Tuesday, 23 August 2016

On point with Kristin Larsson

A victory in the mixed or women category seems not enough. Just lately Kristin Larsson wrote SwimRun history when herself and partner Daniel Hansson grabbed the overall win at the Ötillö Engadin SwimRun competition in Switzerland. Nobody else had completed the exciting course faster before. The Stockholm duo shattered the course record and took the overall win. Inspiring!

It is not only SwimRun where Kristin leaves her fast marks. Mountain running, Adventure- or Expedition racing is where the competition fears her.

A couple of days before Annika Ericsson and Kristin will be trying to shock this years Ötillö competition, the mother of a two-year old son found the time to answers some questions.

Runssel: Pretty uncommon for a girl from northern Sweden you were involved in Nordic skiing from an early age. Did you skate on national or international level? Why did you stop? 

Kristin: Growing up in a small village outside the tiny town of Överkalix (just below the Arctic Circle), cross-country skiing was my major sport until junior age. Moving south to start my studies at the University made me discover other sports and I found a big passion in Multisport (MTB, kayaking and running) and mainly Adventure Racing (e.g. non stop Expedition races up to 7 days and nights in teams of 4 persons).

Runssel: In addition to the skating what other sports did you do when you were young? 

Kristin: As a child I tried almost all sports that were available in my hometown. Getting older I focused mainly on cross-country skiing but I also played soccer and did some trail running during summer time.

Kristin during the 2016 Haglöfs Åre Extreme Challenge. (Picture: Ola Rockberg)
Runssel: Besides your notable mountain running career you have a very remarkable pedigree when it comes to Multisport and Adventure racing. How did you end up in this sport? What is the splendour of this sport for you?

Kristin: At first Adventure Racing tempted me mainly for pushing my limits and curiosity of the adventures. I did focus on Adventure Racing for many years but stopped racing in this discipline three years ago and now my focus is mainly on Multisport and SwimRun. Adventure Racing is an extreme sport and I like the complexity of it including the teamwork and the mental aspects of pushing hard despite lack of sleep and rest. At the same time I feel that the sport has not developed during the last years and I think that the shorter multisport races are more competitive and more fun to race.

Runssel: You raced and won your first SwimRun competition in 2013 version of the Angaloppet. Subsequently it seems that you are racing every weekend. Why SwimRun? What is so special? 

Kristin: Today my focus is split between SwimRun and Multisport. In 2013 I was only doing Multisport competitions and raced Ångaloppet just for fun and managed to win. In 2014 our son was born two months before ÖtillÖ. When I was standing with him at the finish line in Utö, watching Daniel and Lelle smashing a new course record, I thought that this is a sport I want to try too. During the last two years I have been focusing equal on multisport and SwimRun. Of course, it had been easier to focus on only one sport but if I would train “only” swimming and running I would really miss my mountain biking and kayaking.
I like SwimRun a lot because of the simplicity. Obviously it is much less gear than Adventure Racing where you need to fill a garage for each race. I like the balance between running and swimming and it’s a great feeling of freedom to combine these sports. Recently we did a race in Norway (Rockman SwimRun and Kristins Race Report) with an awesome racecourse; swimming in the fjords and running in the mountains attracts me so much and I hope there will be more races like this in the future!

A busy day of family training! (Picture: Thule)
 Runssel: Your husband Daniel Hansson and yourself delivered one of the most exciting SwimRun performances during the Engadin SwimRun this year. You won the overall race by more than 10 minutes and left everyone speechless with a new course record. Looking back, was this the “perfect day” for the two of you? 

Kristin: Sure we had a good day. We had mainly been focusing on Multisport in June as we were racing the open European Championship in Are the weekend before Engadin. We could do the race with no pressure and both of us managed to keep the speed up and push hard all the way. I like Engadin a lot as it is like running and swimming in a fairy tale. It is an extremely beautiful environment.

Kristin and Daniel stormed to a record setting win at the 2016 Ötillö Engadin SwimRun. This was also the first time a women took the overall victory in a SwimRun race. (Picture: Private)
 Runssel: With ÖtillÖ in a few weeks’ time you must be very busy training. How does a typical week of training look like in the build up? How often do you train on the course? Do you have any special SwimRun workouts? 

