The race was inspired by a flight by Sweden’s future king Gustav Vasa, who was locked in a life and death struggle against invading Danes in 1521, and it covers the 90km stretch between Saelen and Mora in western Sweden near the Norwegian border.
Spokesman for the race Per Strid said, “Everyone who takes part does it because it’s a challenge and a feat.”
The first race took place in 1922 and has been held nearly every year since then. The Vasaloppet record is held by Peter Goeransson who finished the course in three hours, 38 minutes and 57 seconds in 1998, averaging a speedy 25km/hour.
Pippa and James Middleton are taking part in the race to raise money for Magic Breakfast, a charity that fights child hunger by providing breakfasts for hungry school children across the UK.
The siblings have so far raised nearly £6,000, helped along by a donation from celebrity and fashion photography Mario Testino, among others.