All posts by thomee

 Aktivitus Trailrace 169k

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.

Professional skyrunner at age 48

It is never to late to be great. At age 48, I take my running to the next level and join Team Arduua as one of their professional frontrunners. When it comes to ultra trailrunning and skyrunning, grit, willpower and endurance is more important than capacity and topspeed.

So how did I end up where I am now? Here is the story behind, and the answer to why I joined Team Arduua when I got the question from the founder Katinka Nyberg in december 2020.

In 2019 I completed 12 ultra races, 5 of them in mountains with a lot of elevation gain. In 2020, all the races where canceled, and I had to rely on FKT and virtual races. I won the Trailrunning Sweden climbing competition where I did 7182 m+ in 16 hours on my backyard hill, climbing it 101 times, and I belive that this put my name on the list of swedish skyrunners, since I got an invitation to join Skyrunner Adventures on facebook.

During the summer, they had the skyrunner vertical challenge, where you should get as much positive and negative elevation in 1, 2 or 4 hours. And since we don’t have any big mountains here, I gave it a go in my backyard hill. I took the 4 hour challange, and managed to go up and down my hill with 70m+ 42 times. The Altimeter didn’t register all the elevation, since I turned to quickly at the top and bottom of the hill, but i managed 2807 m+ and 2763 m- in four hours, and won the competition.

The first prize was 1 year of coaching with a professional skyrunning coach. Being a running coach myself, I wondered how much use I would have of the prize, but I still decided to give it a go.

I started the coaching plan with measuring of my mobility and strength and an videocall with my coach Fernando Aramisen, an experienced skyrunning coach from Spain. He put my workouts in trainingpeaks, and we had follow up metings every month over e-mail. Everything I logged was synced from Garmin to TP, and I added a comment to each workout. I have followed a training plan before, but not with this much follow-up and coach interaction. I am not the most flexible person I know, and I could certainly use a lot more mobility…

The basics of the training follows what I am used to, a 80/20 setup with 80% Z1 low intensitey, and 20% Z4-5 high intensity. What was different was that the training was specific for skyrunning, where elevation gain was more important than distance. And specific parts of trail and mountain running, such as where to push on the up and downhills. This was new for me, and it suited me perfectly. The last 2 years I have done most of my high intensity training on the bike, since the fast speed needed for the higher pulse zones more often than not leads to stress injuries. And belive me, I have had them all.

I also find it much easier to get higher pulse on the uphills, so I do all my VO2max training on the slopes. The threshold paces I do on more even terrain, mainly on the trails.

Another thing that was new to me was the amount of strength and mobility excercises that was scheduled. At first, mostly with bodyweight, but now, with increasing weight on the bar. The plan has been based on my personal metrics, and been made to prepare my body for the added stress of lifting weights. I have certainly done my shere of lifting weights at the gym, but more for a general strength purpuse, and not specifically for skyrunning and ultrarunning focus.

And I see the results now. After only 4 months on the programme, I beat my personal best times on Strava more often than not, even putting in KOM:s on shorter sprint intervals.

So why did I join Team Arduua when Katinka asked me a month ago? It is of course a great chance and a big honour to be considered as a professional athlete, but I would not have joined unless I felt that they shared the passion and the knowledge for the sport that I have. To bring the competence of the spanish skyrunners to the rest of the world is a great idea, and something that I would like to be a part of, and something that I can promote.

So I’m really looking forward to 2021 as a part of the Arduua Team!

Read more about Arduua here : https://arduua.com

And my story on Arduuas blog: https://arduua.com/skyrunner-story/tomas-amneskog/

Pilgrimsleden FKT

I have had my eyes on Pilgrimsleden for some time. I ran the second half backwards a couple of years ago. They have now restored and re-routed parts of the old pilgrim route, and the new stretch looked interesting. And it should be doable during the daytime of the long swedish summer days.

The route is 137,66km long wit 2350m of altitude gain. The mainpart of the route is trail, but also big portions of gravel, and asphalt. I set out to do a unsupported attempt on the route. This means that I can not ave any support of any kind, and I need to carry all my energy and other things from the start. I can fill up wit water from publicly available waters sources, and all churches and cemetaries have water available. And almost every stage passes a church.

