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In 2011, former Olympic 100-meter sprinter Andreas Berger was driving past a ski jump in Austria with his wife when he had a seemingly harmless thought: “I wonder if running up this hill is physically possible.”
Little did he know his curiousity would lead to thousands of adrenaline-hungry athletes taking on one of the most difficult races of their lives.
Berger and his wife actually did run to the top of the jump that day, but the climb was so taxing, he imagined it would make a top-notch challenge for adventurous runners. Berger presented the idea to a brand that lives for near-impossible feats of athleticism: Red Bull. Berger’s concept became what’s now known as a Red Bull 400.
The basic concept is simple: Run 400 meters to the top of a ski jump that world-class athletes typically speed down. But anyone who’s participated in a Red Bull 400 will tell you that it’ll be one of the most painful races you’ll ever run—a nearly vertical sprint that’ll test your speed, endurance, and overall fitness.
Seven years after Berger’s first trek up a ski jump, the race has become bigger than ever. The 2018 season runs from May 12 to Oct. 27, and features 17 locations around the globe. One location in particular is garnering serious buzz: Ironwood, MI, home to Copper Peak, the largest artificial ski jump tower in the world. The jump’s sheer size and picturesque location make it the perfect venue for the grueling race, Berger says.
“The view is amazing,” Berger tells Muscle & Fitness. “It’s so tough to run up this hill, but it’s so wonderful to see the view from the top.” (He walked the course himself before the race location was set in stone.)
Bob Jacquart, the fundraising co-chair and re-development coordinator at Copper Peak, recalls the day Berger dropped by to check the location after a crew of Red Bull employees fell in love with the place.
“Andreas literally rolled up his pant legs and said, ‘I never judge a venue unless I walk it and experience the place where the athletes will be,'” Jacquart says. “So we rolled up our pantlegs and went up with him. It was quite an adventure, and for the race, it’s going to be pretty special.”
If you’re planning on signing up for a Red Bull 400 and want to make it to the top, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Click through for some tips from Berger and Jacquart that’ll help you conquer the grueling event.
‘Very Difficult, But Not Impossible’: 5 Tips to Conquer a Red Bull 400 RaceClose gallery popup button