Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bellmanstaffetten & Vasastaffetten: two relays, three legs, same distance

Frankly talking, this week has been fun.
I slowed down with trainings, since I started competing after I spent two months in training.

Bellmanstaffetten 2014
On Thursday I was running Bellmanstaffetten, a pretty cool business relay (5 x 5km). Last year my Company was able to arrange two teams, but this year some of the last year' runners have left and others were on vacation (the famous Swedish ultra-long vacations...). Thus, we were able to arrange (almost) one team, entered in the men's class. The original plan was to run as R&D office. However, since we were so few (just three of us entered the race), we decided to open the team to other offices as well. At the end we were happy to included in our relay team my Latvian team-mate Akvile (quite good orienteer running for IFK Lidingo and working for the same Company of mine).

Four out of five then, and I was kindly asked then to run twice... I ran the first and the last legs. I wanted to try to push as hard as I could on the first one and take it easy on the last. Unfortunately, there wasn't any good runner on the first leg, so I was running alone from the start. I finished my leg in 15'20'' (45 seconds faster than the last year). I was not really running as I should have; I started too fast, with a crazy first km in 2'45'', which is clearly too quick for me right now. Considering that the course is gently hilly and in mixed terrain, I'm happy anyway. One hour after that I ran the last leg trying not to push but to relax. I was pretty impressed by my run, since I cross the finish in 15'50''.

We ended up at 9th place in men's class (full results here). It is the best result of my Company so far, with an average speed higher than 15 km/h.

On Friday evening I was driving to Sälen with my roommate Øystein to run Vasastaffetten (10 men relay on the full Vasaloppet track - 90km) for Mats Andreason's team.
Here in Sweden everybody is looking at me like I'm crazy if I say that Sälen is already in the edge of the World, but you can trust me, it is. Five hours North from Stockholm, in the middle of the Swedish country side, nothing around it, just forests. It is famous because every year almost 16.000 cross-country skiers take part of the World's biggest ski competition: Vasaloppet. The course is really cool, even in Summer time; it crosses forests and marshes through small hilly paths, surrounded by a sort of unusual natural silence.
I was chosen for running a short leg (second last - 5.5km), although I would have preferred to run a longer one. The reason is probably that, on the paper, I was clearly the worse runner in the team. The team arranged by Mats was incredibly good, including a lot of World class orienteers and Swedish track runners.
This is what the team looked like:
  1. David Nilsson - SWE
  2. Scott Fraser - GBR
  3. Edgars Bertuks - LAT
  4. Øystein Kvaal Østerbø - NOR
  5. Andreas Åhwall - SWE
  6. Staffan Ek - SWE
  7. Ola Nyberg - SWE
  8. Martin Holmstrand - SWE
  9. Giancarlo Simion - ITA
  10. Fredrik Uhrbom - SWE
Our goal was to beat the course record, but I would say that the weather didn't help us at all. On Saturday it was raining, cold, foggy and muddy all over the track. The runnability slightly compromised, especially in the first "wilder" five legs.
After a long fight with the local team (IFK Mora), which was leading until the fifth leg, we won by 5 mins (full results here). It was not such a big surprise; I think we had better runners in the last few legs than them, but it was exiting that two teams of 10 runners were fighting for 90km! My race was pretty average, I've frankly had better feeling on Thursday, but I can't complain. It was a really nice experience.
Vasastaffetten 2014: finish

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