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47th Annual American Birkebeiner breaks down new COVID-19 restrictions

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CABLE, WI -- As Mother Nature works on perfecting the course for the 47th annual American Birkebeiner in Cable Wisconsin, Birkie officials are working tirelessly to make sure this year's race goes on without a hitch.

"We need to make sure that everyone who comes is safe, secondly the community is safe," said Birkie Race Director, Ben Popp.

Between spectators and athletes, the Birkie usually draws in about 30,000 people, which is why officials added multiple COVID-19 precautions to prevent the spread.

The races will be spread out over five days this year, with only 1,500 skiers allowed per day.

"It allows us to reduce the numbers each day."

There will be no warming tents or transportation for skiers.

"One of the neat things is that we will be able to transmit to people's radios, we'll have a local frequency so they can sit in their cars and wait to find out exactly when it's their time," said Popp.

Spectators will not be allowed and the race had to cut down on volunteers out on the course.

"Instead of having people there handing you food and water staff has come up with really innovative ideas on how to distribute water," said Popp.

For the first time ever the Birkie will not only start in Cable it will end there too, leaving Hayward businesses like Outdoor Ventures having to get creative about how to draw people in.

"I don't think we are going to have the huge crowds that we normally have but I am sure there are people that are going to be coming downtown," said Outdoor Ventures Manager, Karen Fisher.

Fisher adds she is staying optimistic.

"I know downtown Hayward as a community is looking at getting events for that weekend as well to stimulate people to come down and get people to shop on our main street," said Fisher.

Popp adds if people still don't feel safe, they created a virtual option via phone app too.

"I think that's what is really important you feel connected to the community you love to be around and even though you may not be able to physically be here, emotionally we hope you'll still be a part of it."

Birkie week runs from February 24th to the 28th.

Lyanne Valdez

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