Running 400m is a fairly standard distance across athletics — few are going to go under 44 seconds, but the distance is achievable for most. There is one 400m race, however, that looks painfully tough.
The Red Bull 400 is a series of 400m races across the globe in which competitors are challenged to run the distance, but up a ski jump. Ski jumps are obviously designed for descent, as fast as possible, and include aggressive inclines, some approaching 40 degrees, that provides anyone contemplating going up — instead of down — a horrible obstacle to scale. In addition to all of this, because it’s a ski jump, it’s also at altitude, so all the oxygen competitors are trying to gulp down is scarce.
Still billed as a sprint, this is a test of speed and power, as well as endurance — all providing the horrible combination of lactic searing through racers’ calves and things, mixed with the feeling that your chest is about to burst.
The Red Bull 400 has now been going for seven years, and makes a point of traversing the world, visiting iconic venues, one of which has hosted the Winter Olympics. Last weekend, racers assembled in Almaty, Kazakhstan, at the Sunkar International Ski Jumping Complex, which is situated in the southern part of the city at a brutal altitude of 900 metres above sea level. Other highlights (in every sense of the word) in the competition include the Turkish leg, at 1,950m, Courchevel (1,300m) and Park City, Utah, at a lung-busting 2,126m above sea level.
The competition will also visit Austria, Czech Republic, Canada and Slovenia. Titisee-Neustadt, Germany, will also be the first official Red Bull 400 World Championships. In 2016 the best time was set at Whistler, Canada. Vancouver native Kieran Lumb recorded a time in three minutes and 48 seconds on a course that boasts a 37-degree incline.
Event dates for Red Bull 400 in 2017:
20 May – Erzurum, Turkey
21 May – Sapporo, Japan
27 May – Chaikovsky, Russia
3 June – Trondheim, Norway
10 June – Courchevel, France
1 July – Val di Fiemme, Italy
15 July – Titisee-Neustadt, Germany
5 Aug – Whistler, Canada
12 Aug – Harrachov, Czech Rep
26 Aug – Bischofshofen, Austria
16 Sept – Planica, Slovenia
30 Sept – Park City, USA
28 Oct – Sochi, Russia