When I had to cancel the Aktivitus Trailrace for the second year in a row, I got an opportunity to run the race myself. It is still a competition, with the only difference that all participants can start whenever they want for a month. It is of course better to start in the morning, so that you get a full day of running before the first night comes, but I wanted to do it the way it was intended, and then the start is 20:00 on Friday. So I started at that time from Jonsered’s factories and out on Bohusleden north.
Part 1: Jonsered – Angered 13km, 1:30
I went out calmly, or what I thought was calm. I knew it was a long journey ahead of me, and since I was completely alone, I did not get the usual adrenaline rush from the start, and could take it easy. I started with 2 bottles of Umara 120g, and the plan was that they would last 16km each. The first leg is very easy to navigate, and I had a good flow.
Part 2: Angered – Dammekärr 27km, 3:14
Darkness fell, and the headlamp was turned on. The energy plan went on as planned, I started on the second bottle at 17km, and my body felt good. No problems or defects. When you enter the Vättlefjällsleden, it starts to flow really well. Here it feels like I’m really up and running. I stopped at Dammekärr and filled my empty bottle with water, and it was quite nice with a little clean water as a contrast to my lemon-spiced sports drink.
Part 3: Dammekärr – Fontin 39km 4:49
When I left Dammekärr it was 5 km to my next depot stop at Jennylund. Here Johan Isaksson had laid out a bottle of sports drink for me, mixed in the same way as the ones I had with me from the start, ie 1 liter with 240g of carbohydrates in. I had not really emptied the bottle I had, and did it at the checkpoint. Took out the bottle that was hidden under the house next to the stable, greeted the horses, and refilled my bottles. But there were a few decilitres left, and I knew that this was the last energy depot before I came back home, so I emptied the bottle before I took it with me and threw it in the next trash can in Bohus. But I should not have done that. During the long descent towards the Jordfalls bridge, my stomach was really bubbling, and I started to feel slightly nauseous. Not so dangerous, but I took it easy with the energy drink for a while.
Part 4: Fontin – Bönered 65km 9:00
My backyard. Perhaps the most tricky stretch for many, but a clear favorite for my own part. I did not need to have the map in front of me, I know the way. The only concern is the stomach. The overdose of carbohydrates in Jennylund is reminded all the time, and I have a lot of gas. “Never trust a fart in an ultra” is a well-known expression, so I have to take it a little cautiously. Meets a badger standing in the middle of the path who stares at me and refuses to leave. I have respect for animals with sharp teeth, so I talk calmly and quietly with her until she trudges off into the woods
When I enter the forest where I have run with pruning shears and marking tape the weekend before, I get really pissed when someone has picked down the most important markings, and made the new part that is difficult to find completely impossible to find. I know I’ve cleared a path, but I do not know exactly where to turn to find it. I swear loudly and am really annoyed when I know how much time and effort I have put into runners to find their way through the forest, and then someone is out there in the middle of a forest on the lift and sabotaging everything. I take out the map on the clock, and follow the trail. The terrain is still quite ok, but it will be a kilometer without trail. After that I know the way, around the yellow loop, down into Djupedal and up at the ancient castles.
Here it is no longer possible to ignore the stomach, so I turn off the path and out into the thicket and sit down to take a dump. It takes a while, but is extremely nice to run after this. So with a light stomach, I trip further into my paths behind the house, and meet the soon rising sun at the top of Kopparåsen.
Part 5 – Bönered – Tuve 83km 12:10
I take a rather long break at home in the house. Lubricates the feet, changes shoes and socks, changes into shorts, take a cup of coffee and a sandwich, changes the headlamp but forget to put out the extra battery from the first one. Packs energy for 50 km of running as well as buns and sandwiches. I skip bringing more bars, as I have only been able to get one bar down so far, I also empty out half of the sports drink powder, as I realize that I will not be able to get so much sports drink, and take a bottle of water and one with sports drink with me. I have only had 1 dl of sports drink since Fontin, so I know it will be hard. The longing to stop here and crawl into my warm bed is quite big, but I try not to think about it, I go out into the cold again. It’s really cold now before the sun has risen, and shorts feel like a bit to little clothes, but I know the sun will rise and start warming up soon. So i’m going to keep up the pace and get the heat up. The relatively long stop had done good for the body, the legs felt very fresh again, so I pretended to start now, forgot the night that had been, and looked forward to the remaining 106 km. I know that I can run 100 km.
Here I also find my way around well, so the map is almost not needed, I have run the route to Hisingsparken many times, and it is easy to find. The first coffee kick and euphoria subsides pretty soon, and I have to start grinding again. I know it’s because I’m low on energy, but I do not want to start feeling bad again and not get anything at all downl, so I take it easy with the energy. Sipping on the sports drink, no immediate hunger feelings yet. Once inside Hisingsparken, I notice that I have pulled the course over another peak compared to what I have run before, and there it is a little difficult to find the right way. But I know it’s uphill, so I run uphill. Or rather, walk.
Part 6: Tuve – Ängården 100km 14:35
In Tuve, David meets up with a packed buffet table! Things I did not know I was craving such as good cakes, clementine and coffee. I pull a sandwich out of the package and munch on. My stomach feels ok again, it’s just a sports drink that I have problems with right now. I also get a bag of vegan candy from David, which I save until it gets heavier. Wonderfull!
