Marathon des Sables, Stage 1 (37,2 km)
Sunday 7th April 2013
We woke at 5.45 am to the chatter of the English in the tents behind us, slowly rubbing the sleep from our eyes and sliding into sitting positions in the tent. The sun was just about to climb over the mountains again and when it did, it looked as if it smiled in anticipation of welcoming us to the first stage of Marathon des Sables. I was to revise my impression of a friendly face in the sky many times during the days to come. It had been another cold night and wrapped as I was in double layers of windpants, longsleeved jersey and windjacket, it wasn’t easy crawling out of my sleeping bag. Read more
Three days ago Eurosport broadcast a special program about this year’s Marathon des Sables. We’ve finally located it on youtube and have uploaded it here for you, so please enjoy the first official movie of this year’s Sand Marathon!
Marathon des Sables, stage 5 (228 km into the race)
Friday 12th April 2013
We charged down the dusty track and passed runner after runner, imagining ourselves flying graciously across the final stretch towards the red finishing line. In fact, we must have more resembled a pair of neurologically disabled convicts with Parkinson’s disease. Swallowing down a mouthful of water, slopping half of it down my shirt, I replaced the bottle in my pack and fumbled for my camera in the side pouch of my backpack. “We need to save this moment on a movie reel for future generations to be inspired by…”, “…or be deterred by”, Jakob finished graciously. “Yes, well there still are some sane people in the world, one might hope”. Read more
Back in lovely Göteborg for the weekend, I decided to try out my brand new INOV8 Trailrocs on the forest trails of Sisjön today. The Trailrocs are off-road shoes with only a 3 mm drop, meaning there’s only a 3 mm difference in height between the ball of your foot and your heel. It forces you to adopt a more barefoot running style, especially when running uphill where you have to land on the front of your foot in order to stay balanced. Leaving the missus sleeping soundly, I set out early from mom and dad’s house, running up the steep slope towards Sisjön. Instead of running down the familiar wide gravel path I dove down small trails into the brush at every chance I got, jumping from wet rock to slippery root in the morning breeze, the brilliant Trailroc finding sure footing every single time. Half-way around the lake the sun finally burst through the clouds, reflecting itself in the clear waters of Sisjön.
8 km of blissful morning glory!
Trailroc 245 and whaddaya know! They have them in blue :)
Still a little chilly, but in a week or two perhaps…
It’s high season for running races here in Scandinavia. Last Monday I wrote about the first Salomon Trail Tour of the season and next Saturday, on 18th May, the world’s biggest half-marathon Göteborgsvarvet is held in Göteborg. And yesterday the world’s biggest relay race was held in Oslo. Holmenkollstafetten was held for the first time in 1923 and 90 years later it’s still going strong. The course runs for 18,66 km counter-clockwise from St Hanshaugen up to Holmenkollen and then down towards the finish line at Bislett Stadium. More than 2 400 teams had signed up for this year’s event, meaning around 36 000 runners pounded the asphalt of the streets of Oslo yesterday. That’s a phenomenal number of runners!
Holmenkollstafetten is first and foremost a race where workplaces compete together as a team against others. Yesterday I was part of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit-at-Ullevål-team which was competing in the mixed class of “Firm/Company – Mostly Female”. I’ve always kind of liked the gender distribution at the NICU. It’s a pleasant workplace. But the most important item on today’s agenda was to beat our colleagues at the PICU (Pediatric ICU) at Ullevål and our friends at NICU at Rikshospitalet. The pressure was palpable as failure was not an option. I was to run leg eight, also known as the Downhill Run. Standing by the subway station of Besserud I spotted Erik in his green surgeon’s cap that we all had agreed to wear for easy recognition in the sea of runners waiting to take off. He had just done one helluva job climbing the toughest leg and was now sprinting towards me waving the baton in the air. Grabbing it, I turned to run down the asphalt and boy did it feel like I flew down that road! 1 800 m downhill in 6 minutes flat (560th place out of 1 958 for my leg) and the team came on 1 153rd place out of a total of 1 958 teams! These short races are FUN!
After my leg I had to run to work where my colleague Kristina was anxiously waiting for me to relieve her from her dayshift, starting a night shift of my own while the team was celebrating our victory over PICU (40 seconds!) and NICU Rikshospitalet (5 minutes 1 second!). Thanks Kristina for covering for me a few hours!
