It is by far the world’s longest cross-country skiing race; The “Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet”, held each March in Jokkmokk, Sweden. This is an adventure under punishing conditions, as 350 extreme athletes are poised to endure a 220 km (136.7 miles) cross-country ski tour through the Arctic Circle, fully exposed to Sweden’s frozen polar climate and barren landscape. In the thick of it all stands a Bamberger and friend of Mahr’s Bräu, hardcore winter athlete Carsten Unger.
He is a man on a mission; representing Bamberg, the Wunderburg and Mahr’s Bräu. During a typical month, Carsten probably pushes himself through more physical and mental training than most people do all year. However there could never have been enough time in his day-to-day life to fully push his limits. In December, he took a five-month leave-of-absence from his fulltime job, and everyday life, to move to Sweden for his specially designed training program. Carsten wanted to entirely dedicate himself to race preparation, and also wanted to be fully immersed in this life-experience. Which is exactly what he did, spending some time engaged in the culture of Östersund, Sweden, and the remaining time strapped into his skis set on a course for the world’s longest cross-country race.
“The race, and the preparation for it, is an extreme mental and physical challenge,” said Unger. “No one even does 220 kilometers in one shot. In training I would certainly never go further than 100 kilometers at a stretch, and even that’s pretty tough. When it’s all said and done, your mind decides to continue or to quit. But I will give my best to achieve this goal…my goal.”
This is an exceptionally tough challenge and not all participants even make it to the finish line. In 2018, of the 350 starters, 121 athletes did not finish. Anyone who arrives safely within the 30 hour time limit is a winner, but Carsten is not one who is solely satisfied with just “arriving”. “A medal would make me incredibly happy,” says Carsten. Everyone who finishes under 21 hours and 22 mins receives a medal. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
He has mentally prepared himself, is physically ready, and on March 30th he sets out on this monumental challenge with 350 other strong-willed athletes – Team Mahr’s Bräu athlete, Carsten Unger. “Team” in this case, regarding the support that Carsten has received from Mahr (which was not only in the form of our finest barley juice from his local friends in Wunderburg). We can only stand behind him; he alone will have to tackle the world’s toughest cross-country ski race.
More about Carsten’s experience in Sweden – his thoughts, motivation and race preparation – can be seen on his blog Mission 220km or here in the days to come.