A loppet or ski marathon is a long-distance cross-country skiing race that is normally over 40 km. The Worldloppet Ski Federation is the international governing body for the sport with the objective to promote cross-country skiing by taking competitions to locations all around the world. The federation was founded in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1978. Today 20 long-distance ski races feature in Europe, Asia, America and Oceania. Worldloppet also has 18 full members and 2 associate members and have their headquarters based in Tartu, Estonia. Each race entry is awarded points based on their finishing position, which is added to a global ranking system. Entries are also categorised according to their age group. Currently there are 12 age levels starting at under 20 and finishing at under 75, making marathon skiing a very popular sport for all.
The season normally starts in August with Argentina as the nation to host the opening race. Being the winter season in the southern hemisphere, Australia and New Zealand then following in quick succession. The calendar then shifts to China in December before the moving onto several race across Europe and North America. For participants who race in 10 different countries, one of which is not in Europe, a title of Worldloppet Master is awarded. Gold Master is for all main races and Silver for shorter races. Worldloppet races can easily attract over 10,000 participants, which often necessitates a staggered starting system. Elite racers will always start first, followed be less experienced skiers. Depending on the rules of the race organisers, skiers can either employ a classic or skate-skiing technique. Being a sport for both genders and almost all age groups, ski marathon racing continues to maintain the mantle as a truly global sport.