Skied the Birkie yesterday with 8799 of my skiing friends. The equivalent of the Boston Marathon, this is the big daddy of cross country skiing in North America. More than 30,000 people showed up in Northwestern Wisconsin for the events, headed by the 50-kilometer race that includes 39 major climbs through glaciated terrain. They came from all over the world, but mostly from the Midwest — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and even Ohio. At $50 a day and a two-day stay on average, that adds to a $3 million injection into the local economy. About $65,000 a year goes to various charities from the non-profit American Birkiebeiner Foundation. Two-thousand volunteers from the community made the event enjoyable and possible. A total of 11000 skiers participated in the range of events, including a record 8800 in the marathon Birkie and its half-way version, the Korteloppet. I survived the latter. Trail conditions were great, though the temperature never got above 7 degrees. Frost bite was a problem for a few skiers. A nice time was had by all. Forget the beach. We make our own kind of vigorous fun in the Heartland.