It's 6 a.m. and I'm awake, thinking about what is going to happen in 2 hours....
Eating, drinking..... Preparing my Salomon Adv Skin 12 set running vest with all the things that I might need under the 100k following after the start in Jonsered. I'm focused. Thinking about all the possibilities and variables. Remove the unnecessary, think if things go wrong, think about the weather.... the night might fall and you need the headlamp as well despite starting in the morning. It's heavy, I never had a heavier vest before and I will have it on for many, many hours....
It's a bit before 7 a.m. and Annika is waiting for me as promised. It's raining and... I'm hoping that it will stop.... eventually! I checked all the apps on my phone - the showed all the same thing with minor differences - it would rain... the whole day! I was ready, my mind was ready and I have been training for months for this.....no, what? For this??
... yeah, not really!
Actually I was preparing for months in order to run the 100 Miles of Istria that should have taken place in April but it was postponed to September. Than after that I switched my whole focus on another race in front of me - The Lavaredo Ultra 120km in Italy! Everything went well. The fitness was good, the form quite OK. I had minor issues and those long lasting problems with my groin that I managed somehow to have under control for months. The tightness was there but without any pain.
When I received the e-mail that the Lavaredo would happen I was thrilled, happy and very excited. But everything just vanished away in minutes when I realized how much trouble it was to travel to Italy with all the risks due to the ongoing pandemic. I started to check all the possible alternatives, the possibilities. I needed to visit Italy for working purposes as well, my family.... everything was on hold due to this pandemic. And... I wanted to race? What was wrong with me. I felt miserable. As much as I wanted to race, to enjoy the Dolomites I was realizing that the travel conditions were changing day after day, that rules were changed too often and that there was no guarantee to travel 100% safely. An infection or worse could affect my family if I was eventually forced to a long quarantine or sudden lockdown etc. It was simply not easy - almost impossible.
After a few weeks I wrote to the Lavaredo organizers but I got the answer that they would not allow deferrals into the same event the next year and that I could choose a shouter race if I wanted to.
I understand that there are many in Italy that did not get the proper chance to get their training volume. That was not my case. I had a proper training, but travelling to Italy and the stay in a crowded Cortina seemed to me a bit unnecessary in a middle of a pandemic crisis! The Lavaredo management thinks that everything is just fine..... A week after a new e-mail came with new rules that definitely made me rethink the whole Lavaredo organization. It was just too risky for the runners! It was impossible for me.
I made my decision and decided not to race the Lavaredo Ultra this year. The decision opened a gap. A huge window in my calender that suddenly needed to change!
And a change came suddenly. A decision that I made just days prior this race that was ongoing here around Gothenburg, a race that I knew well made by a friend. A race that had everything that I needed and the distance I was preparing for. It was the perfect race for me... right here, right now! So I applied for the race and it went as described....
The Aktivitus Trail Race Race
The Aktivitus Trail Race is a loop race here in the Gothenburg (Sweden) area. There are two distances: the 63k and the 169k race. The 169k race consists of a loop around Gothenburg on single trail, tracks and roads with an ascent of approx. 5200 meters. The maximum time for completing the race is set to 34 hours.
Annika picked me up in the morning as promised and we drove to Jonsered where we planned to start at 8 a.m. and run with other fellow runners.
Running the first 12k together with the race director and other friends was a perfect way to start the race.
The idea that I had was to run together with that group of fellow runners that knows well the course. Running the first 12k with them was indeed a perfect decision. I could relax and enjoy the run.
The pace was slightly too fast but I felt OK the whole way. I noticed after a few km that I dropped Annika and Daniel and despite the fact that I knew that their pace suited me better, I continued the run with the first pack of runners chatting and making jokes in the rain that was kinda coming down on us harder and harder but still not that annoying.
The beginning: Glenn - Chapter I
Glenn, a person that I previously "met" only on Instagram came along the trail and run as well with us a few kilometers. This is the person that will help me survive this adventure.... from nobody to a friend and this is one of many reasons why I love this amazing sport!
The energy intake was planned from the start of the race....
After the first 12k I changed direction and I was for the first time alone. I had to check my watch all the time and follow the GPS. The first part of this section I was following the trails in the Vättlefjäll Nature Reserve. The beauty of the trails and the scenery around with all the lakes is fantastic. It's so beautiful that I managed somehow to miss the right turn in a spot and run with great flow for a few miles but.... in a wrong direction. The thing is that the image on my Suunto watch pointed right and the right path was "slightly" to the left instead. Because of the fact that the image on the watch does not show a topographic image I ignored the fact that I was running on a wrong side of the lake until I stopped and turned back after a few miles. Than I stopped and the rain started "washing" me hard! So badly that I decided to continue on that path anyway. I would eventually reach the right trail anyway. This "tiny" error had a price of more that 120m of elevation, ca. 4km of added distance and, due to stress, I ran at a "too fast" pace as well! I have to learn to cope better with this! Problems like these are an issue only when I run alone.....
