re-sized Murmansk region

One of the most extreme kite races in the world

This is a race that I have had some difficulty in finding more information on. If my interpretation of Russian is correct, then this 100km race takes place on the 9th – 12th April on Imandra lake, Monchegorsk, Murmansk – just beyond the Arctic circle. This truly is one of the most extreme kite races in the world.

The Murmansk Oblast, Kola Peninsula, home to some amazing snow kiting

Murmansk Oblast, Russia

Imandra lake has a surface area of 876kmĀ² and is 200 kms long. It freezes in November and the ice holds until middle of May.

Weather conditions in April can vary, but race day has generally provided wind speeds of 15 – 25 knots. However, if you get into a closed bay this could drop to 4 – 6 knots. Air temperature will probably be between -10*C at night to +5 during the day, and the ice on the lake is so thick that it can sustain the weight of a car!

The 100km race was first held in 2001 with 13 competitors. Only 2 of the 13 completed the race within the time limit. Both the number of participators and the number who complete the race has risen over time – but not hugely. 2007 saw 150 participants with 26 completing within the time limit.

The rules are fairly lenient – you can use a traction kite, a sail or anything that can harness the wind. In 2007 Graham Steel from the UK , the British Parakart Super Cup legend, made a special snowcharged kitebuggy for this race but unfortunately, due to technical problems, was unable to finish. However, an unfinished challenge opens up yet another challenge and Graham was determined to compete again.

The first man to complete the race with a traction kite was Anthony Baird from the UK. He finished in 6 hours and was placed 18th in the general ranking.

Here’s a video from savagemarx showing last year’s race (2008) which was bitterly disappointing as the wind dropped. It follows Graham Steel and Jonny Pople, an experienced kite skier, as they drive to Monchegorsk, to take on the challenge for a second time. This is a race that is completely dependent on the wind, and as with other extreme competitions such as surfing, it is something you cannot rely on. However, it gives you an idea of what you might be letting yourself in for…

and, if the wind holds up, oliron shows us what it should be like… sorry about the soundtrack.

The Imandra project is not only for advanced racers. Any snowkiter wanting to take part in this extreme race can do so, and, if he completes the race, can become a member of the “100 km Club”!

Here’s a challenge: nobody on a snowboard with a traction kite has yet crossed the finish line…..

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