Kristin: With 2 weeks left to ÖtillÖ I will focus on keeping healthy (our son is in the Kindergarten). We had three sessions on the racecourse during the last weekend, as we want to have an overview of the course but also because it is great fun to be out in the archipelago. I don’t follow a schedule and my training is always subject to everyday life; Transport training to/from work, training at lunch and/or evening depending on how/when it works in combination with work and family. My training sessions are mainly running, kayaking, biking or swimming. During summer time and race season I try to do some block training and SwimRun sessions.

Runssel: As a mother of a young boy how long did it take you to get back into serious training? 

Kristin: I was lucky to not encounter any bigger problems during my pregnancy and could keep some light training all the way to labour (which actually started while I was out biking). After giving birth to my son I focused on training my core muscles before anything else. I had no stress or specific dates set when to be back racing and that helped me to make a steady progress with no drawbacks.

Daniel leading Kristin out of the cold waters during the Utö SwimRun (Picture: Jakob Edholm)
Runssel: How do you combine your daily family life with training and racing? 

Kristin: It’s important to find the balance between family, work and training. Daniel and me help each other to find time for training but we do also often combine family time with training. Our Thule Chariot buggy has been very well used the last two years. It’s not that much harder to find time for training when you have kids, but it’s definitely much harder to find time for rest and recovery.

Runssel: With such a busy life, do you find the time for some non-sport hobbies?

Kristin: I love to be in the mountains and I wish I had more time just hiking in the mountains and take in the views with no stress. At the same time I think I can do more of that when I’m older so I’m taking the opportunity to run now when I can do it and as long as I think it is fun!

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Follow Kristin online via her website and her Instagram.

Kristin is supported by the following companies:

Main Sponsor:
ADDNATURE

Other Sponsors and Partners:
HEAD Swimming Nordic
ACCESSREHAB
X-KROSS
SPECIALIZED
NORDIC KAYAKS
CYKLOTEKET

INSTAssel: Ekiden!

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The 10th version of a fast Classic - Mizuno Wave Ekiden!

Tune of the day: Stickle - Agua

Monday, 22 August 2016

INSTAssel: Walchensee Vibes

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Some leisure strokes after a busy weekend training in and around the stunning Walchensee.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

INSTAssel: By the rivers of Schwabylon

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Summer is back in our neck of the woods. Great evening exploring the local rivers with the lads! [Pic: @ohjourdhui]

Tune of the day: Kamakazee - Snakes

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Monday, 15 August 2016

Racereport 2016-08: Rockman SwimRun

„Man, I was so tired all week. Today was probably the first day I felt almost recovered.” I’m on the phone to my Rockman co-player Alan. A week after the 2016 version of the fjord-based SwimRun competition in around the Lysefjorden, a stunning creek situated in the Ryfylke region in south-western Norway, the 14 swims and 14 runs produced some tired bodies and minds.

More or less I’m pleased to hear that I’m not the only one that suffers with post-race lethargy. The same day I was chatting to Alan, my girlfriend woke me up after 16 (!) hours of delightful snooze business. Although such a sleeping-routine was no problem back in my teenager days it is something I never ever believed I’m still capable off these days - Rockman left quite an impression.

Photo: Matti Rapila Andersson Photography
With the iconic Norseman Triathlon as well as the prominent Tromso Skyrace on the race-schedule, Norway was busy hosting three very characteristic and appreciated Extreme endurance competitions on one weekend. On the ship to the 2014 ÖtillÖ race we met the Clapham Bruderwunderz, Alan and Hamish from London. Lastly it was time to assemble a Brotherly SwimRun bound as we formed the Clapham Sparkle Party. 35 kilometres of running and 6 kilometres of swimming seemed to be a good outing.

It was still dark when we left our hotel on race morning. Tired faces all around as two ferryboats left the peaceful Stavanger harbour towards Fantahålå in the middle of the Lysefjorden. Unlike last year, the start procedure got altered. No water start this year. Straight in from the back of the vessels. We lined up and after a short and distinctive horn beep it was on. The crystal clear fjord waters were icy but not unpleasant. Swiftly the race got stretched out. It was interesting to see how a SwimRun competition reveals when the first discipline is a lengthier swim. We whirled into a little bay, around a buoy and trailed the imposing rock faces.