David runs with me along the paths from Hisingsparken to the Älvsborg bridge, and life is easy again! It does not go very fast, but it is great with company, even if I am a little less talkative than usual. Time flies by, and at the Älvsborg bridge, David runs off towards Lindholmen. Now I continue alone across the asphalt on the bridge and down into the city. I have drawn the track aiming at Lilla Ängården, deliberately so that it passes a seven eleven just before. And also tried to dot all the paths in all the green areas that are on the stretch, so it will be a bit of detailed navigation to find the right one. But I trust the watch, and nail every turn. At the seven eleven, I buy a bottle of water, refill a bottle with sports drink powder and ginger juice. and head into Ängårdsbergen.
Part 7: Ängårdsbergen – Sisjön 115 km 17:38
It was hot before, but starting to get a bity windy, and it gets cooler on the peaks. Ängårdsbergen, where I have run every Tuesday for the past 7 years, here it should be quite easy to find. And navigation is not a major problem, but the terrain. It’s starting to get really tough uphills without poles, and I’m not very fast on the technical downhill runs either, so it takes time. The pace slows down considerably.
In the middle of the forest, a familiar face appears, it is Jörgen Reppling who has come out to cheer me on. I go and talk to him for a while, before moving on. Not much faster, but it was nice with a little pep talk in the middle of the misery.
Ängi’s slopes, which I usually love, are suddenly very heavy. When I go down Mordor’s stairs, I have to be very careful. It’s steep, and a slip would have been devastating. But I get out, and take a break at the gas station at Fässbergsmot. Fill my bottles, top one with a little sports drink powder. My lips and nose are starting to get very dry and chapped, but I am once again failing to buy a lip balm. All sold out here too. Yes yes, it should ache a little to run far.
Part 8 – Sisjön – Kållered 129km 19:48
After Sisjön, it flows pretty well again. The paths are nice, the slopes are easy, and I have a good flow. I had contacted Simon Gustafson during the morning and adjusted the schedule for when he would meet me. 12 became 14 which became 16 when I realized that I had calculated incorrectly 10 km on where the control would be. I had the old track in my head, and there you pass Kållered after 120km, but the new track is extended. So a new incoherent call gives ETA Kållered 16:00.
But I can run quite well, and seem to be able to get there a quarter of an hour earlier. Extremely determined and focused, I count down the kilometers towards Kållered where we will meet outside Coop. As I pass under the railway bridge, I hear someone come running behind me and shout my name. It’s Simon. I register it, and think he’s probably catching up. It is only a few hundred meters to the stop. But he keeps screaming, and I realize that there are two coop in kållered, 500 meters apart. Simon has parked the car at the first, so I have to turn around and go back. My fault, but still annoying. Simon has set up a nice buffet in the trunk of his car, and has my dropbag with him. I realize I will not have to refill with any of what I packed except gels. But he has a bonus banana that is really good, and a cold beer. So we trudge away. I sip on my beer, and have only one marathon left. And now I have company again!
Part 9 – Kållered – Sisjön 154km 24:45
A few winding kilometers before we come up towards Tulebo and onto the Bohusleden again. Simon runs in front of me in what probably feels like snail’s pace to him, but it’s too fast for me. I need to walk all the uphills, and have a hard time seeing that there are any downhills or flat stretches anywhere. But once I get started with the running steps, my legs still feel good, but the energy is not there. So it becomes like small intervals all the time with recovery in between.
We stop at Herkulesgården and I can take a dump in the toilet. My stomach has started to complain a bit again, but after the toilet I will be a bit reborn again. Lighter as well.
It is calm and nice, but starting to get a little colder again. It’s good to have someone to talk to, and Simon follows all the way to Hobo Hill. He is eager to follow me all the way to the finish, but has no headlamp, and then it will be difficult. So he has to return to Kållered again. And I continue alone. It goes quite well after the toilet visit
Part 10: Skatås – Jonsered 171km 28:07
It’s starting to get really cold now. The watercrane in Skatås has two settings. Max or none. I get really wet when I try to fill a bottle with water. I empty the last powder and a shot of ginger juice, put on all the extra clothes I have with me. Windbreaker, rain jacket, double gloves and three buffs over the hat. I call Linda and says that I probably will not come home before midnight. I have 17 km left which probably takes at least 3 hours. Then begins the really fun part of the race.
When it starts to get dark, I see a buck. He’s just standing right next to me on the road. I talk to him, but even if he does not answer, it’s nice to have some company. I bring out the camera and take a picture. Do not see a buck in the picture. But it must be because it’s too dark, I think.
Time flies. Even if each kilometer runs in 10 minutes, it feels as if the km buzzer goes of all the time. Starting to get a little tired. I also meet a bear and a moose who are staring at me. But they disappear when I get closer, they sort of dissolve and become shadows.
I’m in a very good mood. My legs carry really well, I run as fast as I can and feel that I have a good flow. The clock says otherwise, but 8-9 min / km is probably ok after 27 hours of running, but it is not really worth it when I walk at 10 min / km. So I go back to the interval running from before.
When I come across the highway and approach the last stairs, I think I hear people standing and cheering, and when I come down to the finish line, I see that it is a group that has gathered to receive me at the finish line. But when I get closer, the sound dies out, and all people slip away, like shadows.
It is completely quiet and deserted. Not a soul. I’m alone. I press stop on the clock, and walks away towards the car. I’ve taken the lap around. Beaten my distance record by 2 kilometers and I feel pretty damn good.
I have a medal ceremony there in the dark. Gives myself a big hug and hang the medal around my neck. First to finish the race this year. But not the fastest.