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# 4 2012


Early on in Nordic Ultra Winter Challenge. Only 40% finished!

Bislett 24 hour T M IRA N DA K V IS RY T E L L S H E R S TO

Nordic Ultra Challenge Kilian Jornet

ALSO WITH: H Running motivation in the winter months. H STATISTICS – Six days. The best of 2011

H Flexibility. Static vs. Dynamic. Nordic Ultra #4 2012



Get in contact with the editor by mailing:

Give winter a chance Welcome to the winter edition of Nordic Ultra. This is undoubtedly the quietest period of the ultra year, the only real standout points being Bislett 24 hour and Espoo later on in the new year. These are two large, well organised events selling out quickly every year. A large part of the reason that they are so popular is of course the fact that they are well proven events that have an excellent reputation. But at the same time I can’t help but feel that there are too few races in the winter in the Nordic countries, there is interest for more. Granted, the climate here doesn’t exactly make things easy and finding suitable running surfaces is harder than in the warmer months. I noted while organising the Nordic Ultra Winter Challenge that people want to race at this time of year and are willing to brave the elements. I received several letters of interest from very good runners that were interested in running a 130km race in cold conditions, unfortunately I don’t have the resources (personnel) at the moment to organize such a race. An event had to suffice. Maybe next winter?

drome? Come to think of it Bjørn Tore Kronen Taranger might qualify for that accolade. This will be the last issue of Nordic Ultra that will be produced in Sweden for a while. My wife and I will be travelling to Australia and New Zealand for 6 months both to spend some time with my family and for an extended working holiday. I don’t know if I can say that I’m going ‘home’ now as I’ve recently become a Swedish citizen. It’s going to be awesome to train and race in different environments. There are some great races over there but i’m going to miss the summer races in Northern Europe. I’m still going to be writing but be prepared for a lot of Southern Hemisphere action.

”My wife and I are travelling to Australia for 6 months.”

In the last issue I promised a winter running shoe test. I contacted several running shoe companies, two companies answered my email, one of them sent shoes. To be honest I don’t blame the other companies, they must receive a huge amount of emails from people wanting somethin’ for nuthin’ and marketing managers are notoriously busy but it’s always nice to get an reply, even if it is a no. I’d like to send a big kudos to Ice Bug for valuing the ultra running community and letting me test their shoes. I must admit, I’ve had a bit of a hard time testing the shoes, the winter hasn’t offered a whole lot of snow and ice in the Stockholm region, though Christmas in the middle of Sweden offered some icy roads to test. A few months ago I saw a guy running at ‘Rogers Bergtävling’, a 10km mountain race near the center of Stockholm. ‘This guy has his shit together’ I thought. He had long hair that Axl Rose would be proud of, cut off jeans and an armless t-shirt featuring a howling wolf. He looked like a running rock star, kinda like Anton Krupicka with a little more Guns N’ Roses thrown in. His friend went shirtless. What was I wearing? Short tights and a technical armless t-shirt. Nope, no howling wolf for me, but my t-shirt was made to make me faster… or? They both smashed out three hot laps only to go down in a blaze of glory and get beaten by everyone. Still, these guys represent the rock and roll that’s missing in our sport. The 100m runners have it, strutting around in bright gold shoes and gesturing to the crowd. When are we going to get our ultra rock star that dares defy tall poppy syn-


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

I’ve put off reading it for ages and I didn’t actually get around to buying a copy, I was given one for christmas. Yep, I’ve now read the modern classic Born to Run. I assumed that it was overhyped but it really wasn’t. I actually didn’t really like the story, I found it kinda dull but Born to Run isn’t about the story, it’s about the messages. The barefoot running message that is pushed in the book has lost its edge as so much has been written about the subject since the book came out but it was still interesting reading it from the horses mouth. A message that I found far more interesting was when McDougall encourages the readers to have fun with their training and racing and dare to go their own road.

Andrew Tutt-Wixner Editor in chief

(This is not an advertisment)

Cool shoe #2 You’ve probably seen the seen the New Balance minimus that hit the shops last year and quickly sold out. New Balance have brought out a new version of the shoe, this time with zero drop. Pictured is the NB MR00 (minimus road). I’ve only read good things about them, they’re supposed to be ridiculously light.

Do you want to run the

Marathon Des Sables

Coaching & gear for the extreme

A focused Andreas Falk. GAX Trans Scania 2010.

Photo: Zingo Andersson Nordic Ultra #4 2012







Nordic Ultra W

inter Challeng

Photo: Petter



02 EDITORIAL: 06 Ultra News 08 The Great Wall 12  M YRTO: Ultra intervals 14 Mensen Ernst 16 Bislett 24 hour ”I would look on the Great Wall as my friend.” 20 10 MINUTES WITH Gjermund Sørstad 22 C LUBS: Romerike Ultra Running Club 22 Nordic Ultra Winter Challenge 22


24 Stretching, Stiffness & Ultra Running 32 INTERVIEW Kilian Jornet 34 Product review 38 Monaco 8 day 40 I N THE KNOW: Winter running 42 Events Calender 46  S TATS: 6 hours The best of 2011 Nordic Ultra #4 2012



Do you have an idea for an article? Mail it to:

Last year for Antibes?

Podcast tip H Trail runner nation is a

new American podcast that focuses on trail running, specifically ultra-trail. They have only come out with ten podcasts so far but that’s not bad considering they started in December last year. The issues that i’ve listened to have been full of interesting and useful ultra tips. It is very similar in style to ultra runner podcasts which I tipped in a previous issue. There really is an abundance of ultra running media now. We really are spoilt for choice. //

What do you want to read about in Nordic Ultra? Do you want to contribute? Send an email to nordic.

Talking ultra

H Lidingö Ultra in conjuction with Andreas Falk, Running Sweden and Access Rehab are holding an ultra night the 26/1 at Runnersstore in Stockholm. Andreas will be giving an introduction to ultra and some tips. Running Sweden will be talking about their training programs and access rehab will be talking about preventing and dealing with injuries. On top of that the store is offering 20% discount on most of their stuff. //


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

H Finnish ultrarunner

Jukka Viljanen has begun his 2000km solo run across the Sahara Desert. According to his website it is the first time it has been done. Jukka will run 50km a day on average for 35 days to complete the challenge.

Although he is running solo a support crew will supply him with his daily needs of food, water and stove fuel. This isn’t the first desert Jukka has run. In 2010 he ran 1000km across the Kalahari.

100km World cup teams announced

H Several Nordic ultra comit-

tees have announced their teams for the 100km world and european cup to be held the 22nd of April in SeregnoBrianza in Italy. Norway was first to announce their strong looking troop. The ladies team features Sharon Broadwell, Anne Jorunn Hodne, Margrethe Løgavlen, Rita Nordsveen, Marte Pedersen and Marit Årthun. The mens team looks promising too if you look at many of their recent 6 hour performances. The team has Per Olav Bøyum, Runar Gil-

Swedish 100km team camp H The Swedish 100k ultra

team will be having a camp at Bösön, outside of Stockholm on the 11th and 12th of February. It is the first of its kind in Sweden. It is an exciting development. The legendary Rune Larsson and Kristina Paltén will be holding the camp. //

berg, Robert Hansen, Jarle Risa, John Henry Strupstad, Gjermund Sørstad and Bjørn Tore Kronen Tarange. I have not been able to get hold of the other national teams yet. Sweden has decided on their national team but are waiting for the athletics association to publish them, it’s a political thing...I’d bet a weeks wages that Jonas Buud, Gloria Vinstedt and Kajsa Berg are in the troop. Buud is always a natural choice, Gloria came 7th last year and Bergs sub 8 hour 100km time at Bislett shows real class.//

Trondheim to Oslo

H It’s official! The Trond-

heim – Oslo race that I talked about in the last issue is going to happen. Entries have been open since Christmas. So far nine people are registered, all Norwegian, including the mighty Jon Harald Berge and Sharon Broadwell. //

H Rumour has it that this

years edition of the six year old event Antibes Ultra Festival is going to be the last. Race director Gérard Cain stated that it is due to ‘lack of gratitude in the region’. Possibly a call out to sponsors in the region? Or is he looking for more runner involvement? He also expressed disappointment that the race hasn’t developed into the festival he was hoping for. Last year Antibes could boast 200 runners from 19 different countries. The competition runs between the 3/9th of June and also boasts 48h and 72h classes as well as treadmill and walking classes.//

Wiggle sold for €218 million H The popular online shop has been recently been sold to Bridgeport for €218 million. The company started in 1999 selling bike accessories and soon expanded to capture a larger part the triathlon market. Wiggle reported strong growth in 2010 55% up from 2009. The company has over 600 000 customers, a large percentage of those are based outside the UK. Are Wiggle going to be able keep their prices at the same level as previously. What do you think?

Petri on his way to the Nordic record.

Photo: Jari Tomppo

New Nordic 24 treadmill record H Between the 10th and 11th

of December Finlands Petri Perttilä broke the Nordic 24h treadmill record. The record was achieved in a sport hall in Helsinki with a team of minders keeping him fed and observing the record attempt. Petri made it 238.46km smashing Gunnlaugar Juliussons

(ISL) year old Nordic record of 208.76km earning Petri a fourth place in the world rankings. He even came within a whisker of beating his his P.R from Bislett last year. It’s all the more impressive when you consider that Bislett was only two weeks prior to the record run.//

All time mens results 1. BERGLAND, Christopher



2. ARBONA, Serge



3. GRAF, Karl



4. PERTTILÄ, Petri






Treadmill record rules

• A standard treadmill exercise fitness machine should be used for the attempt. • The setting of the machine is at the discretion of the competitor (but using downhill mode is not an option). • It is not permitted to lean on the ”handle-bar”. • The belt must be strictly stopped before the attempt leaves the treadmill. • The venue for the record attempt must be open to the general public for the duration of the attempt • Rest breaks may be taken at the discretion of the competitor but they are included within the time for the attempt. The clock does not stop. For example, if the 24 hrs-event starts at 11 am on Monday, it must finish at 11am on Tuesday. • For the distance records (100 km, 100 miles etc.), two timekeepers should time the attempt with highly accurate stopwatches. • A log book should show the time taken for rest breaks as well as either the distances after each hour or the times after each completed kilometre or mile. • A calibration certificate for the treadmill and two signed statements by at least two sports referees should be provided.

