By Teemu Virtanen
We, human beings, have always been keen on pushing the envelope and testing our mental and physical capacities. Extreme and ultasports have been popular among athletes for a long time, and that trend seems to be coming to skiing as well.
Anders Aukland and Joar Thele, Team Ragde Eiendom, skied 321 km in almost 18 hours, Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Eiendom, has won Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet, 220 km, three times in a row, Hans Mäenpää, Team Mäenpää, has the current Guinness World Record in 24 hour skiing, 472 km, and now Thea Krokan Murud, Team Ragde Eiendom, tried her wings in an extreme workout.
She skied for 24 hours with her friend Julia Vollum Bø, a law student who aims to run a marathon sometime soon. This Saturday at 4 pm, they started at the Lillehammer ski stadium where Birkebeinerrennet ends, and they went around on a 15 kilometer loop. Thea managed to ski 347,08 km, and her total climb in 24 hours was 2900 meters.
“I’ve trained a lot with Julia,” Thea says when explaining her reason for doing such a demanding exercise. “And we decided to do something that’s out of ordinary. I did a 100-kilometer workout on Tuesday, after which Jørgen Aukland suggested that I should try to go for 24 hours. I thought about it for a moment and figured that it would be something I haven’t done before – a true test of my limits.”
Thea used skating technique at the beginning but realized that it was really hard on her ankles and joints since she hasn’t done any skating exercises this winter. Then, she continued by double-poling. It got really cold during the night, and her friend had to stop and take a warm shower before coming back.
“We wanted to start in the afternoon to get good conditions and face the night first. After five hours, I was really tired as it was about my Vasaloppet distance, and I felt that I couldn’t do 19 more hours. But I kept going, and after a while I felt better. Another tough time was when my friend left, and I had to ski by myself. The night was mentally challenging, but luckily, she returned sooner than I expected. That helped me a lot even if we didn’t really talk much. When the sun came up, it was a relief!”
Thea admits that skiing for 24 hours was primarily a mental challenge where she had a lot of ups and downs. She didn’t shoot for any records, but she got quite close to the Guinness World Record, which is 375,564 km by Anni Angeria from Finland.
“The distance wasn’t important to me but to see what I can do. After this, I can say that anyone in good physical shape can do this, but the mental part is really hard. I thought that my body would shut down at some point, but that didn’t happen. We are much stronger than we think. But you need to make sure that you have enough energy and drinks during the whole workout. Otherwise, it’ll be a short undertaking.”
Thea is uncertain about her future as she hasn’t renewed her contract with Team Ragde Eiendom yet, but she wishes to be able to race more Visma Ski Classics events when the new season begins. Right now, she is training with her friend and living like the rest of the world by practicing safe social distancing due to the global pandemic.