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Here's what the world's first night ski race will look like

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Screengrab from the video for the event.
11:14 CET+01:00
Sweden's biggest ski race, Vasaloppet, is going nocturnal in 2017. Organizers have announced that daring winter sports lovers from around the world will be able to take on the nation's most famous cross-country trails in the dark.

The day time version of Vasaloppet, which sees competitors slide 90 kilometres between Sälen and Mora in northern Sweden is already one of the world's most popular long-distance ski races, regularly drawing more than 15,000 entrants.

The team behind the event has decided that next year's participants can choose whether or not to make the endurance test even more challenging, by inviting them to click on their skis at 8pm before travelling through the night.

"We want to make a new kind of adventure and you can't find anything like this in the world," Ola Granfeldt, the event's PR manager, told The Local as a video trailer of the competition went live.

He said that as well as offering a change for seasoned skiers, Vasaloppet's organizers are hoping that daredevil sports fans who have yet to even try cross-country skiing will also consider spending the next year training for the race.

"Our plan is not just to make a new thing for cross-country skiers but also to catch the eye of adventurers around the world (…) and I do think there will be high pressure on registration."

There will only be one halfway checkpoint during the race, in contrast to stops every 10 kilometres during the daytime contest.

However Granfeldt insists that participants would be kept safe, despite the lack of visibility and subzero temperatures.

Only 1,500 people will be allowed to sign up for the event and all of them will be required to complete the race in pairs.

"We will also force them to wear head torches and carry a backpack containing food, dry clothes and a GPS tracker," he explained.

The chairman of Vasaloppet, Sven von Holst, who has already completed 37 Vasaloppet races, said that the project had been discussed for "many years" and that he was delighted it was finally going ahead.

"For me it feels amazing to be part of what is, in many ways, a historic moment. This is the complete nature experience. It's only the two of you, the historic surroundings and the sounds of the night." 

Participants will be allowed to race freestyle, which means that they can choose from a number of different cross-country techniques as well as using ice skates for some of the journey.

Granfeldt told The Local that while the fastest winter sports lovers are expected to complete the course in four or five hours, many amateur skiers will spend more than 12 hours in the dark.

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"They will meet the sunrise at the finish line in the morning and that's gonna be really cool as well," he said.

Vasaloppet is already one of the highlights of the Swedish sporting calender and has grown into a massive public and television event.

It is one of the world's oldest cross-country races and is based on Swedish King Gustav Vasa's attempt to gather farmers for a 1522 revolt against Denmark, which was occupying Sweden. After failing to get support, Vasa fled, but the locals then changed their minds and sent their best skiers to bring him back.

Registration for the new night race opens on March 20th.

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