Guest blog by the female winner of Ultraløbet Molsruten 58 km. – Karin Swiegers from South Africa. Enjoy…

10665813_373506532796545_30899102659705243_nFoto: Stine Sophie Winckel

Ultraløbet Molsruten Race Report by Karin Swiegers

A little bit about me…

I’m not much of a writer, more a talker just that you all know from the start! For those of you who don’t know me I’m Karin, 39 years old, born and raised in South Africa. I moved to Denmark about 6 years ago,actually I’m a half-Dane but I admit I haven’t quite mastered the language, it just doesn’t sit well in my mouth, well not yet! I’ve always loved running. I used to spend hours and hours training middle distance track through my childhood and the love of the sport has still stuck with me. About 4 years ago, here in Denmark, I casually picked it up again. My first aim was to just complete a 10km race, which soon turned into a half marathon. Before long I had hopes for a full marathon and then the idea of doing an ultra became really really interesting. Initially I entered  Fyr til Fyr this year as preparation for Salomon Hammer Trail 50km. ( I actually fell out of that race due to injury) Anyway, the idea of running my first ultra was very exciting, I mean it seemed so far and impossible in my mind, why would anyone want to run so far and for what reason?….  but I had to try. So, I managed to complete it,just just…barely with terrible legs and a very upset stomach, it was not at all what I had expected! At the same time doing ‘Fyr til Fyr’ a switch went on. Here I had found something that really challenged me on so many different levels that I knew I was going to want to come back for more. Anyway, I was injured for a while but soon decided I had to set a new goal to try the distance again, that’s when I entered Molsruten. This time I told myself I had to be physically and mentally more prepared to do it better! My coach, Michael Boye Christiansen, worked out a strategic plan for me, trying to accommodate  my other ideas of wanting to run faster shorter races, so it was quite an interesting preparation I went through. At the same time I changed my diet to a much simpler and cleaner lifestyle following Paleo principles.So, if you’re wondering what that means, well just think caveman….meat and fresh vegetables and fruits really. Strictly speaking Paleo is dairy-free but I cheat with skyr ( eat it by the ton) and some milk in my coffee.  Otherwise no sweets, cakes, chips anything artificial. You basically train the body to find its energy source from fat…. So that’s the bit on me….

10628386_373355976144934_2576656803288363958_nFoto: Stine Sophie Winckel

The run itself

I travelled Friday afternoon with my good friend and running pal, Anders Thompsen, to Fredericia to another running buddy, Bent Jensen, who kindly let us stay over for the night. By 6am the next day we were all awake,finding our gear, getting pumped and motivated for what was lying ahead…I started the day with x2 eggs, avocado and a few spoons of oats. I also managed to start the day by breaking my watch strap. The strap had torn away and was dangling in front of me. How would I know how many km’s I’d covered and more importantly  how would I know when the end was coming if I ended up bonking and I was on my own?My friends told me to get over it but deep down inside I was panicking, I always ran with my watch, it was like a real body part and buddy,I had to make a plan and fast. So, we tried to repair it with glue but by the time I arrived at the race it was apart again arghhhhh. Plan B… I then tried sports tape to keep it together, luckily it worked and stayed intact, infact it’s still on it right now! So.. after Moses’ briefing we set off around 10:00am, I told myself I would hold back for the first 10km and just check out what’s going on in the field ahead of me. Gitte and Annemette shot ahead like two bullets. I  thought ok just relax and try and keep them in sight,but very soon I’d lost sight of Gitte and Annemette was getting into her own rhythm and she was slowly slipping away. Fortunately, I had Bent with me who encouraged me to stay close and not let the gap get any bigger than what it already was.  The first few km’s went by quite quickly, I was warming up nicely and feeling fresh. We were lucky it wasn’t too hot or cold, just perfect running conditions nice and cool. My confidence was growing and I wanted to increase the tempo, I had caught up to Annemette by now and stuck behind her for some time, you know she is really fast! !!! 🙂 I think I slipped past her around the 7/8km mark ( despite my very wet socks and shoes at this stage! Let me explain to those of you who did not do this, there was water on this route, and I mean A LOT of it! High -tide must have set in and within a few km’s of the start I had super wet feet and probably so did everybody else! This explains the two huge blisters I got!!) Anyway, I kept ploughing along… At this point I must have met up with the awesome Lars Hugin, who became my wing-man for the next 30km plus, and a couple of really nice guys, sorry just can’t remember your names! I was happily chatting away to them and the km’s just raced past us without me noticing. Everything was going perfectly, the route was interesting with single track trails, thick forests, more water, rocks….. my energy levels were super high and I was basically having the best time ever! I think we were cruising around 4:45/km for quite some time.Nearing the first depot I must have caught up to Gitte without realizing it because there she appeared in front of me. She must have shot off again without me noticing because I was having a tiny struggle with my drinking bottles and mixing in the energy I had brought with. (Before I forget let me commend both depot points where the help I received was AMAZING! I had x2 people attending to my bottles…filling them ,shaking them, putting the lids on for me so I wasn’t fumbling around with it, it was a big help when all I had on my mind was don’t let Gitte get away again!!! Gitte by the way you are a super star 🙂