Grundahl Nominated for for Athlete of the Year Award Good job Anna! Here are the other contestants both male a female. Eliot Kiplagat Biwott KEN 1st 50km World Trophy Final Patrick Bringer FRA 3rd Trail World Championships Giorgio Calcaterra ITA 1st World 100km Championships Erik Clavery FRA 1st Trail World Championships Ivan Cudin ITA 1st Spartathlon 2011 Andrew Henshaw USA 3rd World 100km Championships Kaito Iwayama JPN 3rd World Trophy Final 2:59:12 Kilian Jornet ESP 1st Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc 20:36 :00 Rainer Wilfried Koch GER 1st L.A to N.Y Foot Race 522:55:56 Jason Loutitt CAN 2nd Trail World Championships 6:40:32 Andras Low HUN 25th Ultrabalaton 212km 25:53:05 Ian Sharman GBR 1st Rocky Racoon 100 Miles 12:44 Pieter Vermeesch BEL 2nd 50km World Trophy Final 2:57:23 Michael Wardian USA 2nd World 100km Championships 6:42:49

Lindsay Anne Van Aswergen RSA 3rd 100km WC 7:42:05 Meghan Arbogast USA 5th 100km World Championship 7:51:10 Marina Bychkova RUS 1st 100km World Championships 7:27:29 Monica Carlin ITA 1st 100km del Passatore 7:45:28 Lucy Colquhoun GBR 3rd Trail World Championships 7:57:20 Angela Gargano ITA 1st 12 Hour Belgrade 96km Maud Gobert FRA 1st Trail World Championships 7:41:31 Emma Gooderham GBR 1st 50km World Trophy Final 3:17:30 Anna Grundahl SWE 1st 24 Hour Bronholm 221.681km Susan Harrison GBR 2nd 50km World Trophy Final 3:25:05 Lizzie Hawker GBR World Best 24 Hours Outdoors 247.06km Sumie Inagaki JPN World Best 24 Hours Indoors 240.631km Mami Kudo JPN World Best 48 Hours Outdoors 368.687km Szilvia Lubics HUN 1st Spartathlon 2011 29:07:45 Debbie Martin-Consani GBR 5th 24 Hr Commonw.Cham. 208.057km Cecilia Mora ITA 2nd Trail World Championships 7:50:02 Kami Semick USA 3rd Comrades Marathon 6:26:25 Joanna Zakrzewski GBR 2nd 100km Wold Championships 7:41:06 Nordic Ultra #4 2012


THE GRE 6000km across China

One of the few days Robert relaxed before bed 8 time. Nordic Ultra #4 2012

AT WALL TEXT: Andrew Tutt-Wixner PHOTOS:

Robert Löken

Robert Löken is the quintessential everyday adventurer. He’s that guy that you worked with that up and left one day and did something wonderfully crazy that secretly made you insanely jealous.


hat’s exactly what Robert did. The photography educated, IT engineer quit his stable job, renovated and sold his detached Oslo house, left his family and friends for a year to pursue his dream, to be the first person in the world to walk the whole 6000km of the Ming dynasty ’Great Wall of China’. His dream was not exactly a fleeting one. 21 years earlier when he was a teenager Robert walked along Hadrians Wall, a wall that divided Britain west to east. While at a youth hostel along the way he eyed a poster of ’The other wall’, a poster which captured his imagination for the following two decades. Those that have visited the wall can surely understand. The popular tourist attraction near Beijing gives everyday people a small taste of the thousands of kilometers wall and watchtowers that snake through the mountains into the distance. A sight that taunts the adventurer within many a soul. In Roberts case his workmates and family could hardly be surprised. He had previously taken unpaid leave in order to paddle a kayak from the Lindesnes to North Cape, Norways most southerly point to it’s most northerly point. An undeniably gruelling trip in its own right. Meeting his kindergarten teacher inspired him to pursue his lifelong dream. In 1998 he walked 600km of The Great Wall in the hope that it would satisfy his desire. It only added fuel to the fire. It took Robert quite a while to jump into the project boots ’n all. He explains that in the beginning it was 20% probable that he would undertake the trip. As the scales tipped over 50% there was no stopping him. I was the culture and language that Robert was least prepared for. He took a 6 month course in Mandarin but explains that he often had problems communicating, ”I can talk about my family, order a train ticket and make people laugh. You

can make it a long way on that”. His language problem wasn’t helped by the many dialects he met along the way. Despite this he took as much contact with the local chinese as possible which no doubt enriched his journey. Some of them were understandably apprehensive of light skinned man coming from nowhere towards their village. The distance between him and the local population contributed to the sense of loneliness he experienced in the over 500 days he hiked alone on the wall. The feeling of loneliness was especially obvious when his Chinese speaking brother Jon left after the two months he had promised to walk with Robert. Keeping contact with his friends and family via his homepage and Skype helped with the mental bit. Robert started his walk in 2009 on the western most point of the Ming dynasty Great Wall at Jiayuguan, a town in Gansu Province in the Gobi Desert. He walked in high summer temperatures that were up to 40 C in the shade, unfortunately there wasn’t any shade! He walked 4 to 8 hours in the heat of the day. He was forced at some points to carry 10 litres of water to get between water sources, he often ran out of water before the reached them. It was also hard to make decent progress due to the soft desert sand, sand that caused blisters on his feet due to rubbing. During the stretch through the Gobi Desert Robert lost 8kg of bodyweight. Robert explains that he lost his appetite due to the heat. In the middle of the heat wave Robert was forced to find an air-conditioned hotel to wait out in. On this part of the trip it was not even always obvious where the wall actually was. Far from the manicured version of the wall tourists are brought to, due to erosion and wandering sand the rammed earth wall of the first sections would sometimes disappear altogether. The wall at this point was more of a ruin than a wall that was possible to walk on.

Nordic Ultra #4 2012


It aint much but it’s home!

Climbing is tough work.

Before the trip Roberts hiking partner Fredrik introduced him to lightweight hiking. His mantra while packing being, ’I’m not climbing Mount Everest’, meaning he didn’t need the most durable items available. The idea being that the less weight he needed to carry the quicker he could move and the less load would be on his body. He weighed everything pedantically taking the lightest versions of items possible though he splashed out a little bringing a small computer to update to website with. One of the most useful items he brought along was an umbrella, helping keep the sun off, no doubt saving on water consumption too. Having such a light load meant that he could hike in running shoes for the first half of the trip. He lived in a lightweight three season tent during the first half the trip but was sometimes invited in to sleep in peoples homes. He had a comprehensive medical kit with him, ”If I break something for example it’s important to take pain killers so the pain doesn’t take over my body. That’s when you make dumb decisions”. The second half of the trip demanded tougher equipment. He changed both clothing and tent to more winter suitable models. He also switched to heavier hiking shoes with a Gore-tex liner because of both the low temperatures and the terrain. After the desert section the terrain got both steeper and rockier, sometimes with thick, thorny bushes sometimes hampering progress to as low as 1km/hr. The wall at this point was made of brick and stone. In Shanxi province temperatures reached -20 some days, Robert was tent bound some days because of the cold. In the mountainous areas Robert was often forced to make long detours to get past obstructions such as cliff faces and river valleys. In the areas where the wall was better preserved he was fortunate enough to be able to take his rest breaks in abandoned temples and watchtowers. It was hard work but he was often rewarded by breathtaking views and discoveries of inscriptions in the bricks. Robert was often breaking trail which resulted in slower progress than planned. He had planned on the 6000km taking a year but it took much longer than so. The whole trip took 601 days. When he was walking he averaged 20 km/day though progress sunk sometimes a slow as 5- 10km/ day. Walking to towns for food and water took time but what took most time were his visa runs to Hong Kong. He was only allowed to be in the country to six months at a time. The threat to the Great Wall became obvious to Robert. At one point a new eight lane highway crossed the wall. In Heibei a large amount of the wall was inundated by the Panjiakou Reservior, only the guard towers being visible on the surface. At many other points of the walk construction was underway close


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

to the wall. The wall had in some areas been dug out as houses and cages for animals. This could actually be a positive thing, what better incentive to the owners have to maintain the wall that having it as a roof above their head. When Robert returned to Norway Nordic Ultra got the chance to ask him some questions. Was there a part of the wall that was especially inspiring? – Walking along the Great Wall in the desert was a very special experince. As a Norwegian, I had very little experience with walking in a desert. I had to start extremely early in the mornings trying to avoid the worst hours in the middle of the day. During the worst periode in the middle of the summer, I would be wet with sweat even before 7 o’clock in the morning. Often I would only have my little umbrella to hide beneath during the 3-4 hottest hours of the day. It was directly painful. If I lay down on the ground to rest, my legs would stick out and get overheated. The only other option was to sit upright which was not a good way to rest. The sun soon heated the sand under my feet so much that it was like walking with one sun above me, and one under. The evenings in the desert were fantastic. I would often wait untill dusk before pitching the tent. Being alone in the third larg-

Sand had hidden the wall in many places.

A happy old man that Robert met.

”At one point a new eight lane highway crossed the wall.” est desert in the world, looking up on the bright stars brought a lot of feelings. It was tempting to sleep without the tent as the sand still retained a lot of heat into the small hours of the night and would make it very hot in the tent. But the desert is the home to a number of snakes. Also, the scorpions had a tendency to seek shelter under my tent during the night, so I wanted to protect myself from them. Sometimes, I would have to shake scorpions off my tent when I packed it down in the mornings. What makes the Great Wall so special? – To me, the Great Wall is so special because it is the largest structure man made structure in the world. I walked together with my brother the two first months of the expedition, but after that I would look on the Great Wall as my friend. Every time I had to leave the trail, and then returned, I would greet it as a friend. It was fascinating to see how the Great Wall goes through so

A degraded section of the wall.

many different geological zones. The Gobi desert, the border of Inner Mongolia with its loess plateau, then the lush and wild mountainous terrain in Beijing and Hebei, the plains of Liaoning and finally the mountains North of Northern Korea. The Great Wall was always buildt with locally available resources, and it was interesting to see how both the design and building materials changed over time. Also, I was happy to see the Great Wall in all seasons of a whole year. In fact, almost two years. How did it feel to return to Norway? – Returning to Norway after spending the better part of one and a half years alone was difficult. Being alone in China for so long had slowly eroded parts of my identity. I knew before leaving that I would be without friends and family, without my belongings, and all that was known and dear to me. But I had not thought much about that it would also in some degree deprive me of meaningful conversations, language, humour and feeling as a natural part of a society. All important factors for being a ’whole’ person. Without really being aware of it, my identity was slowly being wiped away. It was first on return to Norway that I started realizing how hard the walk had been mentally. So I spent a lot of time starting to piece together my identity. It is hard to explain, unless you have been exposed to something similar before.// Nordic Ultra #4 2012



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Ultra intervals & lessons learned by: Myrto Pitsava


ltra intervals. The gateway drug to ultra races. November 12th marked the fourth time Swedish running website organised this slightly insane event. The idea is that the participants run up to eight 10-kilometre intervals, one every three hours, starting Friday at midnight. 80 km in all. A relatively safe way for those of us who are new to ultra running to test how much our bodies can take. Having missed the opportunity to participate on previous occasions because of injuries and illness, I was really looking forward to going for it this time. Some running friends and I decided to run these intervals together. We had scouted a flat there-and-back route beforehand that started just outside the door. We met up a couple of hours before we were due to start, to set up our sleeping bags and mattresses. I was nervous, in fact more so than before any race that I’d ever run. I kept telling people that I’d be happy with 5-6 intervals, but I’d secretly hoped I’d manage all 8. What followed was an epic experience, one which I’ll never forget. The struggle to make myself fall asleep between intervals while high on adrenaline. The struggle to get out of the sleeping bag when it was time to run again, five minutes after I’d finally managed to fall asleep. The cold and darkness outside that made me reluctant to leave the indoors warmth. The stiffness in my legs, that no cold shower could counteract. The repetitiveness of running up and down the same path that I’d already run on many times before. The physical effort of running so many kilometres in one day. The fight against all demons that told me I should give up, and against the fear that I would have to. But the mind is a tricky thing, and these memories are already starting to fade. What I remember instead are the laughs with my friends between intervals. The midday sun on my face and the exhilaration after the relatively easy noon interval. The happiness and pride I felt upon completion of all 8 intervals. The little dance I did afterwards. The lessons I learned about myself and what I’m capable of.


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

One important insight was how much my friends helped me. The courage I drew from them and their strength carried me through the day. Their enthusiastic exclamations that “This is fun!” reminded me that it was, indeed, fun to do something so outrageous (even though these exclamations turned into the less encouraging “Ouch, ouch!” towards the end – echoing my own). My non-running friends and family were a great help too; their heartening messages, sent to me even in the middle of the night, kept me going. Physically, I could run the 80 km and was fit for a fight a few days later already, which is a very good sign about the level of fitness I have right now. Mentally, however, I have a lot of training to do before I can run an ultra race. Having an army to fight your demons with kind of makes it feel like cheating. It is a conundrum; I love heading out for a long run with my friends. The social aspect of running is very rewarding. Not to mention the new frontiers that we conquer together. On the other hand, running ultras is just as much about mental strength as it is about physical strength. Maybe more so. It takes determination and an ability to spend hours lost in your own mind, looking at yourself in the mirror and liking what you see (or dealing with it if you don’t). And, should the route you’re running be a dull one, you have boredom to fight too. Is having friends to run with on those long runs the psychological equivalent of taking performance enhancing drugs? After all, you get there in the end, but not just by your own strength. Or is it more like an energy drink, giving you an extra kick when you need it? And the question is, does your performance still count if you get help along the way? I would never have managed to run all 8 intervals if it hadn’t been for my friends. That warm sleeping bag would have swallowed me whole and spat me out in the morning, well rested but full of regret. I am thankful that they were there to help me get out there in the middle of the night and to make me see that I could when I doubted myself the most. Does it matter that I’m not strong enough mentally to do this on my own yet? Does it make what I achieved any less meaningful? Not one bit. It was a very important step in the right direction and a valuable lesson. Now I know what I need to improve on. //


LIDINGÖ The AXA red runs at PMS 485c. If the situation should arise where 5 colours or less are to be used and this red cannot run as a special then it can default to 100m 100Y The AXA oat runs at PMS 124c. If the situation should arise where 5 colours or less are to be used and this yellow cannot run as a special then it can default to 35m 100Y


The largest ultra marathon in the Nordic countries! Join us for an ultra marathon in beautiful surroundings on the island of Lidingö, in the archipelago of Stockholm. Choose between 50 or 26 km, for both men and women, and run on classical cross country running paths. Combine this rural ultra race with a trip to Stockholm city and you will get a perfect weekend tour.


