Forerunner #29:
Dr. Mark & Barbara Sharon

mark-barbara-sharonOver 150 years ago Mark Twain wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts”. This is certainly no less true today. Nearly 30 years ago in the winter 1990-91, the American Birkebeiner gave me inspiration and motivation to pursue cross country skiing during at a time in my life when I “needed it sorely”. Unlike those around me, now my only complaint about winter is that it often does not last long enough. The North American Birkebeiner has also introduced me to the Worldloppet which has taken Barb and me to many fascinating places well off of the usual tourist grid. At this time with her support I have completed 15 of the 20 Worldloppet ski marathons on 4 continents. Birkie 2020 will be my 25th.

I see the American Birkebeiner and Worldloppet, both the brainchild of Hayward’s Tony Wise, as a much needed unifying force in the world today. As we make our travel plans for skiing around the world using the tools of smart phones with international service and hourly weather forecasts, email, texting, social media etc, I cannot help but marvel at the efforts it must have required to establish the Worldloppet back in the 70s when a simple 2 minute international phone call took an hour to make a transatlantic connection. It is our hope that as Birkie Endowment Forerunners we will help to perpetuate the American Birkebeiner and share the positive effects it has had on our lives.

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