The rest of those first 40k of the race could be summarized as a fight of me with the elements. Wind, rain, muddy trails and no trails at all.... just water! My feet were wet all the time and I was completely wet as well. Due to the format of the race I had to carry with me everything in order to run the first 100k. My wife would meet me with the energy, new shoes and clothes just after 100k. That meant that I needed to carry a lot during those first hours. The rain stopped a bit when I reached Kungälv!
Kungälv: Glenn and I met right after the Jordfallsbron bridge.
I was finally approaching Kungälv. Being able to stretch my legs a bit on paved roads and change the stride a bit helped a lot. It was kinda nice to have some paved road ahead. The bridge was there, in front of me, the "Bohus Fästning" (Bohus Fortress) on the right side and I was really looking forward to meet Glenn and talk to a human once again!
Hisingen: Glenn - Chapter II
And there he was, smiling and cheering with a bottle of water ready to assist me and run a few miles with me. We proceeded running and chatting and hiking uphill those lovely trails surrounding the fortress. It's a really nice area. I visited the area years ago a few miles from that spot during a nice medieval event. I like things like that. It's good to understand and appreciate the history and comprehend more about the area. Anyways, the rain started pouring once again on us. Not heavily like before, but consistently. It was wet, I was wet all over my body, sweaty under the jacket, maybe the best thing would have been to run naked at that point! :)
Glenn and I moving forward through a quite challenging section...
Trails or #notrail at all?! Just moving forward through the jungle!
The race director Tomas Amneskog supporting the only runner on the course that day. He just finished the 61k race thus the medal around his neck! Well done m8!
Hisingsparken: Glenn - Chapter III
A view from the top of the Hisingsparken
We ran together and it felt pretty nice to have him there with me because I got myself into a dark place. I was fighting the trails with all my power.... I was sooo tired of that race, the dark.... the rain, the mud, the whole thing! The good thing was that there was no bench there - well, at least nothing that was good enough to accommodate my fancy bottom on it! So I continued running. I remember chatting "crap" with Glenn and I was thinking like: "Did I just spoke to the guy in Swedish (because he is Swedish) or was it Italian, Croatian or....?!". Anyways, he was there, like an angel guiding my lazy azz through the night.
Yeah, the weather was killing me, but the view from this place is amazing indeed!
Anders Sandegård - The energy booster
The real night, the dark one had yet to come and it was a good, no... GREAT thing that after leaving Glenn I had the opportunity to get some love from my buddy Anders Sandegård. His house is like 10mt from the course at the km 86 of the course. I got a bit of warm pasta and a vegan pizza slice as well. Tastyyyy and MUCH appreciated. After a short chat he accompanied me back to the trail and I continued running once again all alone now towards the dark. This time I was running good, I felt better, much better. I really needed to refill my body with real food! At some point of the race I started hating the gels and all the energy drinks I was pushing into me. Pasta... that was a game changer!
Another image made by Glenn of me crossing the Älvsborgsbron bridge in the middle of the night.
Älvsborgsbron: Glenn - Chapter IV | My wife and the real check point on 50% of the race
Glenn was here.... once again! He wanted to cheer me a bit just before the bridge and than meet me after the bridge where my wife was waiting for me as well. He didn't want to scare her in a dark parking lot! :)
I mean... what a fantastic athlete and genuine person! Amazing indeed! I appreciated every single second of those moments. Me being taken care of by my wife and Glenn that was there helping as well. WOW!!!
My wife taking care of me in the middle of the night right after the Älvsborgsbron bridge in the middle of the night. Pure LOVE! :)
Änggårdsbergen: The Purgatory
It's almost impossible, difficult to understand how sleep deprivation can affect an athlete during a night, under tough rain with trails that are tiny waterfalls where each step could potentially end in an injury or worse. I had to focus, I had to move forward. The watch pointed to the left... the brain told me that the right trail was on the right (straight ahead), but unfortunately, after 110k I decided to trust the "high tech" on my wrist instead. That mistake made me really mad! Right there I stopped looking at the GPS and made NO mistake all the way until I came out from Änggårdsbergen. The problem was that I knew that I took a few sections there a bit too hard and that I would probably suffer later on because of that. I just wanted to get out of the darkness, I wanted to shake off the water from my body, the shoes.... I had that "claustrophobic" feeling and I hated that moment. I just needed to get to the downhill ant out of the woods...
Anyways, I was there, out of the woods, back to the street with lights on, refilled my water bottles and looked a short moment to the left. Just 2k from that spot was a warm bed waiting for me.... tempting, really tempting!
The Shutdown of the Body/Mind/Soul
When I reached the 120th km something else happened. Something that I recognized from the UTMB in 2017. During that race back in 2017 "something" happened during the second night and it was a well understandable consequence of sleep deprivation. But now, after 120k and not even half the elevation of the UTMB - I was cooked, boiled, toasted and ready to fall asleep right there on the wide gravel road on that climb to the Sisjön lake. I was moving slowly, left to right and right to left. I was just fortunate that the gravel road was a wide one because I was literally sleepwalking! I wanted to talk to somebody, I wanted to call somebody... But you are not supposed to call a person in the middle of the night, right to left! I was sleepwalking the hill! So I figured.... I can talk to myself. So I did that for a few minutes, but it was too damn difficult to talk without laughing at that "shit show". What a misery, what a LOW place to be. So I figured, I need to rest my body a bit. Just a few minutes. I need to do that in order to gain something. Pushing my luck in those conditions was not an option. I was not racing to injure me!