Welcome to Lidingö and Stockholm April 28, 2012!


TEXT: Andrew Tutt-Wixner PHOTO:


Mensen Ernst was a legendary Norwegian ultramarathon runner in the early 1800s. Mensen was born in Fresvik, Norway 1795 as Mons Monsen Ă–yri to a poor family.


is father was said to be an English sea captain and his mother a descendant to the famous viking 'Eric the red'. He changed his name to Ernst when he became professional, it was his stage name. He never married, but he often spent time with Countess Von Bedemeyer, spending three years at he castle and visiting frequently after. His soul was much to restless to stay in one place, hence his motto, 'To move is to live and standstill is death'. At a young age he moved to England and joined the navy. He served several years and travelled over much of the East Indies. He was well known in the service as a very competent runner. He has the classic long distance runner physique, tall and wiry. His navy colleagues challenged him to a run from London to Portsmouth, some 116km away. Large amounts of money were wagered between the sailor on the feat. Mensen ran the distance in 9 hours. A great time even by todays standards. Soon after he ran the 241km between London and Liverpool in 32 hours. Though he was undoubtedly a talented runner, he continued working as a sailor until the age of 32 after the battle of Navarino of the Greek war of independence. The term 'ultramarathon' didn't exist back then. Long distance travel by foot was called pedestrianism. With the introduction of travel by horse in Europe in the 18th century, running and walking became a sport and something to gamble on, much like todays horse racing. It was a form of entrainment that both upper class and lower class would marvel at. In the early days when Mensen ran pedestrianism was based on challenges and was open to interpretation. People placed bets on whether a runner could run a distance in a certain time. In Mensens case, he usually succeeded. Athletes were often paid for their exploits, sometimes richly. Unlike ultramarathon today pedestrianism was based on cross country travel, often from point to point and in Mensens case often without support. This meant that it wasn't just running


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

ability that was tested. Participants needed to be able to navigate and on longer runs secure food, water and accommodation. It was also important to be able to think on your feet. Europe wasn't as safe as it is today, regional wars were blazing and bandits were numerous on transport routes and border crossings weren't always easy. Mensen could speak five languages on top of his native Norwegian and was by all reports an enterprising and clever young man. The feat that Ernst is most well known for and which heightened his career is his run from Paris to Moscow in June 1832. A huge 100,000 francs were wagered on his attempt. Ernst was challenged by Count Gustaf LĂśwenheim, the Swedish/ Norwegian consult i Paris at the time. Ernst was to receive 3,800 francs if he made the distance in under 15 days. The 2500km route followed Napoleons route closely which made the feat all the more interesting for the public. Mensen made it to Red Square in just under 14 days. That's an amazing 200km a day. It took him several hours to find the commander as he arrived at the square day early, as he was dressed in rags he was mistaken for a beggar! After this feat he toured Europe as a kind of circus act. His diet is not what you'd expect of a man of the era but was actually quite enlightened, except for the large quantities of wine he reportedly drank, even while on his runs. Ernst ate only cold food and hardly ever ate meat. He lived on cheese, bread and fruit. While he was running he reportedly ate one biscuit and drank one ounce of raspberry syrup every 24 hours, resting only 10-15 minutes every day leant against a tree. Even when he wasn't running he slept only 4 hours a day, preferring to sleep outdoors on a hard surface. In 1833 he made a dramatic journey from Munich to Nafplion and onwards through Greece to deliver documents to Otto I of Greece. He was robbed of everything he had at sword point except the important document. His money, maps and sextant were in the hands of the thieves. He managed to resupply when he came into civilization again but was soon after jailed for three days on suspicion of espionage. On another occasion he was paid 250 pounds to run from what is now called Istanbul to Calcutta. It took him four gruelling weeks to reach the Indian post, crossing rivers, deserts and mountain ranges along the way. He ran through Anatolia, Persia, Afganistan and India. After arriving he rested for three days

Mensen Ernest with his sextant.

�Running and walking became something to gamble on.� before running back home. He covered an incredibile 8 900km in 59 days. Mensen was often employed as a courier by Kings and Queens over Europe, paying him both for the delivery service and for the entertainment value of the long distance running. His notoriety as a personable, unstoppable runner fueled his career and helped him make contacts that someone from his background could never otherwise have made. Maybe a way to make ultramarathon

running a career in todays society? Mensens tragic last trip was in 1843 and would stretch from Moscow to the source of the Nile. Many explorers had tried to reach the source of the Nile without success. He ran through Jerusalem to Cairo and ran 1000km of the Nile before perishing from Cholera near the border between Egypt and Sudan. He was buried on the spot a few days later. This spot is now underwater because of the Aswan Dam. It took two or three years for news of his death to reach his friends and family in Europe. Just how much of the story of Mensen Ernst is true is hard to say. He had a lot to gain by coming across as supernatural. It's possible that some facts became embellished along the way, perhaps by the public, perhaps by himself. Though one thing is undoubtable, Ernst was one hell of a long distance runner. // Nordic Ultra #4 2012


Most of the Nordic heavy hitters were there.

Bislett Indo Gjermund after breaking the Nordic 12h record at Ringerike Ultrafestival.


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

Bjørn Tore Taranger chasing down Lars Dørum.

oor 24 hour Anne Britt Bringedal giving Ragnhild Audestad some support.

The winners of the mens category.

Nordic Ultra #4 2012


An emotional Maria Jansson is flanked by Laila Öjefelt och Tarja Antell.

The lowdown... TEXT: Andrew Tutt-Wixner PHOTOS:

Olav Engen

This years Bislett 24 hour was as popular as ever and boasted some surprising results. Some runners ran their life’s race while some class runners left disappointed and empty handed. One such runner was favorite tipped Jari Tomppo who started out strong but was compelled to drop out after 22 hours. He explained his DNF, ”the support was perfect but the runner was weak”. Still, 200km after 22 hours is still a mighty result and was good enough for 6th place. Torill Fonn Hartikainen is another top runner that it didn’t work out for she dropped off the radar after 16 hours. Gjermund Sørstad was also way off his normal pace. Top female runner Anna Grundahl failed to start, I think she would have stirred things up on the ladies side. Despite all the talent that Norway has to offer they were even this year unable to clinch the mens gold. Bjørn Tore Taranger and Lars Dørum were in great shape but British Steve Holyoak managed to hold them back for the win. The womens class was dominated by Borlänge born runners. Maria Jansson led the race the whole time apart from the first 8 hours when Kajsa Berg ran her lightning fast 100km (the second quickest Swedish time ever). Laila Öjefelt came second after coming up from behind. She ran a tactically perfect race, she was last place after 8 hours and climbed steadily through the night. At the 20 hour point she had caught up to finnish second placer Tarja Antell and soon blew past. Tarja who had been in second place for much of the race didn’t have the energy to match Laila and dropped down to third.//


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

Bislett results 1 Holyoak Steve


2 Taranger Bjørn Tore K Fik BFG Fana, 3 Dørum Lars


GBR 226 734 NOR 225 597 NOR 219 599

4 Heskestad Per Audun FIL AKS,

NOR 211 534

5 Tubaas Peter

ABB - Stord IL,

NOR 207 525

6 Tomppo Jari


FIN 200 918

7 Ramström Jan-Erik

Stockholm LDK,

SWE 197 145

8 Bringedal Jard

Koll IL,

NOR 193 253

9 Brinck Robert

Västerås LK,

SWE 187 589

10 Nicklaus Ulrich


GER 181 286

1 Jansson Maria

Team UltraSweden LK,

SWE 211 738

2 Öjefelt Laila

Borlänge Löparklubb,

SWE 202 613

3 Antell Tarja


FIN 192 414

4 Lundqvist Sandra

Team Ultrasweden LK,

SWE 180 716

5 Nilsson Barbro


SWE 180 061

6 Toivonen Mari


FIN 173 048

7 Johansen Hilde

Romerike Ultraløperklubb, NOR 168 801

8 De Geer Boel

Hultsfreds löparklubb,

SWE 162 363

9 Kvist Miranda

Team Ultrasweden,

SWE 148 635

10 Audestad Ragnhilld

Etatens utvalgte s.l

NOR 145 764

From heaven to Hell A 24hour debut in Bislett TEXT:

Miranda Kvist TRANSLATION: Andrew Tutt-Wixner

You should have respect for 24 hour races. I understand that. But not too much respect that I’d avoid such a challenge. The Miranda at the starting line at 10:00 on October 26 inside Bislett Stadium - ready to test her first 24-hour ultra - did not know what she had got herself into. ”But if others can, can’t I?” She reasoned. What a day she received. I was nervous and excited standing on the starting line. Motivated and trained, in the mood for a race. What would happen? How would it feel after 12 hours? How would it feel after 24 hours? Questions written in the stars so far, but not for long. The atmosphere was good among us runners and I saw many familiar faces. I felt a sense of calm. I was going to run longer than ever - I love running! What could go wrong? The first hour rolled past with relative ease. It was hot inside Bislett Stadium, on the 545-meter track the runners sweated like never before. I felt a little impatient. Wanted in on the game, wanted to challenge and force myself to suffer! We encouraged each other lap after lap, my legs worked as well as I’d hoped. However I felt the heat more than usual. I never suffer from the heat but I began to feel a brutal need for salt. Soon it will be difficult to eat but I tried to take in as much as possible. The tactic to run slowly for a few hours at a time and then eat a big meal with subsequent walking worked really well in the first half of the race. I was fascinated by how I could look so peaceful and harmonious on the countdown showing the number of hours left. Not even ”20 hours left” seemed overwhelming. I was a machine. I worked. I lapped. I enjoyed it. I was sweating. I smiled. I passed the 100km mark after about 11.5 hours and the (slightly cheeky) plan with a dream goal of 180km was within reach. I who never had run longer than 100km previously had put up an incredibly tough goal. But I have learnt that you can usually do so much more than you think - and would rather aim for the stars and end up among the trees than be left on the ground. But now I began to get tired. I walked up the small hill that every lap offered. Went and kicked at my poor friends who were asleep. ”Please help me, I need you”. I felt worn out. I ground on, lap after lap. Soon, I froze. Took on an extra sweater. Soon after overheated so I took off my shirt. I passed three marathons in a row and thought that I surely was the best ever ... For a while self-confidence and immortality reined. A short but fantastic while. But soon I began to feel really foggy. Almost sleepy. I had running for over 15 hours straight at that point. My friends said that I was the only one who never sat down. ”Come sit down”, they demanded. I sat down. Three seconds later I was lying with his head in a garbage bin as I threw up before my three favorite people. Not my finest hour as you can imagine. Chills. Tears. Destroyed. I couldn’t eat. I walked a few meters before I fell apart at the side of the track. Disappearing. I woke up with a whole bunch of people around me. What’s going on?! I was lifted off to the mattress. ”How are you Miranda?”. Shit. I feel lousy. Like the worst stomach bug you can imagine, and with three consecutive marathons under my belt. It felt like every part of my body was on strike. My head spun as I closed my eyes. They forced me to eat salt tablets and let me sleep. I was woken

