2023 Birkie Race Report

3/28/2023 – Written by: Madeline Depman


This was my third Birkie and a big one for a couple of reasons!

Reason 1: First event as a Mama

This was my first event as a new mom. I was almost exactly 4 months post-partum, so it was a good gauge on how my body was doing and a good start to figuring out how to navigate an event as a mom. Physically, I felt really good! I have worked a bit more on technique this season than in previous seasons and I beat my previous best Birkie time by over 30 minutes! My parents were there to babysit and they brought Ruth to the finish! I was worried that I would be uncomfortable by the end, but somehow my body knew not to make a ton of milk during the race!


Reason 2: Birkie made some changes for parents!

I had the opportunity to work with Birkie and offer feedback and set up some more resources for parents! They implemented a deferral for pregnant and post-partum athletes as well as a lactation station at the start for moms to have a private place to pump or nurse before sending their drop bag to the finish!  During the race it was extra special for me to pass the warriors, Inga and “Prince Haakon” during the race, the history of the event had more meaning for me this year and I am so proud that I had the opportunity to work with Birkie and make improvements for moms!


Lessons Learned and Things to Work on

Managing timing and racing with a baby adds a lot more factors! I made a very detailed schedule for race day and lots of lists! I wanted to feed Ruth as close to the start of the race so I didn’t get into the starting gate until 8 minutes before the start! As she gets older and doesn’t rely as much on milk for nutrition, I imagine that this will get easier! It might have been a better plan to leave early and pump there – but it all worked out.
After my first drink my bottle ended up freezing so I was relying on aid stations for nutrition. Luckily the aid stations are great, so this also was okay, but this is something I need to figure out for the future. I have since learned that keeping your bottle upside down can help so I will be trying that out!
I used KinetXx lobster glove for this event and they were perfect! My hands stayed the perfect temperature! I do need to practice getting food out with them on though (again, ended up relying on aid stations for the most part).
This was my first time racing in a Nordic suit and I felt so fast in it!! Thanks Borah! It was also my first time getting my skis professionally waxed and wow did that make a difference! I noticed that coasting down hills I was passing people with no extra effort! Highly recommend Ski Hut Duluth!
I felt strong throughout the race and was proud of my consistent effort. I did not know where my fitness would be at 4 months postpartum and I paced by feel. I broke a pole with 15k to go and did not get one the right size until 7k to go so I was a bit slower through that section and had an arm/back/shoulder cramp from all the V1 on just one side. I was able to put in a bit of a harder effort for the last few kilometers and I had forgotten how amazing it feels to ski down Main Street and cross the finish line! I was so happy to see my little girl at the finish! (I think the first thing I said to my parents was “where’s my baby”)!
I feel so encouraged about continuing to improve and move up in the gates! Next year I plan to take some clinics and really work on technique. I’d also like to do more races so that I can practice these things – Ski De She is on my list!  Looking forward to more races with Ruth at the finish line! See you at Birkie 50!


Photo collage of athlete and new mom, Madeline at the American Birkiebeiner with her baby.

Share this story

Previous Post
Next Post
Empowering Girls and Women✊ Meet Angela Brooks, program director for NICA Wisconsin

Similar Posts


Training for the Epic Bike Fest

05/16/2023  Written by: Madeline Depman   Hi Birkie Friends! Looking forward to this Northwoods race in about a month. Hopefully,…


Updated 8/23/2023 – Written by: Chris Jackson Another year means another Birkie! Borah Teamwear is once again excited to be…