The bench near the lake at the "Scoutstugan" was the perfect solution. That one felt perfect right there when I closed my eyes.The shutdown was complete. I needed a reset and a restore. After ca. 10-15 minutes I was back running. This time relaxed and with a proper stride. I took my camera out and I filmed a bit as well. It was a really good moment. I could relax once again, enjoy the early morning on known trails, listen to the birds and enjoy the sound on the gravel trails of my Altra Olympus3 on my feet. Everything was just perfect once again... as it should be! I was completely relaxed....
The Shutdown of the Tech
Yeah right.... that "mantra" section and that relaxing moment of the race ended just after a few km. During the km 130 I stopped to make a nice photo and I noticed that my watch was BLACK! Dead! I was furious..... I pressed the button and the GPS was still on but on a battery save mode. I connected the watch to a USB battery charger but nothing happened. The same mode continued. I started thinking that at the km 140 I would meet Branislav and run the rest of the course with him. I hoped that he had a spare charger with him. The thing is that during that day, I was running all alone the whole course, there was no other fellow runner running the course, just me. So the only "proof" of the event was my GPS. That made me really mad. I was mad on me because I wasn't being focused. I didn't check on my watch the last hour and it almost died. How crazy was that!?
I started pushing once I left the single trail section. That part to Kållered is a wide gravel road, so if you have some power in your legs it's a good thing to push a bit and gain a few minutes there. Well, I did that, but I was a bit too hard on me...
The patient runner: Branislav
Kållered: A control point made by Branislav with a beer! That was the right touch there after 140k m8! Thank you!
Luckily, the trails between Kållered and the Gunnebo area are really lovely. Yes, they are quite technical, challenging but never boring. You need to stay alert all the time. Due to the overall stiffness of my body, being really drained of all my energy, I used that time on those trail just to move forward, chat a bit, eat a lot and rest my head from the stress. I knew that I was OK with the GPS now. The worse scenario would be to use the GPS file from Branislav and combine it with mine. That made me calm again and I could just relax, move forward and be happy again...
The views during this section are not really spectacular but the trails are really nice, a few lakes make this part of the course one of my favourite parts of the entire area.
Gunnebo: Glenn - Chapter V
Day 2: Glenn was there waiting for us. He would run approx. 20k with me and Brane all the way to Skatås.AMAZING!
He wanted to share the trails with us even the last day of the race. This time I was not really that social like hours ago, but he understood that. There was Branislav that is a chatty guy and they discussed about... well, you know... everything. I enjoyed listening and relaxing there behind those two runners and just follow their footsteps.
Gunnebo: The Family
My wife and my son were waiting for us at the Herkulesgården parking lot. My family gave me energy and lots of love there. Running was much easier after that point. :)
Me, on the other hand was questioning my body. That climb is surely not an easy one after something like 155-ish km in my legs. It felt quite strange that I felt that good right there on the top of that climb. A few km from that place is the Delsjön area. A big lake with wide easy trails.
The Delsjön Area
The Hobo Hill climb with Branislav
Skatås: Veselin Check Point
The CP arranged by Veselin and his daughter was very appreciated. Thank you Veso!
Glenn had to run back and head back home. I figured.... I'm surely gonna see him again somewhere in the woods.... but that was not the case. He did something amazing during all these hours. I'm never gonna be able to describe my gratitude. It was a privilege to share a part of this adventure with you Glenn! Really!
It wasn't easy to push the runnable sections with Branislav
That is what I did. I ran easily those gravel sections or wooden footbridges. The rest was speed hiking and moving forward. I understood that Branislav would be happier right there with a portable TV or something. He was there approx. 20mt in front of me the whole time. We didn't talk that much there. I guess that after 30k with me with such an easy pace he was also mentally tired of his part of that adventure. Still, I figured that the experience would help him during his FKT attempt later on in May (and it did).
Branislav and I running towards the finish line of the race...
I will remember this race for life!
- A huge thanks to my family for all the support during this race and the patience during hours and hours of training for such races and my love for the sport.
- A deep respect to Glenn. I found a new friend and a new fellow runner! Respect! You were there for me when I needed a helping hand. Perfect timing m8!
- Anders, I need to thank you and your family for the love and energy that you guys gave to me. You knew what I needed back there. Appreciate it a LOT!
- Branislav, you are my trail brother. We shared a lot and these 40k with you were a bit special. You could see me euphoric, a bit cocky sometimes, desperate and low other times and happy, sad.... I mean, you got to see a lot! We take a short break now OK!? Ehehehehe
I have to thank the race director as well. Tomas Amneskog is a fellow runner, a race director, a friend but most of all a person that loves the sport and understands the challenges of such races. Appreciate a lot for this adventure, the help and assistance! Kudos to you!
The video below is my small contribution to this race. Grab your favourite drink and some snacks and enjoy the 40 minute video! 🙂
Have fun!..... I did! 😃
Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel. I would appreciate it a lot! 😃
I'll be BACK! ;)