from a dim after an hour. ”Do you want to continue?” Never. I fell asleep and disappeared from the competition. Within a few minutes I lost my footing in the competition. From heaven to hell. The hours pass and I sleep very poorly on the mattress. My body felt fragile. Several hours later I woke up and looked around me. Where am I? That’s right! Bislett. Is the race still going? The time is 06:40. I asked my legs what they want to do, they’re ready! I roll laboriously of the mattress and stand up. I ask my friend Mia what I look like? ”pretty” answers my wonderful friend, but I suspect a white lie. I take a few running steps, they went well. I can! I came out onto the track again. I don’t really understand how long I’ve been away but most of the runners on the track seem surprised to see me. I explain that ”I kinda collapsed”. As if it’s quite natural. I know that I have been gone for 5 hours. Walking and running alternately, I’d woken up. I got my legs rolling, picked off a few more kilometers and seeked my revenge. I had collapsed at 127km. Now I was approaching 140km, making steady progress. I tried increasing my pace. I can! I suddenly start flying, passing runners who have been running all night while we have ”cheated” with the sleep/ collapse coma. My speed was good for the last hour. I fly ahead. Can I at least get close to 150km? I struggle and toil. It hurts. My body has been through a lot and my feet are hurting. I’d rather stay and lie down again but I keep going. I was starting to get somewhere. It seems absurd that this long race was finally nearing an end. It felt like this day was never going to end. The minutes start ticking down and the fans begin waving at the side of the track. Applause, lap after lap after lap. Even more applause. The runners are fighting for every single meter. How far can we push ourselves? I bit down and hit marathon speed. It’s great fun! But my knees don’t think so. So begins the countdown and we are forging ahead. Seconds passed and my friends Mia and Thomas come running towards me approximately when the final whistle sounds. They laugh and smile at my progress! I stop and drop down on all fours. I did it! What a crazy day. I made it 148.63 km. On my first 24h. From heaven to hell and back again? Yep. So this is how it feels. Running a 24 hour race. Running, collapse and vomit in a crazy combination. Salt deficiency was diagnosed. Like many of the other runners the heat took its toll on me. But I’m now an experience richer. Would I do it again? The answer is that I want nothing more! I may have a newfound respect for 24-hour races, but I learned that I can do it. The most important lesson was self-confidence. A strong head takes strong strides. The race didn’t go quite as planned. But I wouldn’t swap this experience for anything. The community, the running and the atmosphere inside the Bislett Stadium clearly overweighed both the collapse and the failure to reach my goal. I made it, after all almost 150km which isn’t bad at all. Two years ago I ran 30km consecutive days at the most. Now, I’ve run three marathons in a row (plus some more). We can conclude that boundaries are there to be crushed. Believe me. I will reach my 180km and fulfill my dream. I’ve only just begun.// Nordic Ultra #4 2012


Gjermund after breaking the Nordic 12h record at Ringerike Ultrafestival.

TEXT: Andrew Tutt-Wixner

& Gjermund PHOTOS: Olav Engen

Gjermunds running career really took off in 2011. He has gone from being a kid that could hardly excercise att all to a world class ultra-athlete. He attributes part of his sucess to treadmill running.

H For those that haven’t heard of you. Who is Gjermund Sørstad? I`m a 32 year old from a little place about 30 km from Oslo called Lier. I am educated as a Child Welfare worker, and now I`m working as a consultant. I also work a little bit as a freelance journalist. I`m married and have two boys, five and three years old. We adopted our kids from India in and we came home with them in march this year. H At what age did you start running? How did you get into ultra? I started running when I was 16, on my own because I wanted to get in better shape. I had quite an active childhood with ski jumping in the winter and football in the summer. In the winter I loved to make my own hills after school and jump with crosscountry skis. I hated to hiking and I didn’t like to run. When I was 13 years old I had migraine problems. I was medicated with beta-blockers which normally are used for people with high blood pressure. I got very low resting heart rate from the medicine. When I trained it didn’t rise, so it was very difficult for me to partake in endurance sports activities. When I was 16 I got a new medicine which made it much easier for me to run. That year I finished my first competition, a half marathon in 1.35. Two years later I started to train with a local track and field club, and when I was 20 I ran half-marathon in 1.14.


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

After that I ran a little better for each year until I was 23. I started to work nightshifts and I also was working daytime. I also studied at that time which was too much. I trained almost as before but the results weren’t good. In 2004 I ran my first ultra. The WC 100 k in Winschoten. At that time it was possible to qualify for the national team based on your personal best time in marathon. That world cup was not a success for me, I dropped off after 60 k. Later that year I ran 100 k in Bergen and I finished in 8.27. At that time I had started to train on the indoor rowing machine concept2. I progressed very fast in indoor rowing and I broke the unofficial world record on marathon in the lightweight class (Under 75kg) and twice became Norwegian Champion over the 2000 meter distance. In 2006 I decided to make a new attempt to be a better runner. From 2007 the focus has been ultra-running. H You’ve had a spectacular season. What do you attribute that to? Keywords are patience and discipline in my years of endurance training and three years of training with focus on ultrarunning. I’ve held quite high training volume (for me) for a two year period without being injured. The winter of 2011 was a very good training period for me with 40-50 km on my treadmill both Saturday and Sunday almost every week. Some weeks I ran over 200 km, thats a high training

minutes with:

Gjermund Sørstad

volume for me. The last three years about 80% of my training has been on a treadmill, and it has worked out very well for me. I like treadmill running and I think the treadmill has made me a better runner. I have been bake to get more and more control over my muscle cramps. That has been a big problem for me in the past. H What happened at Bislett, you started off well but dropped off? Bislett came only three weeks after I broke the Norwegian 6 hour record. I felt good in my legs and my body felt generally good but I knew that I was not fully recovered mentally. The air in Bislett was not great and it was a little too warm. The air was better after 6-7 hours when the radiators were turned off, but because of these conditions I had to start work mentally quite early in the race and I got a headache early on. After 12 hours I felt pain in my left leg. I got some treatment and started to run again, it felt better but the pain was still there. I tried to run for an hour, but my leg was still not great and then it was a easy decision to pull the pin. After the 6 hour race on Undheim I was pleased with my season and I had already qualified for the 24 hours WC next year, so I had no pressure to perform at Bislett. I didn’t want to risk being out of running for a month or two just for the sake of an average result at Bislett.

H What is your favorite distance? I have no favourite distance in particular. Maybe the 6 hour race or the 100 k could be a favourite in the future. H What is your favorite training pass? At the summer it must be running trail and just forget about the time, finding new paths and run like I feel like. In the winter it is running on treadmill, first a 6-7 km warm up. Then change to lightweight shoes and run 15-20 km in marathon speed and watching winter sports on t.v Well, I have trained quite well since the summer of 2009 without any injuries. Especially the winter 2011 was good. Some weeks I ran more than 200 km. The average was about 180 in many weeks, and saturday and sunday I often ran 40-50 km each day on treadmill. In march and april I didn’t have one training run over 20 km. We adopted our children from India in march and then I had to train very differently for a period of time. I had to split up and often I ran two times each day with 2X10 km or 2x15. After three months it was possible to do some long training runs and it worked out well. The last three years about 80 % of my training has been on treadmill. I like running on treadmill and now, with two children I often must train indoor on my treadmill in the basement. It suits me, and normally I don`t miss running more outdoors.// Nordic Ultra #4 2012


CLUBS Send an email to if you want your club to be involved

Romerike Ultra Running Club

”The longer we run the happier we are” TEXT:

Andrew Tutt-Wixner

Greater Oslos relatively new Romerike Ultralöperklubb is Norways first running club specifically for ultrarunners. The club was founded in 2009 by Olav Engen partly to help in the organisation of Kristins Runde as well as to serve the ultra public.


lub founder and president Olav Engen explains, “Our primary goal is to give our members the best opportunity to practice ultra marathon running. We also aim to contribute to the ultra community with interesting races”. This is a statement that is in line with their actions as a running club. The story behind the name is simple. The Norwegian athletics association informed the interested group that they had two requirements for club names. The first was that it needed to contain geographical information about the club is located. Romerike is an area outside of Oslo. The second requirement was that the name needed to say something about which sport the club represented. Ultrarunning club (Ultralöperklubb) was the obvious choice there. The club was started above all for clubless long distance runners or runners that weren’t active members in their previous club. Romerike doesn’t want to ‘steal’ resources from other clubs. Doing so doesn’t help the sport. They don’t recruit members either but stress that everyone is welcome, both amature runners and those that are more ambitious. All of the current 35 members are active adult runners, all but one having completed an ultramarathon. Most of the members come from Oslo and the surrounding areas but there are also members in other parts of Norway as well as overseas members. Developing into a big club isn’t a priority for Romerike ULK. The clubs mission is to serve its members and the ultra community in the best way possible. Having a large number of members isn’t necessarily a means to this end. The club started almost three years ago with 15 starting members and has grown steadily over that time to 35 members. The club is likely to continue its growth over the next few years considering the ever growing popularity of ultramarathon running in the region. This winter they will be trialling indoor club training on tuesday nights at Bislett Stadium (home of Bislett 24 hour held in November). The club has access to the facilities there every day of the week but encourage members to train together on tuesday. Through Romerikes homepage, members can seek company on their long runs. This is a great way for members to both have control over their own training and to have company. For many, the social side of a club is just as important as the sport side. The club travels together to some events. TEC (Täby Extreme Challenge) is something of a club favourite which they travel to every year. In April 2012, a week after TEC and Ringerike Ultrafestival a club meeting will be held in Larvik. 12 months later in April 2013 a group of runners will be travelling to Scotland to partake in the Highland Fling. For the past two years they have held a club Christmas Buffé which is a great opportunity to


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

”This winter they will be trialling indoor winter training at Bislett Stadium.” get to know your clubmates in a non-running environment (even though there’s no doubt a whole load of running talk going on). For both good and bad, being part of a running club involves both contributing financially as well sometimes lending a helping hand. Being a member of Romerike ULK costs 300 NOK annually, which is pretty well in line with what they offer in return. They also have a good variety of good looking club clothing from Trimtex available at decent prices too. Like most sport clubs it is necessary to help out at events now and then though compared to a lot of other clubs Romerike doesn’t ask for much help. The club organises both Kristins Runde and Romerike 6 hour competitions. Kristins Runde is an annual 50 mile trail race that takes in the 5 highest peaks in Normarka. Surprisingly most of the runners are able to run the race. Only three or four club memebers are needed to help out on the day. A part of the reason that there is relatively little work involved is that there is a limit of 60 runners. The club doesn’t actually make a profit on this race, it’s put on purely for the sport. There’s something really noble about that. The Romerike 6 hour involves more work both before, during and after the event. One of the main reasons for this is the larger number of runners, they have a limit of 150. This event requires more help from members which is somtimes tough, as the majority of the members want to run the race. Though at the end of the day members benefit from the event. The money earnt from the event goes back into the club. According the Olav, the event will require less help in 2012 as they will be moving to an location which will be easier to manage, the new athletics stadium at Jessheim near Oslos airport. The club is often asked to take over other races in the area but at the time being it’s not possible without putting a higher workload on members. When membersip numbers reach 50 -100 then it may be possible to increase the amount of events they hold.//

More Information

Nordic Ultra #4 2012


nordic ultra winter challenge

130 kilometers in Orsa Finnmark

TEXT: Andrew Tutt-Wixner PHOTOS:

Petter Kättström

’What are you guys hunting’ we ask a pair of Norwegian hunters a couple of hours into our 130km run. ’Swedes’ answer one of them quickly. They don’t seen to believe us when we tell them of our plans.


f you look at it from the outside the situation does seem kinda weird. Five runners approach them 20km north west of Emådalen in the middle of Orsa Finnmark and say that they are running to Mora, which is 100km in the other direction. The 14th of January was the debut for Nordic Ultra Winter Challenge. 130km of adventure running in the wilderness of Dalarna. Me and two other runners, Anna Grundahl and Johan Fridlund drove up from Stockholm friday night. We met up with Krister Lind and Laila Öjefelt in Mora. After a briefing of the route, a strategy talk and distribution of X-Kross glasses it was time for bed. We got up 6 in the morning to get to the the start point in Emådalen. It was a 30km drive to the start point. Our support car driver Petter had put his hand up for the mission without me having to even ask. I’m going to have to take care of this guy. I wanted the event to be something different. I wanted it to be tough; at least 100km and I didn’t want to resort to doing laps of a small circuit. So either A to B or A to A. The third point was that it had to be inspiring scenery. Oh yeah and since I’m organising it no one can get hit by a car or freeze in a ditch, that pretty much ruled out a competition. The circuit I chose first looked awesome. I started and finished in Mora and included much of the scenery that we were treated to, unfortunately one of the roads wasn’t ploughed, there was knee high snow for 17km. That got ruled out... We had agreed on 25 minutes of running followed by 5 minutes of walking from the start. While walking we had the opportunity

