Skiing more than 470 km in 24 hours

On February 22 Teemu Virtanen from Finland will try to break a world record in cross-country skiing in Stockholm’s Stadion. The goal is to double-pole more than 472 km around the running track, all in one day!

The distance adds up to skiing 1180 laps on the 400 m track. At the same time, Virtanen wants to become the first man to ski 220 km – the distance of the world’s longest ski race – in less than 10 hours.

“If the conditions are perfect, the service works according to our plan and I have a great day, I think I have a fighting chance to break the record!” says the 52-year-old.

The 400 m long running tracks inside the athletics arena that initially were built for the Olympic Summer Games 1912 become well-appreciated skiing tracks in wintertime. Almost any time of the day the loop attracts numerous amateur skiers from the Stockholm area who round the football pitch to train mile after mile for upcoming long-distance races around the country.

The names behind the record

Teemu Virtanen has proved before that he both can ski for a long time and distance. Already in 2010 he set a world record by skiing 433 km in 24 hours. Only two skiers have since then managed to ski longer within a day. In 2016 Swedish cross-country profile Erik Wickström got 5 km beyond but it should be Hans Mäenpää to literally crush both records with a new best mark of incredible 472 km done on home turf in Levi 2018!

Now Teemu Virtanen is determined to get back his record. The attempt in Stockholm doesn’t only mean that he needs to ski almost 1200 laps inside Stadion. In order to succeed, he also needs to do so at an average speed of 20 km/h (3 min/km). A group of pace makers will take turns to help Virtanen to keep the tempo up.

In 2018 Teemu skied from Mora to Sälen and back to Mora.

“I have prepared myself very well for the new 24 hour record breaking attempt, but I know that it is extremely hard. It’s not a walk in the park by any means, but I have done it before and I know exactly what it takes to break the record. It is a mental and physical challenge beyond your wildest dreams, but at the same token it is something extraordinary. To reach what we call the zone and keep going even if the world around you disappears, that’s the beauty of pain,” says Virtanen.  

To open strong will be crucial for the record

In order to compensate for probable drops in speed under the record attempt it will be important to start at a higher pace when the body still is fresh. If everything goes as planned, Virtanen is going to log the first 220 km in less than 10 hours. With this speed, he challenges yet another record.

The distance corresponds to the track length of Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet – the world’s longest skiing race that annually is organized in Jokkmokk, Sweden and leads through untouched wilderness above the Polar circle.

Norwegian long-distance professional Andreas Nygaard holds the current track record there since winning the race in 11:48:07 in 2017. Many believe that skiing 220 km in less than 10 hours would be somewhat of a dream barrier to break.

The next edition of Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet will take place on the 28th of March 2020. It will be a reunion of both actual and former record holders. All three – Wickström, Mäenpää and Virtanen – are to find on the start list. Just one question remains: Who’s going to carry which title?

Teemu Virtanen’s upcoming world record attempt

  • Date: 22/23 February 2020
  • Start time: 10:00 CET
  • Place: Stockholm Stadion, Sweden

Record history

  • 472.007 km – Hans Mäenpää i Levi (FIN), 2018
  • 438.575 km – Erik Wickström i Vålådalen (SWE), 2016 (inofficiellt)
  • 433.459 km – Teemu Virtanen i Kuortane (FIN), 2010