Presented by the North End Ski Club in Cable, the North End Classic ski race will be run this year on Sunday, February 12. This small, but popular event has been a mainstay of the local race calendar for 22 years. It holds the distinction of never having been cancelled in its long history; two events did have to be postponed due to extreme cold. The race has earned a well-deserved reputation as a well-organized, small town race with the feel of a much larger event. Funding generated from the race helps support the grooming and maintenance of the North End ski trails.
The race is just one aspect of the skiing and other recreational activities available at the North End. The club, a 501(c)3 non-profit, maintains the North End Trailhead, 32 km of ski trails, and 10 km of snowshoe trails in cooperation with the Bayfield County Forest and also presents the North End Snowshoe Classic and North End Trail Run. The North End Trailhead is a highly regarded local winter recreation site with a reputation for consistently groomed trails.
Over the years, the North End Classic has seen over 200 racers participating annually in 12.5 or 25 kilometer classic technique races with another 30 to 40 youngsters skiing in the Cookie Classic kids race. This year’s race returns to the event’s traditional weekend, two weeks before the Birkie. This is an extremely busy weekend on the regional ski racing calendar, with two other major racing events taking place in the area – the Pre-Birkie and the Wisconsin High School State Championships. The traditional weekend has proven to be a more convenient date for racers, particularly those who are already coming to town for the Pre-Birkie.
The North End Classic will start at 10:00 a.m. on the west end of the powerline on the Birkie Trail just off Randysek Road, two miles south of Cable and finish at the North End Trailhead located at 41640 Randysek Road. After a brief rollout on the Birkie Trail, the racecourse diverts onto the North End Ski Trail system. Racers in the 12.5 km event will make one lap of the course and finish at the North End cabin; 25 km skiers will pass by the cabin and make a second lap of the course. Depending on conditions, racers can usually expect a fast, fun ski, with moderate amounts of climbing and plenty of fast double-pole sections. The first 200 registered racers in the 12.5km or 25km races will receive a custom Borah Teamwear ski hat.
Younger skiers, age 3 and up, will enjoy an event their own, the North End Cookie Classic. The Cookie Classic will start immediately following the longer distance races and offer distances of .5 km, 1 km, and 2 km. The shorter Cookie courses do an out and back loop on the powerline, while the 2km adds another loop up the Birkie Classic and back on the Birkie Trail. The Cookie Classic is free and all skiers will receive a bag of cookies on a ribbon as their award.
Registration for this year’s event will be online or by mail only (download race entry), with registration closing at 5:30 PM, Saturday, Feb. 11. Race entry will cost $51 for adult racers through Jan. 31, and $61 from Feb. 1-Feb. 11. There is no race day registration. Youth entry (under 18) is $20 through Feb. 11. Online registration can be found at https://www.webscorer.com/register?raceid=299300. One dollar of every entry will be donated to the Great Divide Ambulance Service in support of their efforts in the community.
Bib pick-up will be at Redbery Books in Cable on Saturday, February 11 from 6:00-7:30 PM and Sunday, February 12 from 7:30-9:30AM.
Spectators can watch the start or finish by driving south from Cable and parking near the North End Trailhead and walking or skiing to the start area. Following the race, skiers may pick up their awards and enjoy hot pasta and refreshments at the Rivers Eatery in downtown Cable.
The North End Classic is grateful for the generous support of many area businesses and race organizers extend a hearty thank you to 2023 North End Classic sponsors! Major Sponsors: Borah Teamwear, Rivers Eatery. Gold Sponsors: Essentia Health Pharmacy, Hayward Area Memorial Hospital/Water’s Edge, Out There Nordic, Start Line Inn/Start Line Services. Silver Sponsors: Cable Area Chamber of Commerce, New Moon Ski and Bike Shop, Redbery Books, Sawmill Saloon, Velo Café. Bronze Sponsors: Backroads Coffee, Brickhouse Café, Cable Chiropractic Clinic, Cable Lumber & Home, Coop’s Pizza Parloure, Cresthill Resort, Drumming Woods B&B, Marketplace Foods, Northern Native Plantscapes, Rondeau’s, Town of Namakagon, United Church of Christ.
If you’re looking for a fun, enjoyable race to tune up for the Kortelopet, or perhaps ski a two-fer with the Pre-Birkie, the North End Classic will help you fill that bill.
Thanks to Ron Bergin for the article!