Laila Öjefelt helping Krister 24 along. Nordic Ultra #4 2012

to take mat and drink from the service car. Pleasant company, great views and flat roads helped the first couple of hours fly along. After 30km Krister started having problems, his body just wasn’t cooperating. He quit just after the days longest hill (3km) and just after the marathon distance was passed. According to his GPS there was 300 meters of climbing in the section that he ran. During the next 70 km the road was hilly and beautiful. It was tough running, especially with the headwind but it was mentally stimulating. There were many mountains, swamps, lakes and every now and then a capercaillie (tjäder). When darkness set in we turned off the large road onto a smaller, hillier road. The first hill looked mean, there was quite a lot of fresh snow and it followed a sharp ridge. Luckily this climb coincided with the walk break. We caught glimpes of Älvdalens lights long before we were there. Laila was the next to leave the group. She had a strange knee pain and didn’t want to risk anything. After 90km I was having a hard time keeping up. My body was in pretty good shape but I was having problems with my energy. I was freezing, even with two pairs of pants and two hats on. When I made it to 100km I had become really slow. I said to Anna and Johan that I was going to jump in the car. They convinced me to keep going for a while longer but my energy levels were only getting worse. I’m sure that I could have made it to Mora but the last 25km would have taken a long time. Anna and Johan put the pedal to the metal and finished strong. It was awesome to see two strong runners running together with the same goal, just making it to the finish. It’s not often get get that sort of feeling at a race as there are almost always competitive undertones. After 16 hours and 15 minutes they stood proudly at the Vasaloppet finish line. Good job! I really enoyed running this course. It has to be one of the best days running I’ve ever had. Having said that being an organiser and participating in the event is hard work. Next time has to be easier. This was the first time that I had organised an event and my first time running longer than 90km. I feel fortunate to have run with such experienced runners. I learnt a whole lot.//

Petter and the support car. I learnt to love the back side of that car. Laila Ă–jefelt, Anna Grundahl and Johan Fridlund.

Run to the hills. Nordic Ultra #4 2012


Pizza delivery!

Johan Fridlund playing catch-up. The warm water was popular the whole day.


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

We ran past Siberia :)

Rockhopping in eastern Finland.

Laila Ă–jefelt having a good time.

Corners were a refreshing change.

A focused Andreas Falk. GAX Trans Scania 2010.

Photo: Zingo Andersson

Nordic Ultra #4 2012



Send an email to if you have a question.

Stretching, Stiffness and TEXT & PHOTOS:

Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe

Stretching can often be a controversial subject. Some people treat it as a cure-all for virtually any problem. Others regard stretching for running as a waste of time. Some experts advise stretching as part of a warm-up, while others warn of the dangers of stretching prior to running.


cientific studies of stretching for running have produced wildly different, even totally contradictory conclusions, some demonstrating that stretching increased running performance and decreased injury rates, while others indicated that stretching worsened performance and increased the risk of injury. In 2004, a meta-analysis of 361 research papers spanning 36 years of scientific study into the effects of stretching on the risk of sporting injuries concluded that “There is not sufficient evidence to endorse or discontinue routine stretching before or after exercise to prevent injury among competitive or recreational athletes.” Why so much confusion? How should an ultra-runner approach stretching? Should it be included in everyday training or avoided at all costs? I am not going to attempt to analyse what is now over 40 years of research in the space of one article. I’ll just sum all this up by stating that there is no real scientific consensus on the subject and that in the absence of firmly conclusive scientific research one largely has to draw on anecdotal, personal and professional evidence and experience. Naturally here too there are many different opinions, and all I can really do is state my own. I feel that much of the confusion about stretching, both among athletes and in some scientific research, is due to all too often treating “stretching” as though it is one single thing, when really “stretching” is a term that can indicate many different things at different times. “Stretching” may refer to a fairly large range of physical practices performed under varying conditions and with a range of differing intensities, different goals, different levels of experience or pre-existing flexibility, and at different times in relation to other exercise. Given that this is the case it is then perhaps less surprising that studies show different results when they look at the effects of “stretching”. There are many reasons why stretching can be a difficult subject at times. These include unclear use of stretching terminology; the difference between stretching for “improvement” and “maintenance”; and understanding both the effects and sideeffects of stretching. One of the first things an athlete should realise is that there are several different types of “stretching” but that there is no


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

universally accepted standard terminology used to describe differing stretching methods. Stretching has been employed in many (if not all) cultures and in numerous disciplines at one time or another, and often each uses terms differently. Stretching methods and different terms to describe stretching thus exist in e.g. dance, yoga, gymnastics, sports/athletics, martial arts (etc). Broadly speaking there are several terms that are currently very widely used to describe different stretching methods. These are usually easy to define at the extremes but have a habit of blurring into one another on some occasions, and many people divide stretching types into various sub-categories. For this article we will just look at a simple way of dividing stretching into two main types – Static Stretching and Dynamic Stretching. There are numerous other types of stretch, but I will avoid further definition here as most of these can be viewed as being specific sub-types of either Static or Dynamic stretching. Static (or “Passive”) Stretching generally indicates that the chosen area is held in a stretched position and does not move (other than that e.g. in some methods additional pointof-tension isometric contraction may be employed during the stretch). That may sound a bit technical, so for a simple example, this means things like touching your toes and holding this for a count of 10; another example would be going into a “splits” position and holding this for as long as possible – the point being that the person assumes a position and holds this without further movement, the static position itself causing a “stretch”. Dynamic (or “Active”) Stretching generally indicates the area is stretched through a process involving movement; typically the movement is used to either produce or aid in the stretch. As the area is in some way being moved, it is not held in a fixed position and typically the motion is repeated. Often (but by no means always) the movement may involve using momentum to produce a stretch – as a simple example, swinging your leg backwards and forwards like a pendulum, possibly increasing height (and thus stretch) during a set of repetitions; another example would be a fencer moving in and out of an extended “lunge” position. Controlled, deliberate repetition of the stretching motion is generally key to effective dynamic stretching. OK, so there are basically two ways of stretching. That might be interesting, but basically they do exactly the same thing, right? Well, actually no, they don’t. To keep things at a simple level, Static Stretching tends to primarily increase Static Flexibility and Dynamic Stretching tends to mainly increase Dynamic Flexibility. In practical terms, it is possible to have more of one without the other. If you want to test this, warm up and

Ultra-distance Running then see how high you can swing your leg in the air while keeping it straight. Now ask a friend to slowly lift your leg in the air and see if you can get it to the same height and (with assistance) hold it there while keeping it straight. In most cases people can (dynamically) swing their leg higher than they can hold their leg (statically) with this particular range of motion. If a person aims to e.g. sit in a lotus position while meditating or hold a side-splits position while balanced on some chairs, then they really need to work on their static flexibility. If on the other hand they want to kick a person in the head or drop in and out of a low lunging position quickly, then they need to develop their Dynamic Flexibility. A person with high levels of dynamic flexibility may not be able to stretch as far into the same position and hold this as a Static stretch; conversely a person might be able to e.g. achieve a splits as a slow, static stretch yet may be unable to “drop” into the position swiftly. That said, over time and regular practice static stretching tends to improve dynamic stretching ability and (to a lesser extent) vice versa. Now at this point, ask yourself which is more useful to a runner – Dynamic Flexibility or Static Flexibility? The simple answer is obviously Dynamic Flexibility. Running is a dynamic form of exercise, and no runner ever won a race by holding a static position. Does this then mean Static Stretching is useless for runners? No, Static Stretching can still be very useful for several reasons, but Dynamic flexibility is more “directly” useful whereas Static flexibility is “indirectly” useful for a runner. We will return to these points a little later. Let’s now look at another question. Assuming a person is going to stretch, when is the best time to do this? Before running? After running? At another time altogether? The short answer is “It depends”. It depends on several factors – which include whether one means Dynamic Stretching or Static Stretching; why the person is stretching, and whether one is trying to improve or just maintain flexibility. Keeping this at a simple level, what do you do before running? Hopefully the answer will be “warm up” (everyone should warm up in some way before running!). A warm-up might be an exercise routine to raise core body temperature and then activate the specific muscles used in the chosen activity, or it might simply be starting off at low intensity and then gradually increasing this (e.g. doing some walking then slow jogging before breaking into

”Static Stretching can directly increase your Static Flexibility.”

a run). Either way, the idea behind a warm-up is implicit in the term – to warm up your body prior to more demanding exercise. Now ask yourself this question – which are likely to be better while warming up prior to a run, Dynamic stretches - moving your body to create a stretch effect? Or Static stretches - holding a position and staying still for a while? No prizes for guessing that Dynamic Stretching is (with a few specific exceptions) the best bet prior to other exercise; it can aid in the warming-up process whereas Static Stretching is unlikely to increase your muscle temperature and may even decrease it due to relative inactivity. Looking at the other end of things, what about after running? Hopefully you do some sort of a cool-down/warm-down rather than just suddenly stopping (even if this just means slowing to a walk and then heading back to your car). If you are going to do some post-run stretching, would Dynamic or Static stretches be better? Actually either are fine. As long as the Dynamic stretches are fairly gentle and don’t actually raise your body temperature further, Dynamic stretching is fine during a warm-down. Static stretching is also good at this point; your body is already well warmed-up and as long as you don’t allow your body temperature to drop too quickly Static stretches work very well after exercise. So is the choice of Dynamic or Static stretching just about body temperature? No, definitely not. As long as the stretches chosen are applicable to the exercise, Dynamic stretches directly prepare the body for the work it is about to do. Static stretches don’t work quite as directly. However there are also other considerations. Dynamic Stretching prior to running can help to maintain or increase your flexibility without reducing “stiffness” of the limbs while running, whereas Static Stretching can reduce limb “stiffness”. Now if at this point you are scratching your head and thinking “What do you mean you can increase flexibility without decreasing stiffness?” or if you are wondering what “flexibility” and “stiffness” actually mean and whether they are good or bad things for a runner, please bear with me as we’ll get to that shortly. For now I’ll express this a little differently. Static stretching can increase your flexibility. In particular, while it can have an indirect effect of aiding your Dynamic Flexibility, Static Stretching can directly increase your Static Flexibility. However, Static Stretching tends to (temporarily, not permanently) weaken the stretched muscle. This is absolutely fine if you are either just doing a stretching session which won’t be followed by other exercise, or if you are stretching after exercise e.g. when you have finished your run and are cooling down prior to a rest. Static Stretching can help to reduce tension in the muscles, elongate the muscle fibres, improve the elasticity Nordic Ultra #4 2012


of the limbs, aid in recovery and maintain/improve flexibility. However, normally immediately after performing a Static stretch, the muscle is weakened due to the static stretching process – it cannot contract with the same intensity until it has recovered from being stretched. This is not much help to a runner prior to a run. It can also add an increased injury risk i.e. by then making high demands on a now temporarily weakened muscle.

the leg e.g. as part of the landing & take-off phase of running and having a permanently stiff leg. It is important to separate semantics from bio-mechanics to understand this better, but first let’s look at another “myth”. “Higher flexibility has a negative effect on plyometric ability - The legs are supposed to be stiff during impact and takeoff during running so therefore increased flexibility retards plyometric ability”