So I packed 8×60 g of Umara sportsdrink, 6x50g Umara bars, 8 breadrolls, eletrolytes, charger, first aid, emergency headlamp, water filter, extra socks, underwear, buff, merinotee and windbreaker. I also had 2 500ml softflasks with sportsdrink pre-prepared. I ordered a taxi at 03.00, and arrived at masthuggskyrkan 03:25. The weather was perfect now, +20 and clear skies.

Stage 1. Masthuggskyrkan – Nylöse kyrka 9,8 km

I started running through central Göteborg. A lot of churches needs to be passed on the way , and also skansen kronan. I ran nice and slow, and reached Nylöse Church after 1:03

Stage 2. Nylöse kyrka – Storås 10,7 km

After the first easy part, the route heads into the hilly singeltrack trails along Lärjeån. Here you can find water on the cemetary that you pass at km 11, and I filled one of my softflasks here. I reached Storås after 2:15 and 20,5 km.

Stage 3. Storås – Jennylund 11 km

From Storås, following Lärjeån comes the real nature part. A new stretch of the trail had been cleared, and this was pure joy running here. Still early morninghours, so the heat was bearable. I skipped the filling of water at Jennylund, and continued on. I reached Jennylund after 3:34 and 31,5 km

Stage 4. Jennylund – Starrkärr kyrka 17 km

After 6 km I stopped at Dammekärr to refill my softflasks. I knew that I had a long stretch before I could fill up again, so I filled both bottles with Sportsdrink. The new stretch from Dammekärr to Starrkärr was really nice. A lot of small trails, but also some areas where there were no trails. Only trailmarkers and veggies. At Starrkärr church I filled 1 bottle with only fresh water, refilled the second bottled with sportsdrink and electrolytes. I reached Starrkärr Church after 5:35 and 48,7 km

Stage 5. Starrkärr kyrka – Skepplanda kyrka 11.3 km

At this time of day it was getting quite hot. In the shade of the trees in the forrest, it was managable, but getting out on the asphalt stretch approaching Skepplanda, it was really warm. Just before Skepplanda, at forsvallen, the route made a detour around the waterfall and the old rockcarvings. I lived here as a child, so it was really emotional running in thoose surroundings.  I refilled both bottles, one with sportsdrink and extra electrolytes, and one with just water. On the way out I stopped and had a chat with a fellow Ultrarunner. I reached Skepplanda Church after 6:55, and 60 km. Keeping the average pace at 6:54 min/km, and the pace in motion at 6:30 min/km.

Stage 6. Skepplanda kyrka – Lödöse kyrka 9,8 km

The route from Skepplanda passes over Alvhems golfcourse. At this point I was starting to get really overheated, and was looking for a place to take a swim. Not a lake in sight, and I did not want to swim in the water obstacles on the golf course, so I ran on.  At Lödöse kyrka I refilled both bottles, one of them with carbs and electrolytes, and one with water. I drank a good 1 liter extra as well. I reached Lödöse Kyrka after 8:29 and 69,8 km.

Stage 7. Lödöse kyrka – Lilla Edet 15,7 km

After a technical and hilly section after lödöse museum, the route came out on a long stretch on asphalt alongside the Göta älv river. At this time the temperature reading was 39 degrees, so when I saw a opening by the river side, I took a small detour, took of my backpack, shoes and socks, and went for a swim to cool down. I noticed a loot of blisters on my toes due to the moist, so I changed socks and added shea butter to my feet before I went on.

At km 77 I got to Tunge Church, where I filled up with water. The water was a bit murky here, so I don’t recommend this church for filling up water. So my stomach felt a bit shaky, and I burped a lot. I only drank the sportsdrink, to be able to refill te water at the next stop in Lilla Edet. I reached Lilla Edet  and Fuxerna Church after 10:46 and 85,5 km.

