to maintain and care for the Mineral Belt Trail.

Howard Tritz

Mineral Belt Trail Committee

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