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CABLE - In the cross country skiing world, the American Birkebeiner is well-known for its hilly terrain.
So this year, the race fittingly is going over the hill, celebrating its 40th anniversary.
"We've been preparing all year and skiers have been preparing all year for this day. This is the day, this is Birkie day. We're going to have 10,000 people on the start line this morning," said Ned Zuelsdorff, executive director of the American Birkebeiner.
The American Birkebeiner first started as a race to commemorate a historic event during the Norwegian Civil War.
Forty years later, it's widely recognized as one of the world's best cross country ski events.
"We've got 2,000 volunteers. It takes a tremendous amount of work. Without the volunteers and our race chiefs it wouldn't happen. It's a community effort and it's fantastic," said Zuelsdorff.
For many, the Birkie isn't just another ski race, it's a lifestyle.
Zuelsdorff said, "Many people focus their lives on it. It gets them out the door every day to stay active."
"In the summer they're doing dry land training, they're roller skiing, they're biking, they're running and then once you hit that fall time frame you can do dry land training to work on your balance and your core. Then, you hit snow and start to do specific training and try to get your endurance up and your speed," said John Lanser, skiing in his 16th Birkie.
But no matter how much you train for the Birkie, the journey from Cable to Hayward becomes even more daunting when you consider the course's high hills and steep climbs.
"There are very few places in the country that you're going to get this amount of variation and the consistency of it. It just keeps hitting you. You don't have a lot of opportunity where you can sit back and relax and ski," said Lanser.
Whether an elite skier or just a beginner in the sport, the thrill of crossing the finish line in one of the sport's most iconic races is what keeps people coming back year–after–year.
"I actually personally think and I'm biased that we're the best in the world, but it's what keeps bringing people back. And when they come back they bring their friends and that's why we keep growing," said Zuelsdorff.