Stage 8. Lilla Edet – Utby 15,8 km

Passing over the river and over to the west side of Göta Älv, the route went up and down two mountains, where the trails were quite difficult from time to time. I did a lot of walking here, all the uphills, and also some parts where it was hard to navigate. At 96 km I stopped at the church in Hjärtum for a good refill of water and sportsdrink, knowing that it could be a long stretch without a chance to refill. I reached Utby  after 13:24 and 101,3 km.

Stage 9. Utby – Trollhättan 18,9 km

When I left Utby, the skies started to darken, and the heat wasn’t as pressing. I even got a few splashes of rain. I heard a distant thunder, but there was no real danger. The route was technical from time to time, and after 111 km I started to get a bit low on water. But I saw a waterhose on a building, and could get a refill here. It is always nice not to ration the water.

I reached te magnificent views of Göta Älv, and ran alongside the river, up and down, until I got to the power-station. There the route crossed over, and went 4km back down to the locks. At this stage I started to feel tired, and running was not fun any more. I refilled my bottles at the public toilet at km 119, and continued to the Church of Trollhättan, which I reached after 16:40 and 120,8 km.

Stage 10. Trollhättan-Vänersborg 17 km

At this point a saw the finishline aproaching. I also knew that I had to keep moving to get there before dark. Fortunately, the route leading to Vänersborg was really easy, and I managed to run long stretches at the time now. I got to Vänersborg before the sun got down, and I could reach the end of the route in daylight. The total time was 18:41:10, and the distance 137,66 km.

I walked back the last km to Vänersborg, and got a large cold beer when I was waiting for the train. Jocce came and joined me for a quick drink, and I got on the 23:09 train back to Bohus, where Linda came and picked me up.

The run is now published and approved as a new Fastest Known Time!
https://fastestknowntime.com/fkt/tomas-amneskog-pilgrimsleden-gota-alv-sweden-2020-06-26

Route on Garmin connect: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5149667135

Route on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/3675520479

Midnight run Gothenburg 2015

So it was time for midnattsloppet again, for the 4th time in order. It has become a bit of a tradition to go out in the night and run the 10 kilometres around majorna with start and finish in Slottsskogen. This year the weather was with us as well, around 20 degrees, no wind and very clear.

For the first time in a long time I ignored completely in to make any race-preparations. I'm in the middle of a racing weight quickstart, i.e. building training with calorie deficit. Less carbs, more protein. Easy running, strength training and a lot of that on an empty stomach and water. Despite this I have gained 3 kg in the past week. The body has become accustomed to the deficit, and gone into sleep mode again. I will reduce the calorie plan from 2000 to 1500 cal/day, and see if it goes in the right direction again.

Anyways, my legs felt like logs when it was time to start, but I know it will fix itself after a while despite how it feels at the start. So when the starting gun went off 21:30 I put away in the regular racefart. It felt as if it was not especially fast, but the first kilometer was completed at 3:37, and when I checked the final results, I was in place 52.

Then it became a little more uphill, but I was able to keep the momentum over the first 3 kilometres. It was not until around the 5k marking I was beginning to feel really tired. I lay and pushed myself 5 beats over the lactate threshold on the uphill slopes, and not very much lower on descents. My pulse was just around the 160 mark, but I was passed by runners at all times.

And then it was time for the ascent up to masthuggskyrkan. To have any chance and not go straight into the wall, I checked the pulse all the time. But I lost time, and this kilometers was the slowest of the entire race, 4:31.

But when you come up on top, you know that you reach the finish very soon, and just dash downhill. Last mile to slottsskogen was cruel, with climbs almost as hard as up against masthuggskyrkan. It didn't go fast here, and when I arrived at the finish line I saw that the clock had just passed 40 minutes. I thought I had an eye on the time, but it turned out as usual to the track was almost 200 metres further than my watch told me, and there went my sub40 time.

Nevertheless, I am still right happy with being able to press so hard in the middle of a heavy training period. And even if I didn't better the time from last year, the position was some snaps up. The end time was 40:8, and 90:th place.

But this was the last time I ran a 10k race in over 40 minutes. It is time to raise the minimum level a notch in the autumn, with harder intervals.IMG_3261