Completing a Swedish Classic – “En Svensk Klassiker”

Biking 300 km, swimming 3km in a river, running for 30km, and skiing across 90km. 4 disciplines, 4 competitions across Sweden. One goal, one year.

I always love the moment you contemplate a challenge and just think “whoooo… that’s crazy” and the second that follows when you think “I should totally try this“. And then, as quickly as that, you are set. And I was. This was in fall 2015, and I found out what will keep me busy for the next 15 months!

What is “A Swedish Classic”?

It is a scary, exciting and fun challenge: four competitions to complete within 12 months that test your endurance at proper viking standards. The “Swedish Classic” (Svensk klassiker) is all about pushing yourself and doing so by completing 4 swedish classic competitions within a year.

  • Vatternrundan: 300km of road biking in June
  • Vansbrosimm: 3km river swimming in July
  • Lindigöloppet: 30km of running in September
  • Vasaloppet: 90km of Nordic skiing in March

This competition is well known in Sweden where it is seen as a great challenge for people want ed to be at the top of their shape. Since it started in 1971, 100.000 people have been awarded for finishing a Swedish Classic and around 10.000 try to complete the challenge every year. It is so popular that getting a spot for the biking or skiing event is a small competition itself as spots are sold within minutes! But outside of the country, this is fully unknown.

River swimming in Vansbro, under hail! :-S – Foto: Andreas Hansson

 

Completing my swedish classic, a short story

Swedish resident at the time, deciding to sign-up for a Swedish Classic came quite naturally. Little did I know when I was starting this journey that a few months later, I will move to London, testing to the highest point how really motivated I was to complete this challenge!
 As I set myself this big hairy, audacious goal, I wrote: “For most of participants in the Swedish Classic, the goal is to finish. It won’t be different for me. This is way beyond everything I have done before, this ultra long distance training will be something totally new to me. Also, staying motivated overtime for 12 months is something that I have never experienced. I can only imagine how though this challenge will be… But I also set up myself another objective: to enjoy it, at least a bit!”

Today, having (not without pride) completed a Swedish Classic,  I can now say it has been an extra-ordinary experience -literally- and how much this is a fantastic challenge for sports and outdoors lovers. It didn’t came easy.

It took tears, bruises and blood, sacrificed evening and week-end but it also took laugh, awesome days spend outside, supportive friends and massive satisfaction.

It was all of this I thought about when I crossed the ultimate finished line, in Mora, after 90km on skis (preceded that year by 300km on a bike, 3km swim and 30km run).

A golden smile: finishing the Swedish Classic in Mora

Each of the challenge was an achievement in itself, some big, some smaller:

  • Learning to ride a road bike and biking from the evening through the night until 12 o clock the next day, for a total of 16h. (Vatternrundan: 300km cycling – 15/16 June 2016 – 16:02:00)
  • Swimming in a beautiful river consecutively under sun, clouds, rain and hail and having a blast! (Vansbrosimm: 3km swim – 6 July 2016 – 1:01:58)
  • Running my longest distance so far and managing an honorable sub 3h time, reaching my goal (Lindigöloppet: 30km run – 29th Sept 2016 – 2:56:32)
  • Completing the mythic Vasaloppet classic skiing race and daring to say: now I am not a beginner anymore. (Vasaloppet: 90km skiing – 26th Feb 2017 – 11:02:00)
  • And the biggest challenge of all: completing the 4 in a year!

The 4 “photo finish” of the 4 events

This was not a world’s first, nor did I break any world record. But the biggest victories are not about time, they are about pushing your limits, doing things you have never done before and reaching for your dreams. Today I can say it: I DID IT, and if I did, you can do it too!

Read also: A beginner’s guide to complete your first sportive (long distance)

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