Nordenskiöldsloppet - 220km on skis in Sweden

The Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet is the worlds longest classical cross country ski competition and it is based on a historical race from 1884. Polar explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld was doubted in 1883 that 2 of his men had skied 460 kilometers in 57 hours, and he thus created a race in 1884 to show that such feats are possible. The 220km course was from Jokkmokk to Kvikkjokk and back and Pavva-Lasse Nilsson Tuorda won that event in 21 hours and 22 minutes.

The ski technology has improved drastically plus trail grooming was unheard from back then. Thus the 2017 Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet was won by Andreas Nygaard in 11:48:07 and 5 other athletes managed to finish well under 12 hours. Triathlete and SwimRun maverick Jonas Colting also took part and he finished the race in 17:40:48.

""I probably fell on my ass more times during this race than during all my training combined leading up to this race," said Colting. "The tracks were OK during maybe 150 km considering we were only 250 people going both ways. But on the very temporary and narrow tracks in the woods with twists, turns and hills it was just renegade skiing best you could. Extremely hard, probably the toughest day of exercise in my life."

Early on the athletes were still close together but it ended up being a long day for all.

No one is being hunted here, the gun shot was the start signal in Jokkmokk.

Nicely lined up with almost 220km still ahead.

Eventual winner Andreas Nygaard taking in nutrition along the way.

Swede Tommy Gustafsson digging hard on the way to 13th place in 12:10:25. He is followed by Swede Erik Wickstroem who in the end finished 11th in 12:08:40. These two Swedes at the finish sandwiched Canadian Brian McKeever who ended up 12th in 12:09:38.

Austrian Karl Jany ended up not finishing this very tough event.

Through the woods and well spread out.

There were fans along the course but they had to dress warm for this occasion.

Estonian Heiki Prants leads a small group on the return from Kvikkjokk as another athlete is seen still heading out.

In the end it was 35th place for Swede Göran Hammarson, but he and the athletes behind him still had a long way to go.

A stunning view from above shows a small train of athletes in action.

With 20km to go the front group had still 4 athletes in it.

But with just a couple kilometers to go it was down to Team Santander team mates Andreas Nygaard and Oeyvind Moen Fjeld.

So close after 220km but Andreas Nygaard was the champion.

Fully spent and in a daze.

After the finish it was 14th place and lights out for Norwegian Kristoffer Nielsen.

The top female athlete was Swede Nina Lintzen in 13:01:00

The race continued as the sun went down and the headlamps went up.

Jonas Colting and Thobias Petterson look happy that they are done with their long day.