Lars, myself and some others then re-set ourselves on cruise control and off we went again. We pretty soon entered a new section of forest when I noticed her again and this time I made sure I stuck close-by.  She stopped for a few moments along route and I knew that was my chance, I had set my pace a bit faster  and I was planning to stick to it so I slipped by. My pulse was steady, the legs were working, everything was going as planned. Even my wingman was in a brilliant mood so I had perfect company as well!! Run, run run….

Around 30km plus we had the tough trip around the island with all the rocks…big ones, fat ones, slippery ones you name it they were there waiting for us! I have no idea how I didn’t fall, but I didn’t..not once! Must have been my new shoes that still had plenty of grip and all the balancing tricks I’ve been learning at yoga recently 🙂 Unfortunately for me  I lost Lars after the trip around, he had been the biggest support along route for me so I was quite devastated when I realized he wasn’t alongside me anymore.Thanks Lars you were the greatest company I could have asked for  and you really pulled me along!! 🙂

10346057_373354906145041_7973909442319149694_nFoto: Stine Sophie Winckel

So, the lonely part of my journey had began. I knew I was lady no.1 by now, I knew I had about 22 plus kilometers to go- question was could I keep this speed up on my own? I thought to myself ok I’ll try and catch the next group in front of me, make new friends and stick with them, however every time I passed the runners they were stuck in their own tempo and dealing with their own personal crisis so I just kept moving past, saying hi and waving as I went by.  I think this is where I pulled out my earplugs and turned up some Danish playlist on my iphone to keep me company, I had officially got lonely!!!

After the second depot I entered yet another forest of rolling hills and wide tracks…up and down I moved along , drinking as much as I could when I remembered. My legs were fresh as they could be after so many km’s and I was still feeling motivated and happy . I remember at the briefing it was said there might be long distances in-between the markings ( red and white streamers) they had  obviously meant this because here I was stuck in a situation looking all over for them! I was all on my own in this big big forest! No-one next to me, no-one in front, no-one behind me,helping me along and  I was searching for them everywhere. Every time I saw one my heart skipped a beat and I knew ok I’m not lost, well not yet!! The kilometers ticked by, I kept refueling ,I even thought ok I’m going to do this under 5 hours at this rate but I knew when I reached the last 6km or so I had dropped my tempo quite a lot. My stomach had started to hurt a bit  and I knew this was not going to be achievable on my own. Plus,more and more hills appeared from nowhere, or maybe they appeared bigger than they really were at that point. I refused to walk up them, I just wanted to keep moving forward! I did pass the odd runner or two on route, I was so happy when I saw them, it  gave me great confidence that I must have managed to stay on route successfully.By the time I reached the asphalt, I think it was the last 2 or 3km , I knew it couldn’t be far and I focused on getting to the end. My body was finally signaling to me it was getting tired and mentally I didn’t want to run extra km’s on my own anymore!When I finally spotted all the cheering supporters, I was thinking gee I’m really almost there and I’m actually doing this and I’m still moving! I was welcomed in with a big clap and just like that it was all over! I had done it, completed it, even with a tiny left-over energy and a bit fat smile plastered all-over my face. I was so so pleased! How incredibly different my second experience had been compared to my first attempt 🙂

10418294_373506259463239_5897375928357793770_nFoto: Stine Sophie Winckel

 So to Moses , Thure  and all your wonderful helpers you have really outdone yourselves with organizing this really beautiful and scenic race, giving us the runners the best possible experience we could have hoped for. You know every single volunteer and supporter that spent their free, valuable time cheering for us is so appreciated. When that road gets long and trust me it can get real long and you hear that one single clap it means everything at that point. Will I try it again, for sure…Why?  Because it’s insane cool fun and motivating and I get to hang out in nature with some really nice people and be challenged in all kinds of ways.You know you don’t know what you’re capable of if you don’t at least give it a try, right? Thanks to all of you for making it such a memorable experience for me and so many others! So here’s my result: No. 10 overall and No.1 girl in 5h:3min:49sec

What gear and supplies I used for this race

Pack: Salomon S-lab hydro 12 Set, really comfortable- can highly recommend

Shoes: Salomon S -lab Sense 3 Ultra SG

Socks: merino wool Inov8, didn’t help at all, my feet were soaked all the way!

Compression calves,top and skirt: Salomon -perfect, comfortable

Sunglasses: Adidas evil eye 😉

Energy: 2 and half liters energy drink plus 2x bitesize homemade energy bars

Watch: Garmin 610 – held together with sports tape 😉

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