Vasaloppet (I guess we can call it the Vasa race in English) is the world's longest and oldest ski race. People between the ages of 19-89 years old participate and it's everyone from celebrities, royals, professional athletes to any other person who feels like challenging themselves. Along the way they consume astounding amounts of soup, drinks and buns to get some energy. The winner usually take about 3½ - 4 hours to finish the race while most other skiers take between 6-8 hours before they reach the finish line.
The race was founded with an important historical event in mind. In 1521 Gustav Vasa fled from the Danish on skis. To get help he decided to go to Mora in Dalarna which is up north a few hours away from where I live. Although no one is sure if he was actually on skis or not since those weren't that common in those days. He might have used snow shoes. He wanted to go to Mora because he knew they had weapons there after fighting off enemies in the past. but when he got there they refused to help him so he kept on going towards Norway. But when the people of Mora heard the news of the Stockholm blood bath (that's a history lesson for another day :P) they decided to chase after Gustav to help him. They finally reached him in Sälen and took him back to Mora. Two years later Gustav Vasa was crowned the King of Sweden. So now we have Vasaloppet between Sälen and Mora every year since 1922.
Only 116 peple participated in the first Vasa race in 1922. The next year a woman participated in the race but the year after that women were forbidden to join because someone decided that the race was "too hard and difficult" for them (oh go to hell will you please...). In the begining of the 80's women were allowed to compete again after a woman had dressed up as a man and been discovered when she was interviewed duing the TV-broadcast of the race. These days about 15 000 people from all over Europe particpate every year, but most of them are from Sweden and Norway. As a kid I used to love getting woken up on a weekend in March and with half open eyes watch the start of the race. The sun was always shining and the snow layed thick on the ground. I miss those days! This year, just like the last couple of years, I was too tired and slept my way through half of the race. Luckily I could watch it afterwards on the internet. But part of the joy is to leave the TV on all day to check what is happening and by noon sit down to see the winner reach the goal!