On the other hand, Dynamic Stretching can directly improve your Dynamic Flexibility, and this is more useful to a runner about to run. In addition, Dynamic Stretching does not usually weaken the muscle, still allowing the muscle fibres to contract with their usual intensity - which means that one can then run without adding to injury risks. Indeed, because the muscles and tendons etc have been stretched (i.e. their flexibility has increased, extending their active range of motion) injury risks may be decreased (e.g. there is less risk of tearing a muscle or damaging a tendon etc). This is one of the reasons why the numerous scientific studies on how stretching effects runners have lead to wildly different conclusions – the type of stretches performed, and when these types of stretches are performed, can have a major effect on both performance and injury risks. It is not just a question of “do you stretch?” but also “how do you stretch?” and “when do you stretch?”. I mentioned that Dynamic Stretching can increase flexibility, especially what may be called “active flexibility” which is more important in running than “static” or “passive” flexibility, and that it can do this without decreasing “stiffness”. Here I am using the term “stiffness” in a somewhat technical sense, and this needs to be clarified because “stiff” is a term that can mean different things to different people, which often leads to a lot of misunderstanding among runners. To introduce the concept of “stiffness” let’s look at a couple popular “myths”. “Greater flexibility makes muscles, tendons (etc) weaker and therefore more prone to accidental collapse around the area of the joint” (or as a simple example : “flexible ankles = weaker ankles”) Is this actually true? Well, as I have said, Static Stretching can temporarily weaken muscles and this is rarely good prior to demanding exercise. But let’s look at two fairly well known activities that both require pretty high levels of flexibility – ballet and karate. Ballet dancers and martial artists tend to have well above average flexibility, certainly far more flexibility than is required by ultra-runners. Most students of ballet and karate spend a fair amount of time stretching. Among more advanced practitioners it would be common to be able to perform front and side-splits. Many foot positions and movements in dance and martial arts require a high level of ankle flexibility both in terms of rotation and movement in various planes of motion. It is normal for a ballerina to leap in the air and land with full bodyweight, from considerable height, on one leg. It is common for a karateka to kick through thick wooden boards. It is not normal for a ballerina or a karateka’s ankles or knees (etc) to “collapse” despite their high level of flexibility or the fact that the impact with which their limb makes contact with the floor or a board is far greater than the impact on the ankle or knee during running. This is because while a ballerina or a karateka may have high flexibility, they also have the ability to stiffen a limb when required.

Naturally plyometric ability has an important role in running efficiency. A high level of plyometric ability can for example increase a person’s stride length and/or speed, however realistically ultra-distance running is not a sport that ranks highly in its need for plyometric ability. Let’s consider what sports and activities really require a high level of plyometric ability; examples would include basketball, kickboxing, ballet, hurdling, high jump, long jump (and so on). Do these activities usually also require relatively high levels of flexibility? Yes - certainly a lot more flexibility than in ultrarunning. So how come these people with high levels of flexibility in their ankles, hips and legs can produce a huge amount of plyometric force (e.g. jumping very high in the air and landing safely)? In a nutshell because developing a high level of flexibility does not equate to loosing the ability to stiffen the legs on take-off or landing. The legs “stiffen” during the landing/take-off phase of running due mainly to involuntary (i.e. automatic, subconscious) contraction of the muscles (i.e. the brain causes this to happen without conscious thought). The brain can cause such contraction (i.e. “stiffening”) regardless of whether a person has a high or low level of flexibility. Being more flexible in key areas such as the spine, hips, hamstrings, ankles etc does not mean an automatic loss of ability to stiffen these areas when required, whereas being permanently stiff in key areas (i.e. having low flexibility) will reduce the active range of motion possible for a joint, limb or the body as a whole.

If ballet and karate seem a little esoteric and perhaps not particularly applicable to running, consider hurdlers. They too tend to perform a lot of stretching, have high levels of flexibility, land with far more impact than most other runners, and run a lot faster than anyone other than sprinters – increased flexibility has no adverse effect on their running ability, because they can still stiffen their limbs when necessary. Given these fairly easily observable facts, it should be pretty clear that it is perfectly possible to have high flexibility and yet retain the ability to stiffen a limb when needed (e.g. on impact). There is a considerable difference between having the ability to automatically “stiffen”


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This does however highlight a point that is often overlooked in some flexibility training – flexibility should be balanced by strength (and hopefully vice versa). An area that is very strong but inflexible can lead to eventual muscle imbalance and a decrease in the active range of motion. An area that is very flexible but relatively weak actually does risk an increase in strain or injury because the muscles may not be strong enough to resist movement within the high range of motion that is available. Ideally the body should be trained to become both strong and flexible – this is far better than the body being strong but inflexible, or weak but flexible (and a lot better than being both weak and inflexible). One of the main things that causes confusion here is the multiple meanings of the term “stiffness” in everyday usage. It would be quite common for a person to do some heavy exercise (e.g. a gruelling running session) and then the next day say “Wow, I feel really stiff today”. Here “stiff” basically means having “reduced flexibility or mobility”, in this case possibly accompanied by some soreness, discomfort or even pain. Part of such “stiffness” may be due to the discomfort of the after effects of the “controlled damage” to muscle fibres due to heavy exercise, but the literal “stiffness” may be caused by tension held in the worked muscle which may feel firmer than usual, perhaps even quite “hard” to the touch. A muscle in this state is typically less flexible than usual, which in part causes the “stiffness”. Stretching the affected muscle can reduce the muscle tension, restore flexibility and improve recovery rates, and this is one of many reasons why stretching can help runners considerably. However, this use of the term “stiffness” is quite different to the “stiffness” actually required for effective running. Another use of the term “stiff” is to refer to a general lack of flexibility. A person might try to do a simple stretch, be unable to stretch very far, and say “I’m really stiff”. Many people assume

this is due to a basic lack of elasticity in the muscles, or having tight tendons or short ligaments. While this can indeed be the case, often the real issue effecting flexibility is an inability to sufficiently co-ordinate the relaxation of the muscles involved in the stretch, resulting in potential flexibility effectively being “locked” due to unwanted tension. Whatever the cause(s) may be, this use of the term “stiffness” refers to having a low level of flexibility. Again, this is actually quite different from the kind of “stiffness” helpful in running. In running terms, “Stiffness” properly refers to the ability to (when required) swiftly contract a muscle / group of muscles, and “fire” the fibres within these muscles. The process of contracting the muscle and its component fibres “stiffens” the leg, which in turn allows plyometric force / “elastic energy” to be stored and subsequently released. Increased “stiffness” of this kind increases plyometric ability, thus allowing you to “take off” from the running surface more effectively and efficiently. If a person lacks the ability to effectively stiffen their leg during the landing and take-off phase of running, then their running ability will be impaired. They will almost certainly still be able to run, but not as efficiently as they could run with a stiffer leg. This observation however often leads to the erroneous conclusion that a lack of flexibility is desirable in order to improve running efficiency. To repeat an earlier point, there is a great deal of difference between having the ability to stiffen the leg when required and having a leg that is permanently stiff. While there is plenty of evidence that having a stiff limb during landing and take-off when running increases running efficiency, there is no evidence that having greater dynamic flexibility retards the ability to stiffen the leg when required (and a great deal of evidence that it does not); there is certainly no evidence that having low flexibility improves anyone’s running (and quite a lot of evidence that it can lead to some serious problems in the long term). Ideally a runner should have flexibility when they require flexibility and stiffness when they require stiffness. Too much of one and not enough of the other does not make for an ideal runner – and this cuts in both directions. Ideally a runner should aim to have both optimal flexibility and stiffness, as both are important during different phases of the sum total that is “running”. Basically “stiffness” during the landing and take-off phase of running equates to the ability to contract muscle fibres. In simple terms, the ability to contract muscle fibres can be described as “strength” (the more muscle fibres that can be contracted simultaneously, the “stronger” the muscle). It is a principle of the training methodology I employ that “flexibility and strength”, or if you like, “elasticity and stiffness”, should be developed alongside each other and in effective proportion to each other. Either too much or too little flexibility/elasticity or strength/stiffness leads to (at best) inefficiency and physical imbalance. Here we get on to a final point for this article – the difference between stretching to increase flexibility and stretching to maintain existing flexibility. Quite often many people are unaware of the difference and think that doing exactly the same thing every time will cause an improvement. At a basic level the difference between training for “improvement” and training for “maintenance” is common to most activities, including running, strength training and stretching. If a person regularly repeats an exercise, with the same intensity, same number of repetitions, same duration etc, then they will be

To sum up:

H If you are going to stretch before running, use Dynamic

Stretches and avoid Static Stretches. H After exercise Static Stretches are fine and this is a good time to do them. H If your muscles feel tight the day after exercise (or even if they don’t) do some easy stretching to help improve recovery. H Try and take the time once a week to do a stretching session that is separate from your running or other training e.g. on a recovery day. This is a great time to actually work on improving flexibility without risking it interfering with other training or rushing the session to get on with a run. H Even if you have no reason or desire to actually improve your flexibility, periodically monitor your active flexibility and always aim to maintain the flexibility you currently have!

maintaining an existing ability. This applies to running the same distance at the same speed, or lifting the same weight the same number of times, or stretching to the same point during each session. This is absolutely fine if a person’s goal is to maintain an existing ability. But maintenance training does not normally cause an improvement or increase. For improvement the body has to attempt to do something it cannot already do comfortably, the “overload” stimulus causing adaptation and increased ability. This might mean running faster, or for longer. Or lifting more weight, or the same weight for more repetitions. Or it may mean stretching further than one has stretched before or trying a different stretch. In the case of ultra-runners, many runners would benefit from making some improvements in their flexibility - but just about every ultra-runner would benefit from maintaining their current level of flexibility. If a person has less than optimal flexibility, then to reach an optimal level they have to improve their current flexibility – maintenance training alone would not be enough. If a person already has “enough” flexibility for both their sport and normal everyday activities, there may be no need to “improve” this - but there is every reason to maintain it. One thing that is frequently overlooked by runners is that while ultra-distance doesn’t require an especially high level of flexibility, it is almost always easier to perform any activity well within ones maximum range of motion rather than attempting to perform an activity at the upper-end of ones range of motion (so in this respect, a slight increase in flexibility can often make some aspects of running more efficient and “easier”). Another frequently overlooked consideration is that running, especially ultra-distance running, tends to decrease flexibility unless measures are taken to prevent this. Ultra-running involves hundreds of thousands of repetitions with a fairly small range of motion. This tends to cause a tightening of the heavily worked areas of the musculature which in the long term can lead to a serious loss of flexibility. You don’t actually need to be able to perform the splits to be a good ultra-runner, but if you start to have trouble bending down to tie your shoe laces you are well below an “average” level of flexibility for an untrained person and it would be a very good idea to correct this – or better yet, stop it happening by doing some maintenance stretching regularly. As the saying goes “prevention is better than a cure”. //

About the Author: Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe is an endurance, strength & conditioning coach and an expert martial arts instructor. Since 2004 he has been William Sichel’s training advisor, during which time William has set 54 national and international ultradistance records, including World Age Group records at 12hrs, 6-days, 1000km and 1000 miles. In 2008, Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe & William Sichel formed which specialises in providing on-line personal training, individualised training programmes, advice and support for endurance athletes worldwide. Contact: website :

Nordic Ultra #4 2012


Kilian Jornet: The best mountain runner in the world. TEXT:

Andrew Tutt-Wixner PHOTOS: Kilian Jornet

Kilian Jornet has in his early 20s achieved more that most ultrarunners do in their lifetime. In 2011 Kilian won both UTMB and Western States. The two psuedo 100 mile championship races. He has to be a favourite for ultrarunner of the year. H You take on tuff side projects such as running the Pyrenees

and setting the record for Kilimanjaro. What inspires you to take on these challenges? I want to show that my passion for the mountains is more than just about the races. I want to explore all these mountains as well as the different cultures and to pass that on. I try to find places I’m interested in from a cultural perspective, for the history or for other specific cultural aspects.

and I can imagine my life without it. As you told it’s no coincidence that I practice these mountain sports, because as a child I lived with my parents and sister in the Cap del Rec mountain hut in the Lles de Cerdanya cross-country ski resort in the Catalan Pyrenees. That’s where my sister and I started skiing and mountaineering. Before we could even walk we had already covered our first kilometres on skis! Up there, sport was the only entertainment my sister and I had. 

