The Norwegian name Birkebeiner, which was originally the name given to rebels during the civil war, today has a different meaning and is the name given to the largest sporting event series in Norway, which includes the biggest mountain bike race in the world.
The Birkebeinerrennet (ski cross country), Birkebeinerrittet (mountain bike) and Birkebeinerlopet (cross country run) make up the Birkebeiner series with more than 60,000 participants per year. The finish for all races is Lillehammer, the former host city for the Olympic Winter Games.
The history of the series goes back to the year 1206 when, during the Bagler wars, the son of the king, Skjervald Skrukka, was brought to King Inge Bardsson.
To this day, the Birkebeinerrennet remains on the original course that the skiers Torstein Skjevla and Skjervaly Skrukka used to take the child to safety.
To demonstrate the performance that these two skiers accomplished, each participant is duty bound to carry a 3.5 kilogram backpack that equals the weight of the king's son that time.