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The Staircase From Hell

It’s been five days and my calves are still aching after my seven trips up the stairs at Holmenkollen. My coach had this bright idea that I should toughen up my uphill training. Mission accomplished. Normally, muscle soreness after a tougher training than usual sets in after a day, more often two. Last week, my calves started stiffening up the same evening, after only twelve hours. Whilst on a night shift. That was a lovely night at work, with all my usual running up and down the stairs of the Children’s Hospital. I don’t cry myself to sleep anymore, but I still can’t beat my daughter down the stairs from our living room. And she needs to hold her mom’s hand for support.

View from the bottom. 417 steps. Yeay.

View from the bottom. 417 steps. Yeay.

View from the top. I know you don't believe me, but downhill is almost as bad as uphill...

View from the top. Downhill is almost as bad as uphill…

Well, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, I suppose. Dad is doing good in his training too, and things are running along nicely, pardon the pun. This week will see me increase my training to 90 km with 102 km next week. If I can cram it into my busy schedule, that is. I’ll be spending both Saturday and Sunday at work this week, before a week of night shifts. After that, it’ll be off to France for a spot of vacation. If anyone knows of some nice training routes for long runs in the area around Antibes, let me know.

This Friday, I have seven weeks of training left. Oh. My. God. UTMB is racing closer by the day. I spoke with Margo – a coach colleague of mine – last week, and she told me about that race week in Chamonix the last week of August. She had signed up for the TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie), a 119 km monster race with 7250+ (!) vertical metres a few years ago and told me about the tangible electrical atmosphere in the village during the race. Everybody in the entire area turns up to wave the runners off and then return to cheer them on in the mountain passes and finally across the finish line.

UTMB isn’t even the longest race during those magical seven days in Chamonix, and eager trail runners have five beautiful races to choose from. Apart from the UTMB (168 km, 9600+) and the aforementioned TDS (119 km, 7250+), we have of course the OCC (Orsières-Champex-Chamonic: 53 km, 3300+) that dad will run. The two final races are the CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix; 101 km, 6100+) and the leviathan PTL (La Petite Trotte à Léon) which features 300 km (!) and 26 000 m (!!!) of positive altitude change. The PTL is only open to teams of two or three runners, at least one of which must have run the UTMB, and if I have understood the rules correcly, there will be no ranking. Every team that finishes is an equal winner. The maximum time to complete the race is 142 hours, i.e. a bit less than six days. Imagine that.

Here’s a description of the race from UTMB’s official site:

“The PTL® allows you to discover, while trail running and as a team, the most beautiful sites, the most inaccessible, the most engaging passages along the high paths of the Mont-Blanc massif. Despite the fatigue you will be blown away by the beauty of the sun rising on the shrouded mountains. The flamboyance of the setting sun on the sharp peaks will give your team strength and you will understand that together, it is always possible to go further…”

Now, if that doesn’t make you want to climb those mountains…?

A ranking of the technical difficulty of the five races. As you can clearly see, both TDS and PTL are considered difficulterer... difficulte... more difficult.

A ranking of the technical difficulty of the five races. As you can clearly see, both TDS and PTL are considered difficulterer… difficulte… more difficult.

As most of you know, Dad, myself and Jakob – who will crew for the both of us during the week – will be raising money for a very special charity this year: Hand In Hand International. Please help us support their grass roots work and fight poverty through the creation of jobs, and visit our fundraising site right here, or click on their logo to the right of this text.

Last, but not least, an enormously huge hug of congratulations to my dear friend Leo who ran his first ever marathon last weekend; the Nordmarka Skogsmaraton! You have to have balls to choose a tough terrain race as your first marathon… Kudos!

Loads of love,


Oh, and here are my last two weeks of training:

Mon 8/6        11 km (Wyller slalom slope x 2; 800 vertical metres.)

Tues 9/6        15 km

Wed 10/6      15 km

Thur 11/6      12 km

Fri 12/6          10 km

Sun 14/6        11 km (uphill intervals 10×3 min; ca 7% incline)

Total               74 km


Mon 15/6      12,4 km (Long intervals, 3×10 min)

Tues 16/6      20 km (450 vertical metres)

Wed 17/6      7,3 km (Holmenkollen stairs x 7)

Thur 18/6      12 km

Fri 19/6          8 km

Sun 21/6        12 km (uphill intervals, 300 vertical metres)

Total               71,7 km

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