H You are very young compared to many ultramarathon run-

H If you could only run one more session in your life where

ners. Do you think that your age is a disadvantage? Do you think you will get better as you get older? I think that the sport is changing. Years ago, Youngs runners tells him “Ultra running is for old persons, I don’t has the age” but don’t answer if they are ready. Now, in Europe and US, more and more Young atletes takes pleasure in ultra, and win races. I thinks Trail running permits to have together Adrenalin of downhills, pleasure of mouintain and the endurances port. And is one of single sport to all finishers are winners, because everybody has onedifferent objective.   H You’re obviously a favourite at many events. How does this pressure affect you? As I’ve won quite a few races, I could be considered a favourite. But personally, I don’t trust the status of favourite, because on the starting line we all have just our two legs and a heart. It’s always complicated. Lots of factors come into play. You train hard and you think you’ve reached the right level, but then during the races you have to be at your best to fight against the best. By winning this race, I’ve realised that I am at a level that could enable me to obtain other victories. 

H You’ve won UTMB several times and Western States this year as well as many other considerable achievements. What’s left for you to win in the ultra world? A lot of races! I want to take part in a lot of races and enjoy the mountains!

H Do you think that would would make a good marathon run-

ner? I have never run a classic Marathon, Ist he most asked question I have! But I don’t like run on flat ground and I don’t like running on asphalt, I prefer training in mountains and having fun...

H The mountains are obviously an integral part of your life.

Do you think that would still be a runner if you didn’t have this background? I don’t Know. Since I was a child I have lived in the mountains


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would it take place? Every race and every trail has its special magic, it’s impossible for me to choose just one! That’s the beauty of the mountains. I’ve been lucky enough to experience so many great moments, to have so many wonderful memories, each one has its special place inside me.

H Can you give the readers a brief description about how you

train? I train every day, usually breaking the day into 2 sessions, a long one in the morning and an easy one in the afternoon. That adds up to about 25 to 35 hours a week, except for the weeks when there’s a race. Then I train a lot less, about 15 to 17 hours. In terms of kilometres, I don’t know because it all depends on the elevation gain and loss, as well as on the technical aspect of the terrain. Over a year, that must add up to about 1000 hours of which 500 on skis, 270000m elevation gain and loss, 450 hours running with 240000m elevation and 50 hours biking with 20000m elevation. H What is the most under rated race in Western Europe. It’s very hard to choose, I don’t have one favourite race, but a bunch of them. Zegama for the atmosphere, Giir di Mont for the race itself, Grigne or Kima for the technical aspect, Grand Raid Reunion for the combination of all those things… 

H You seem to travel to a lot of interesting countries to run,

what’s next on your list? Or where would you like to return to? At this time not fully defined, but I will run much more in the United States, I want to find and spend more time in this country. To run and to discover it. In Spain I’ll probably run Zegama and Transvulcania. But nothing is yet decided.

H What is your next challenge?

At this time I’m focusing on the skimountaineering season, and the objectives will be the World Cup, the European Championships, the grande course that englobes: Pierra Menta, Tour de Rutor, Mezzallama and Patroulle des Glaciers. //

Kilian winning WS100

Kilian racing in Spains world cup team.

Kilian is also a very accomplished skimountaineererer.

Nordic Ultra #4 2012



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Ice Bug Anima BUGrip TEXT: Andrew Tutt-Wixner PHOTO: Icebug

As I wrote in my editorial it has been a relatively ice free winter so far though I did manage to get in a decent 43km run is these shoes in both soft and compacted snow as well as of course ice. I’ll start with the good points, which were many. These shoes are lightweight. They only weigh 265grams (size 9) which is pretty amazing, it feels like more shoe that that. I was tempted to test their orienteering model which is even lighter


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but I was worried that they wouldn’t cut the mustard on longer runs. The shoe sat really well, I couldn’t fault the comfort at all. The tongue stayed in place and though it was thin I didn’t feel the laces at all. There were small mesh dots on the tongue, probably to save weight, smart idea. The material looks and feels like it’s good quality. It feels like they’re going to last a while, as long as the spikes hold out. One really stand out feature for the BUGrips were actually the laces. It’s such a simple thing but many companies just can’t seem to get it right. I usually double knot my laces and even then

they still open up. These didn’t even loosen after a marathon with sections of ankle high snow. It’s the small things that make a great shoe. You can’t talk about Ice Bugs without talking about grip. It really is second to none. The rubber has an agressive pattern that works great on snow and the spikes do a great job of sticking to the ice. I was running flat out on blank ice weaving trying to get them to show signs of weakness. There weren’t any. Speaking of the sole there was only an 8mm heel-toe drop. That’s great news for those of you looking for shoes that are a little more minimalist. Another great feature of this shoe is the built in toe protector. It’s bascially a hard band around the front of your toes. I’ve seen them before but they usually are made of rubber, which means increased weight. In this case it is a layer of material that has been hardened. Ice Bug claim that they the shoe is water resistant and they

absolutely are. I had dry socks when I came in after my run, something I don’t have in my ordinary shoes. I loved the colour, bright green/ yellow is a great colour for a winter shoe. Now here are the bad points that I came across. I found the shoes annoying while running on patches of bare asphalt. They were very loud. I personally wouldn’t run with spiked shoes unless the road was almost completely covered. The shoe has a banana shaped sole profile which I didn’t like. There was nothing between my arch and the ground except for a thin layer of fabric. My overpronation was noticeable from the get go. I’d much rather had a straight sole to give the shoe some more lateral support. All things said, it’s a great shoe that I’d recommend to neutral runners. I’m still usning the shoes but only for shorter runs in the forest.// Nordic Ultra #4 2012



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After-press correction from x-kross: *the purpose of the double-glazed thermo lenses is to keep the glasses from fogging up in cold conditions.

X-Kross winter glasses TEXT: Andrew Tutt-Wixner PHOTOS:

Johan Stegfors

X-Kross are a multisport sunglass system. You buy the frame and lenses separately so you have different lenses for different conditions and/ or sport. They are fully adjustable for fit and conditions. They come with adjustable nose pieces, you get two pairs of rubber pads that you can manipulate to make the glasses fit properly. On top of that you get a foam pad that sits near your eyebrow, you can take it off if you’re wearing a beanie so the glasses sit better. It took me a couple of minutes to get them right then they sat pretty damn good. The thing that shocked me as first was the low weight. 36grams! That’s pretty mental for a pair of well built glasses. When I was running through southern Sweden before Nordic Ultra was around I got a call from the importer of X-Kross offering me a pair of glasses. I had a look at the website, I wasn’t sure if they were my thing. I don’t really like ’technical’ wear but I thought I’d might as well give them a go. X-Kross has to be the company that sponsors the most ultra runners in Sweden. Jonas Buud, Anna Grundahl, Emelie Andersson, Maria Thomsen, Camilla Ringström and Andreas Falk are all sponsored by them. I really loved my glasses. I wore them whenever I went running and it was sunny. They went with me everywhere until they fell off my hat on a long run in the forest. It wasn’t until I used a cheap pair of sunglasses to replace them that I realized how


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good X-Kross were. The cheap ones hopped around and sweat ran down the glass while my X-Kross were seemingly glued to my head and never so much as fogged up let alone beaded sweat. As the organizer of NUWC I wanted to give a prize to all the runners. Johan from X-Kross was happy to help out and sent out five pairs. We all received winter lenses. Everyone got a different color/ shade I got a tinted model with a mirror finish. They are a little different to the summer models, instead of vents and an wide space at the top to prevent fogging there are foam pads for insulation. It’s actually more useful than it sounds. The lenses cover quite a lot of your face compared to normal running glasses. I didn’t really like the look of them in the beginning but to be fair I didn’t like the look of any sportglasses, I want a pair of Raybans that I can run in. Having said that, during the year that i’ve been around their products they’ve really grown on me. The warming effect of the larger surface area combined with the insulation is really useful of cold/ windy days. I didn’t really have the appropriate model lens for the day. It was overcast for much of the day and the sun was at our back when it did come out so everything was a little dark with the glasses on. Anna Grundahl got a brighter pair of lenses, they didn’t leave her face until darkness set in. One thing even mine were really good for was getting relief from the wind. We had a headwind for 70km of the run, sometimes quite strong with snow blowing at us. So if you’re looking to invest in a pair of glasses for running check out these puppies. I haven’t heard or read a bad word about them.//

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William with his first place prize.

Looking fresh on his way to victory.

Running among roots 2010s Marathon of Dangers. 38 Nordic Ultra #4 in 2012

An unusual amount of media for an ultrar ace.

Monaco 8 day: No finish line TEXT:

William Sichel PHOTOS: Alan young (Dion_networks)

For continental ultra-ultra long distance afficiados No Finish Line is a well known race. It gives the runner a taste of Monacos glitz and glamour while doing your bit for charity. Participation wise it has to be one of the most popular ultras on the planet. This unique event was established, in a very small way, by the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Monaco in 1999. It was devised as a fund raising event involving the general public, as well as a couple of events for hard core ultra runners and is run every year in mid November. There has been some Scandinavian participation over the years and Norwegian Trond Sjavik won the 8 day race in 2010. Following successful outcomes in 1999 and 2000, the humanitarian association, ”Children & Future,” was founded in 2001, to organise and develop the event. The “No Finish Line” event has now grown into a mass participation fun run, spread over 8 days and raises thousand’s of Euros for charity. Concurrent with the charity runners and walkers, the event also hosts a team competition and individual 8 day and 24 hour races. The idea to span two weekends helps to boost participation in the fun run and enhances the amount of cash raised for the charities. For the charity runners the idea is simple - you run or walk the course around the port. You can put in an hour per day or run a marathon each day - it’s up to you! The course is open 24 hours a day for the duration of the event, so no excuses! Each participant wears an electronic chip (€12) to record the distance covered. For every kilometre run or walked, €1 is donated by the Principality to the nominated charities which include the Centre Cardio Thoracique de Monaco and Service de Cardiologie in Nouakchott Hospital in Mauritania. In 1999, 700 participants covered 9000 kms and raised €15,000. In 2011 there were 6800 participants who covered 223,664kms! These figures demonstrate how the event has grown over the years. Make no mistake this is a major event in Monaco, the second smallest country in the world, with a lot of media coverage and participants coming from all over the south of France and further afield. Princess Stephanie always started the event and Albert II Prince of Monaco and Charlene Princess of Monaco are present at the closing ceremony and present the prizes. Is this the only ultra distance running event with Royal patronage? //

Course H The road course has varied over the years but last year, it was a

1.373km lap around the new pier, right in the city centre and just metres from part of the grand prix course. It is a spectacular setting, especially at night, with the millionaire’s yachts tied up around the harbour and the surrounding hills of Monaco looking down on the course. Most of the surface is good quality tarmac bit there is a testing section of cobbles which become a real test in the later stages of the 8 day race. The course also has some real bottle necks, which become a real issue when the course is crowded. For the competitive runners, the course crowding and bottle necks, means that there are some hours each day when the event is very stressful. Last year between 1800 and 2100 hours seemed to be the ’rush hour’ each day but this period was hugely extended during both weekends. With the thousands of charity joggers and walkers, young children and dog walkers, great care must be taken in order not to be tripped. Of course, over night, the course is virtually deserted and good progress can be made.

Atmosphere H There is a fun, supportive atmosphere surrounding the whole

event with a really enthusiastic group, always wearing orange waistcoats, who organise and run the event from a tented village area on the pier.

Results H The only real weakness of the event, as far as the serious runners are concerned, is the erratic nature of the distance updates on the computer display. The delay in updating this vital information can be several hours!

Miscellaneous H Accommodation (portacabins) and meals for the 8 day runners

would best be described as ‘basic’ and most runners either bring their own supplies or make frequent visits to the nearby supermarkets. Some bring camper vans, whilst others camp out under the arches next to the course.

