Super-extra-mega-ultra-races: Participation in extreme sports races as a cultural phenomenon

Extreme sports races, such as ultra marathons, obstacle races, swimruns, and very long races on skis or bicycle, in darkness and coldness, have become more and more popular in the Swedish middle class in recent years. In our project, we research the cultural aspects of women's and men's participation in this kind of races: races that are about testing boundaries and challenging yourself both mentally and physically in a fight with and against the elements. But what does this mean for the individual participant? Which are the participants' driving forces and motives for taking part in these races? And what are the cultural, social and political consequences of the participation in extreme races? The races themselves here become an entry and a mini-laboratory for studying the cultural views of our time: on recreational sports, gender construction, and equality.

The aim is to analyse, from a gender and instersectional perspective (e.g. class, ethnicity and age), participation in extreme sports races as a cultural phenomenon in Sweden, as well as the conditions for this participation - both for individual women and men in the races and for society at large.

The study builds on two main empirical materials/methods: 1) material collected/created via ethnographic fieldwork in a broad sense (including interviews, participant observation, internet, massmedia, objects etc), and 2) documentary and/or biographic lifestyle and inspiration books, written by participants in extreme races.

Funded by the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Research Council for Sport Science

Karin S. Lindelöf (project leader)
Annie Woube

Last modified: 2022-10-14