Perhaps this winter you skied 50-kilometers in a day. Maybe you’re a real go-getter and you logged 100 k in one go. Or maybe you’re Gus Schumacher and you recently clocked 200 k in a single outing. Regardless of your season or lifetime distance record, you can be sure that it pales in comparison to what Anders Aukland of Norway achieved this past weekend. Between Saturday morning to late Sunday night, a period of 41 hours, Aukland skied 700 k around Mylla Lake in Nordmarka, north of Oslo. For some reference as to this incomprehensible distance, it is roughly equivalent to starting at the Canadian border in Washington and skiing all the way to Oregon’s southern border, or traversing the entire state of Idaho from north to south. Or for an East Coast equivalent, skiing 150 k at the Craftsbury Nordic Center and then skiing all the way to New York City.
Aukland, who is 48 years old, has a lengthy list of career successes. He was a member of the Norwegian Olympic Gold medal relay team at the 2002 Salt Lake Games and holds three World Championship medals, a relay gold, a silver in the 30k classic and a silver in a 50k classic. Throughout his career on the World Cup, Aukland earned six victories and thirteen podiums. Besides his achievements at World Cup level, Aukland boasts major distance creds. In 2004 he became the second Norwegian to win the 90 k Vasaloppet in Sweden. In 2008 he won the 70 k Marcialonga and in 2010 he took top honors at the 54 k Birkebeinerrennet.
This recent 700 k outing was a step up from last year for Aukland. In April 2020 he and his brother, Jørgen Aukland, along with Joar Thele skied 516 k in under 32 hours, only to have this record broken just days later by Henrik Sollie who skied 528 km in 32 hours.
Aukland was accompanied on his effort this year by Simen Østensen who stopped after a mere 550 k and his companion from last year, Joar Thele, who completed 610 k. Together, they made it around 420 k within the first 24 hours, at which point it began snowing heavily, making the going tough.
On Instagram, Aukland wrote, “Have always liked to go far on skis, and this weekend we got to feel a little on our own borders even though we gave while the game was good.” (Translated from Norwegian).
Not only was Aukland going for a distance record on this occasion, but he was also raising money for the “Right to Play” Foundation, an organization that works in developing countries to help keep children in school by fueling and amplifying the power of play. Through his effort he raised around 1.2 million Norwegian Krone, roughly 175,000 USD. “Absolutely fantastic with a collection of 1.2 million to “Right to Play,” wrote Aukland, “And thank you for all the positive messages both at Mylla and afterwards.”
A new 24-hour distance record was also set in Norway the same weekend by Eirik Asdoel who skied 476 k around a 5 k lake loop. This bests the previous record set in 2018 by Hans Mänpää of Finland by four kilometers.
Growing up in Washington’s Methow Valley, Ella was immersed in skiing and the ski community from a young age. From early days bundled in the pulk, to learning to ski as soon as she could walk, to junior racing, a few seasons of collegiate racing, and then to coaching, she has experienced the ski world in many forms. Now, as a recent graduate from Dartmouth College, she finds herself living in France splitting her time between teaching English at a university in Lyon, avidly following ski racing (and now writing about it!) and adventuring in the outdoors as often as possible.