Current Course Records Individual Men’s 24h: 248.39km (Thomas Maguire 2009) Individual Women’s 24h: 222.201 km Monica Casiraghi 2007) Individual 8 Day Women’s total: 913.045km (Sarah Barnett 2011) Individual 8 Day Men’s totals: 1002.290km (William Sichel 2011) Team total: 6932 km (Coco Team 2006)

Nordic Ultra #4 2012



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WINTER MO TEXT & PHOTO: Andrew Tutt-Wixner

Winter is the time of year to build a base for competitions later on in the year. Unfortunately it is a time of the year where motivation to run can be a real problem for some runners. Here’s what our experts had to say. H Do you look forward to a break after

the main ultra season? (if you take a break that is)? T: I normally don’t take a break. From competing that is. I do a bit of easier training through November and December, but then again my training varies very little over the whole year, anyway. Less speed work these two months, otherwise it’s quite similar to the rest of the year. J: I’d like to take one to two weeks break from running after every long (24 h or longer) ultra, so I don’t usually have traditional “break-season” at the end of the year. Except when I’ve done some long race at the end of the year. Like this and last year, Bislett 24 h at the end of the November. I’m about to relax and take it easy at least couple of weeks and start proper training at the beginning of next year. P: I don’t take a break. That feels unnatural and unnecessary, as we have less training passes before and after every race. A: I always take a break after my seasons last race, I take it easy for about a month. This year my last race was Spartathlon and it was nice with some rest after that. I have my next race in february so the rest could not be so long.

H How does your training differ in the

winter? T: The difference in the winter will be an occasional session of “snöpulsning”. No other changes really. J: I wear more clothes and studded shoes when the roads are slippery because of ice Basically there isn’t much of a difference between my winter training and summer training. More than a season my training is related to my next race. P: My winter training is same as in summer, only temperature and surface differs. I wear more clothes, but use same shoes. A: Not much, i take it easy with hard running when it’s cold thats it.

H How can you use the winter season to make you a better runner? T: A tricky one. Don’t think about my


Nordic Ultra #4 2012

training that much. I guess the situations you might get into in order of difficult conditions may turn you into a tougher runner. J: By moving south. I can’t find any real way how running in the cold and icy roads could make someone better runner. Maby running in poor conditions may increase one’s ability to tolerate poor conditions on races. P: Continue running as usual! Don’t use winter as an excuse to run less. Training on a variety of surfaces, which is normal during winter in the Nordic countries, does you good. I don’t like snow, but running in heavy snow is great training. A: You can focus on your weaknesses, you have time to do things properly and let it take some time. You can also focus more on slower longer running.

H Do you have problems motivating

yourself when it’s months until your next race? If so how do you get over it? T: Motivation is normally not a problem. I haven’t had “months” between my races in many years as I have raced frequently for the last 7-8 years. Though I can see that it may be a problem. J: Sometimes yes, but not very often. When I’ve set myself a target I have a reason to go out and run. It is much more difficult for me to motivate myself out and running if I have no exact goal where to train. P: No. A: I have no problems with motivation. I always keep my mind on the next race. I try not to have to long time between my races. I put some shorter, not important races between my important races.

H It’s cold, raining sideways and you

have a run planned, what do you do? T: I run - or not. Both has happened. I’m not that devoted really. If i feel like running I don’t care about the weather. My mood is what guides me. J: If the roads are icy and I’ve planned to run faster pace then I run on treadmill, otherwise I put all my waterresisting,

Our experts Jari Tomppo (J): The flying Finn. A face that you’ll recognise from article about Kaustinen. Holds the nordic 48 hour record. Torill Fonn Hartikainen(T): The Swedish/ Norwegian dame is a stable performer that holds many records. Peter (P): Another Norwegian runner of great class. He won last years Täby Extreme Challenge. Andreas Falk (A): Has been pumping out good results for years and is Swedens only full time ultramarathon athlete. windproof and warm clothes on and go out running. P: Run. A: Run.

H What conditions would you absolutely

not go out running in? T: The only condition that has kept me from running is the cold. I’d rather not be out running if the temp goes below -15-20 degrees, depending on the wind. I like running in the winter. J: Hard to imagine. Maybe +40°C and direct sunlight, at least not very long run. P: Nothing that I have experienced so far. In Norway it normally does not get too warm, too cold, too wet or too slippery. But my favourite condition is 16 degrees and dry weather. A: Minus 60 degrees :-)

H What’s your opinion on treadmills?

This years Nordic Ultra Winter Challenge. With views like this motivation problems were few.


”Don’t use winter as an excuse to run less.” T: I have rather little experience on treadmills as I normally run outside. Up until now I have only used it when I’ve been away form home in places I don’t feel safe running on my own. Like when on business trip and such. I don’t really mind it, but I find it hard to run other than very slowly. I guess I need some practice... J: Excellent invention, I bought one last winter. Running on treadmill isn’t actually same as running on outdoors, but it’s quite close anyway and it helps to avoid injuries caused by running on ice. P: I hardly ever use them. One of the main reasons for my running is fresh air. A: Treadmills are sometimes the best option if it is to cold, to slippery, or some-

thing else. I do some of my speed training in the winter on treadmills.

H Do you travel to warmer climates to

run in the winter? T: No, I have never done that. Can’t afford it and don’t see why I should. J: No. I’ve done few holiday trips during winter times, but not very often and they aren’t actually training camps. P: Not for running, but if I go somewhere warm on a vacation I will try to run as much as I can. I did also move to the western coast of norway to avoid too much snow. A: Sometimes. When i do so i do it so i can really do some hard training there.

H Your best tip to get through the win-

ter: T: As we say in Sweden: “Gilla läget” Get used to the conditions where you live and make the best of it. There will always come a warmer day and I promise you will long for that snowy day with fresh air as much as you longed for the warm summer day in the winter. Appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the seasons. Lots of people can’t! J: Just hang on, summer will be in little over six months and then it may be too hot to run. So enjoy while you can. P: Continue running, winter training is refreshing! A: Get some good clothes, shoes and a water system that manages the cold. // Nordic Ultra #4 2012



Send an email to if you have a race for the calender.

February 4th Yukon Arctic Ultra (Canada) 4th

Rocky Racoon 100 mile (USA)


Karlstad 6 hour indoor (Sweden)

19th Londons Ultramarathon Trail Race (GBR) 22nd 6/ 12 hour in Kirov (Russia) 25th Endurance 24 hour run (FIN) 29th Across the years 72, 48, 24h (USA)

March 2st TransGrancanaria 123 (SPN) 10th Venice Ultramarathon (ITA) 10th Skövde 6hour (SWE) 17th Deeside Way Ultra 33 (GBR) 19th 1000miles Athens (GRE) 31st Glascow - Edinburgh double marathon (SCO) 31st Borlänge 6hour (SWE)

April 1st Ursvik Ultra (SWE) 14th Täby Extreme Challenge 100 mile (SWE) 14th Copenhagen Ultra (DEN) 15th Horsensrun 6 hour (DEN) 21st Lejonbragden 100km (SWE) 28th Lidingöultra 50km (SWE) 28th Ringerike 6/ 12h (NOR)


Nordic Ultra #1 2011

Editors Choice

Gjermund Sørstad dominating last years Ringerike Ultrafestival.

Nordic Ultra #1 2011


Animals that Ultra: Kangaroos H As an Australian, it was only a matter of time before I included

the kangaroo in animals that ultra. They are the only large mammal to use locomotion to transport itself, they don’t run or gallop as other animals its size. I had heard rumors before that they were very inefficient because of their technique at low speeds and yes there is some truth in that, their efficiency at low speeds is quite poor. Probably because they use their tails as a fifth leg. After some research I found that there are actually many advantages with locomotion and hopping. Kangaroos are able to reuse up to 70% of the energy from each bound, save it in their tendons to spring back in their next step. The longer kangaroos hop, the more energy that is stored. Humans can reuse only 20%. Scientists have tested kangaroos on treadmills. They had the same step frequency at all speeds, they just took longer steps. Big Red Kangaroos are able to take steps up for 4 meters long and average 2.5 steps a second, do the math‌ They use the same amount of oxygen running at 10km/hr as they do running 35km/hr so running faster over distances is an advantage as they save energy.//

Photo: Wikipedia

In the next issue... HA

running report from the other side of the pond.

H Those

H Animals

that ultra.

H Readers

stories from races around the world (if you send any in that is ...)

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in the know.

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Nordic Ultra #4 2012

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6-Days The best of 2011. Men



Nordic Ultra #4 2012

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838.450 km 834.189 km 833.000 km 783.750 km 778.000 km 774.900 km 766.700 km 762.600 km 751.563 km 744.666 km 726.725 km 722.625 km 713.000 km 703.910 km 698.455 km 691.242 km 690.850 km 685.725 km 683.601 km 675.364 km 673.000 km 672.400 km 666.250 km 664.757 km 658.050 km 657.996 km 656.612 km 650.174 km 644.856 km 641.000 km 637.550 km 635.690 km

Etiemble, Marc Sichel, William Sjåvik, Trond Fryer, Martin Schwerk, Wolfgang Efflam, Christian Posado Perez, Jose Luis Bec, Herve Aalto, Pekka (Asprihanal) Schlotter, Hans-Jürgen Brouard, Remi Pelissier, Stephane Nomikos, Nikitas Spacil, Petr (Atmavir) Trostenyuk, Yuriy Bögi, Sandor Alexander Boubakeur, Jimmy Rosset, Philippe Milovnik, Martin (Pranjal) Kiss, Zoltan Lo, Wei-Ming Fremery, Jean-Michel Chevillon, Bernard Accorsi, Andrea Miorin, Robert Mudrik, Igor Razumovskiy, Vladimir Stefanov, Andrei Kopakkala, Aku Thanos, Nikolaos Habasque, Gerard Christoffersen, Lars-Skytte


1971 1953 1958 1961 1955 1954 1954 1960 1970 1963 1957 1969 1957 1978 1964 1952 1969 1954 1973 1969 1964 1956 1951 1967 1957 1973 1974 1988 1958 1972 1967 1972

11.06. Antibes (FRA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 09.04. Athen (GRE) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 09.04. Athen (GRE) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 09.04. Athen (GRE) 18.06. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 18.06. New York, NY (USA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 09.04. Athen (GRE) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 18.06. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 09.04. Athen (GRE) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

750.000 km 749.954 km 705.259 km 703.283 km 701.673 km 675.556 km 672.705 km 656.000 km 650.000 km 633.604 km 601.675 km 601.460 km 584.191 km 555.223 km 552.475 km 534.025 km 531.083 km 516.599 km 516.149 km 507.375 km 503.724 km 498.896 km 496.100 km 489.240 km 482.803 km 471.537 km 466.709 km 465.100 km 461.881 km

Gayter, Sharon May GBR Cunningham, Catherine AUS Barchetti, Monica ITA Janakova, Theresa SVK Barnett, Sarah AUS Nagy, Krisztina HUN Abramovskikh, Olga RUS Gonzalez Garcia, Cristina ESP Hausmann, Martina GER Foundling-Hawker, Heather GBR Chevillon, Mireille FRA Mairer, Paula (Surasa) AUT Kareva, Elena RUS Nemcova, Ivana CZE Simons, Marie-Jeanne FRA Andrade, Chantal FRA Yashina, Daria RUS Eckert, Belinda GER Jäger, Ruth GER Golfier, Nicole FRA Doczlova, Zuzana SVK Khisamutdinova, Svetlana RUS de Geer, Boel SWE Plyavinskaya, Regina RUS File, Dianne (Niribili) NZL Jevdokimova, Uljana Litaf FIN Kuchkarova, Elena RUS Fischer, Lydia AUT Kryuchkova, Nadezhda RUS

1963 1958 1968 1970 1976 1962 1980 1984 1960 1966 1963 1959 1975 1981 1957 1964 1985 1985 1952 1952 1977 1944 1958 1966 1945 1955 1971 1970 1977

10.04. Athen (GRE) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 09.04. Athen (GRE) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 18.06. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 10.05. Balatonfüred (HUN) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 11.06. Antibes (FRA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA) 28.04. New York, NY (USA)

Nordic Ultra #4  

E-magazine about ultra running with focus on the Nordic countries.

Nordic Ultra #4  

E-magazine about ultra running with focus on the Nordic countries.