I kinda like all these races in Oslo. Wonder when the next one is.
It feels like we finished Marathon des Sables only a couple of days ago but it’s been, in fact, almost a month. The irony of returning home to our regular routines in chilly Scandinavia has not been lost on us and as you probably imagine, it didn’t take long before we started planning our next adventure. But before we reveal our future plans we need to review our desert ultra from all possible angles. What did we miss? What can we do better next time? Have we learnt anything from our experience? The answer to these questions is usually invariably no since we never seem to learn from our mistakes when the next challenge comes along. Still, we believe a summing up and evaluation is in order. We are still working on our respective chronicles of the race but in this post we would like to thank you all for your support.
Screen dump from our charity page at geef.nl
You have all helped us to surpass our goal for our charity which was to raise at least € 2 500 for The Children’s Ward at Saint Francis’ Hospital (SFH). The unbelievable sum of 40 donators have raised a total of € 2 575 which is absolutely amazing!!! We are humbled and grateful for your gifts and we promise that we will keep you updated as to what specific help your gifts have supplied the hospital with through the SFH Support Group. And during NY City Marathon last year you helped us raise more than 26 000 SEK (more than € 3 000) for UNICEF. Thank you! We will carefully consider which charity to raise money for during our next big project since we know that we can count on you to make a difference.
We would also like to send our sponsors a huge thank you. INOV-8 sponsored us with our lovely INOV-8 Roclites and they have carried us through every single step of the way. From the first to the two-hundred-and-thirtyfirst kilometre they have provided a steady grip and comfortable fit for our feet. We simply cannot imagine shoes better equipped to the harsh environments that we regularly race through. Chillout Travel Centre has provided us with huge discounts for several of our most important pieces of equipment, most importantly our life-saving sleeping bags from Western Mountaineering and our comfy mattresses from ThermARest. We would have had a harder time finishing the race without your help and support. Thank you all!
Our lovely INOV8 Roclites
There’s no doubt that I’m sleeping like a baby in my sleeping bag and on my mattress.
The Salomon Trail Tour is a series of nine competitions that will be run in the forests north of Oslo during the early summer and early fall of 2013. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I believe last year was the first time the event was held in Norway after having been a familiar part of the trail running circuit in both Sweden and the UK for several years. A colleague of mine gave me a flyer for last year’s tour and I was instantly hooked. The concept is pretty simple and varies a bit between the countries. Here in Norway the competitions will be held at 18.30 six Mondays in May and June followed by a brief pause in July and then picking it up again with three more race-Mondays in August. This year the start is held close to Sognsvann and the trail runs counter-clockwise around the little dam of Svartkulp where you have the option of either one (3,5k) or two (7k) laps.
Today marked the premier of this season’s event and I really didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. It could be that I’d meet up with a dozen fellow nerds sporting Björn Borg-headbands. In fact, the result list showed 117 competitors! The whole thing was very well organized with GPS-wrist bands and all. Salomon had a medium-sized tent by the start where you could try their different trail shoes on for a test run. “Not for the entire race, I guess?”, I asked the representative tentatively. “Oh yes, definitely! If you like, you can choose one of our models and run the race in it. Only condition is that if you get them dirty, you need to buy them.”, he replied with a smile. Avoiding getting trail shoes muddy at a trail run? You’d have a better chance of trying to keep Jakob sober in a Manhattan bar serving free drinks. I chose their top-of-the-line S Lab Sense Ultra which is a light weight trail racing shoe. Review? Pretty impressive grip on the wet surfaces and a comfortable but tight fit around my foot. Only drawback was a tendency to slip right out of them when I hit deep mudholes and almost left my shoes at the bottom.
I returned them EXTREMELY dirty, though. Also, I was panting and coughing so hard when I crossed the finish line that I thought I’d cough up some bloody lung tissue. I was so completely drenched in mud that I had to show the missus my photo ID through our peep-hole in the door before she let me inside again. Count on me coming back next week for another go. How’d it go? Well, the only drawback was that the timekeeping and display of results was catastrophic. All the results were jumbled together, regardless of number of laps on the overall list of general results. As far as I can tell, though, there were at least 42 male competitors on the 7k where I ended up as number 24, clocking in as number six out of eleven in my age group. Need to push the envelope next week, so wish me luck!