SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazilian native, Rayssa Sereno, is close to fulfilling a dream: to lead a dog-pulled sleigh through 300 km of Arctic tundra wilderness in the Fjällräven Polar Challenge.
“I hope to take Brazil to a competition that we have never been present before; it will be an honor,” writes Sereno in an e-mail to The Rio Times.
Since the early 1990s, Fjällräven, a Swedish company specialising in outdoor equipment, has chosen some 30 people from different places around the world and without wilderness skills to trek into one of the world’s harshest environments: the Arctic tundra
“I’m excited to maybe have the opportunity to learn about my limits, respect a wild environment, learn about the animals that will take care of me, and be open to all the learning that will come from this experience,” says Sereno who has been living in Switzerland for the past two and half years with her husband and baby daughter.
Over the years, participants have faced everything from blizzards and minus 30°C temperatures, to sun-drenched landscapes of white snow. In 2019 over 2,180 people from 92 different countries applied for the Polar Challenge. The winners of the competition go on a 6-day trek from Signaldalen, Norway to Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
Guided by experienced sled drivers and outdoor specialists, the participants will learn how to drive their own sleds, take care of their dogs as well as how to deal with bad weather and difficult terrain.
No experience is needed to participate in the challenge. Contestants are picked by an Internet vote. Those with most votes in a certain country or region win the right to participate.
To make the opportunity available to everyone around the world, applicants are chosen based on their country. Key markets for Fjällräven outdoor equipment, such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden, have two spots available while other, smaller markets, such as much of Asia and Eastern Europe, are grouped together.
Only one contestant will be chosen from South America, and Sereno hopes that she will be that person.
Although she has been a swimmer all her life, she says has had no experience with sleds and Artic landscape.
“I have never done anything like it and the opportunity for an amateur to go on this is an adventure of a lifetime,” she says.
The thirty-year-old lawyer says she first learned about the race when she came across it on the brand’s website while looking for a backpack to purchase.
If she is chosen to represent South America, Sereno says her father and husband will be there at the finish line to welcome her.
“My family always knew of my adventurous side and are very excited about the idea! They have been giving me all the necessary support so that I can go searching for my dream!!” concludes the Brazilian.
At the close of this edition, Rayssa Sereno was ranked fifth in Latin America, with 1,700 votes. Voting ends on Wednesday, December 11th and the race will take place between March 30th and April 5th.
“Please vote for me. I want to be the first Brazilian to participate in the Challenge,” Sereno asks sending the link to the voting page.