I have decided together with a good friend of mine to complete one of the toughest series of endurance races available in Sweden, called A Swedish Classic (webpage in Swedish). It consists of four separate races that you have to complete within a 12 month span, in order for you to be able to say that you have completed a Swedish Classic. So far the Swedish Classic diploma has been awarded to 23’486 men and 4’959 women since it started in 1972.
Update: As we were too late to book ours slots for Vasaloppet 2014, we will start the Swedish Classic with the Vätternrundan race and complete Vasaloppet in 2015 instead. A positive thing about this is that we will get more time to prepare for the various different races, but it is too bad that we won’t be able to complete the whole thing during 2014.
Update 2: We were lucky enough to get tickets for an earlier race called Engelbrektsloppet, which also is a part of the Swedish Classic race, which means that we will be able to complete the Swedish Classic in 2014! This is so exciting! On another note, I have needed to buy new gear for almost all of these races, such as new skis and a racing bike for the 300 km long Vätternrundan!
The Swedish Classic races are:
- Cross-country Skiing: Vasaloppet – 90 km – 2015/03/01
- or Engelbrektsloppet – 60 km – 2014-02-09
- Bicycle: Vätternrundan – 300 km – 2014/06/13-14
- Swimming: Vansbrosimningen – 3 km – 2014/07/05
- Running: Lidingöloppet – 30 km – 2014/09/27
The race that we will be starting with is the ‘Vasaloppet’ cross country ski race, which is 90 km long. It is the oldest, the longest, and the biggest (in terms of participants, normally with over 15’000 people in the main race and an additional 60’000 in related races the same week) cross-country ski race in the world and has been a Swedish traditional race since 1922. The race is held in memory of the Swedish king Gustav Vasa, who fled towards Norway in 1521 on skis. Read more about Gustav Vasa here. The race annually has millions of people in Sweden as well as around the world hooked to the TV or radio and is one of the biggest sporting events of the year in Sweden. Read more about Vasaloppet on Wikipedia. Vasaloppet is held annually on the first Sunday of Mars.
Vätternrundan is the world’s longest recreational bicycle race, 300 km or 186.4 miles long, circling the second largest lake in Sweden. The race isn’t officially a competition, but instead everybody receives an RF transponder so that they can find out their own race time. In 2011, 27’973 cyclists passed the finish line in the 30 hours that the race is going on for. During the race you can stop at any of the nine stop locations to receive water, food and a free massage and once you have completed the race you are awarded a medal, a diploma and a warm meal. Read more about Vätternrundan on Wikipedia. Vätternrundan is held during the weekend before midsummer, ever since 1966.
The Vansbrosimningen is a 3 km long race has been going on since 1950, with participants swimming with the current for around 2000 meters and then up against the current in an adjoining river. For the race in 2014, there are already 3643 people who have signed up as of the time that I’m writing this article. Read more about Vansbrosimningen on the official website (in Swedish).
In 2014 Lidingöloppet celebrates it’s 50th anniversary, which makes it an even more special event. The race is a 30 km long cross country running event. During 2013 there were 43’500 participants in the race, making it the largest cross country running event in the world. Read more about Lidingöloppet on Wikipedia. Lidingöloppet is held annually on the last Saturday in September.
As these races are all endurance races, we have both been training conditioning a lot, in addition to strength training during the summer. The summer’s training culminated in a short 5 km race on the 14th of September, where I due to stomach issues only was able to complete the race with a time of 29:56. Still, for my first ever race, it felt good to have finished in under 30 minutes.
I’m really excited to having committed to this project, so now I can’t wait for the snow to come so that I can start training skiing in anticipation of Vasaloppet. Of course I will keep you all update on the progress and the results of the races. Wish me luck!