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Island Hopping

The last week has been absolutely blissful. Under normal circumstances it takes me almost a full week to wind down in order to enjoy my vacation properly. This time, though, peace and calm settled in almost immediately. My lovely cousin has lent us her family summer house for a couple of weeks and for our new little family, blessed as it is with a tiny new member, it has been paradise. The house is located on one of the many islands in the archipelago west of Sweden and doesn’t have any internet, TV or radio. Though what it lacks in 20’th century gadgets, it makes up for in spades with panoramic vistas of windswept cliffs and tumultous seas. And don’t worry, it’s not a Norwegian cabin, meaning we DO have a WC, proper kitchen and warm water. The days are growing shorter (how can something “grow” shorter, by the way?) and summer is clinging to the island by the tips of her fingers. Late summer or early fall doesn’t really matter. It is a beautiful place.

Six days in and I have already finished two books, both of them related to running and both highly recommended. First, I finished Kilian Jornet’s Run Or Die in which the hugely talented Spanish trail runner simply writes what he thinks about when he thinks about running, taking the reader on a journey through several of his record-breaking runs, including the 160 mile Tahoe Rim Trail, the fastest run up and down Kilimanjaro ever recorded and my personal favourite: his insane project where he runs the length of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. A few times overly philosophical, the tale is never less than inspiring and lets you understand that it is the love of mountains, lakes and valleys that make this fabled runner tick.

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The second book Heja Heja was lighter fare with Martina Haag that in a humorous and easily read way recounts how she went from almost blacking out after a first twelve-minute run to running the Venice marathon after around 18 months of training. It took me about 20 minutes to plow through the pages but even so, the small book easily matches Jornet’s tale for inspiration, albeit it in a more light-hearted way.

OK, sports fans. Now to the big question. Have I done any running of my own during my vacation or have I simply sat in the sofa buried in books, diapers and baby drool? Of course I’ve been running, you dolts! I find a use superlatives in my blog posts more often than not, but I LOVE running on this island! It’s not for everyone but it certainly is for me. Most of the trails run over hard granite cliffs with white paint-markings every 50 metres or so, turning into a very rough gravel trail on several occasions when it bends around particularly steep cliff faces or dips down into small wooded groves. Having grown up in Gothenburg I’m used to rain and more particularly, wind. The wind’s been blowing more or less constantly since we got here and I love it! There’s nothing like the balance training you get when jumping from rock to stone on a path five metres above the foaming sea when all of a sudden a violent gust of wind tries to flatten you against a rock face. And the rain! Wohooo! My toes and the balls of my feet are constantly hurting from the effort of running on my forefoot in my INOV8 Trailrocs (good for gravel, bad for wet cliffs…). Since the island’s not that big, my 35 km longrun two days ago forced me to do six laps around it, but no matter. The trail is so much fun that if you alternate between running it clockwise and anti-clockwise every other lap, you hardly notice. At any rate, the path is poorly marked in a few places and I’ve run astray several times only to retrace my steps over slippery lichen-covered cliffs.

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91 km’s in six days is the grand totalt for this week. Tomorrow we only have five weeks left to the first of two big challenges this fall: Alesia Trail in Alise Sainte-Reine in France, a 50 km (1500+) race that will hopefully secure us our seventh and final qualification point for UTMB next summer. Oh, and QAC’s newest member – my dad – will be joining us for the event, having opted for one of the shorter distances.

Well, more details on upcoming races in future posts, but a teaser includes the abovementioned Alesia Trail, the final Salomon Trail Tour of the season, the trailrun Nordmarkstravern that kicked off this blog almost a year ago, and finally Oslos Bratteste which is a totally insane race going up a alpine skiing slope in Oslo. It’s pretty steep as the name (Oslos Bratteste = Oslo’s Steepest) implies. And those are only the races booked for September! Yeah!

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