Alan and myself after the 1600 meter swim. (Photo: Jonas Demnert)
950 meters later 3-4 teams were already a couple of meters ahead. Alan and myself swam in the big chasing pack. We left the fjord with a bunch of crews and climbing commenced straight away. Proper scrambling. No running. The course contour was sharp for a reason. 2800 meters of elevation have to be gained somewhere. Throughout the first portion of the race there was no real flat part. Deep and technical mud trails were winding through stunning thick woodland. Norway’s magnificence became imminent.

On a course that was well marked at all times and “…totally logical” as Jan Kriska fittingly stated afterwards, we had trouble finding the next swim section. In the end we just scrambled down the woods in the direction of the pond as we spotted other contenders in the lake. A mere of 600 meters later we came closer and closer to the first climax of the course – the Preikestolen. The nearly flat 25 by 25 metre plateau sits on the north side of the fjord and is a tourist magnet. On the way up we encountered numerous hikers and the 604 meter elevation left its mark. I hurt. It was rigid and technical running/hiking up the unreasonable stony paths. Still the impressive scenery took the eyes off.

Photo: Matti Rapila Andersson Photography
Checkpoint number 2 was located on top of the Preikestolen. We took the time to take a holidaymaker portrait with Slovakian Team Kriska. Got some food in and went straight back down the peak. Whereas the running down the rocky trails was technical and challenging, the subsequent part through the forest was nothing less of impressive. Looking back it was exciting to run in such a landscape. By now tired, the main focus was the path and all the natural obstacles. It was pretty hard to get bored. A longish scramble along the trails was just broken up by a little swim across a very icy lake. We ran on. Had another great view across the Lysefjorden. We met the Rockman himself, who frightened the sxxx out of me when he suddenly stood beside the trail screaming. That  downhill was fun. But the tired legs did not like it. Eventually we arrived back at the shoreline. Brattli checkpoint offered much needed food and drinks. A 1600 meter swim along the coastline was next.

We jumped in from the little pier and found our rhythm fast. Alan was the pacemaker and I struggled in the back. During this section we reeled in more and more teams. We arrived a couple of minutes later at Bakken Kai to a partying spectator boat. With the infamous “Seaside Sprint” approaching we knew we had to focus on the trail. While creating the course, the organisers titled the 2 kilometre run section “Sprint”. They thought it was just a little transition run to the next swim. Little did they know. We climbed and jumped across rock blocks to reach another checkpoint and the only tarmac section of the course.

Photo: Matti Rapila Andersson Photography
Running on a tarmac road felt fine. We plugged away nicely but my energy level went lower and lower. The backroads were curving and mostly uphill. I had a hard time. Occasional views around the area gave us the first glimpse of the infamous 4444 Flørli Stairs. A set of steep steps going straight up the mountain on the other side of the fjord. We joked about it. Another steep downhill. I was happy to see the water again at the Kasaklubben Checkpoint. We reached the swim entry with Simon Björnholm and Pontus Flingdal. We went back and forth with this guys for big parts of the race. After the usual banter we swam on. 1700 meters across the fjord. A very choppy section. 

It was long. But eventually we arrived. Flørli harbour was rocking. The incredible friendly and unique Rockman staff as well as the spectators made noise. We needed this encouraging dynamism. 4444 wooden steps were next. “500!” Alan shouted with a huge smile. I just shook my head. The way up the wodden steps was a long one. Counting was to demoralising so I tried to switch of. I put the head down and tried to move. Just move. Move with an empty tank. “Now, let’s fake a smile!” Alan again. There was a photographer waiting at the top. I grinned as I recognised the end was close.

Photo: Matti Rapila Andersson Photography
I did not really recognise the next swim section. I was cold. No surprise. When we exited on the other side of the lake there was a guy waiting with hot coffee. What a legend. But the scrambled continued with some coffin in the veins. We met the “Rockman Angels” on top and cruised on back to Flørli. I was not angry that we could not run across the Dragons Neck trail. The bad weather made it impossible to run this section of the course.

Despite the fact that I still suffered a good bit on the plateau I gained back some momentum on the technical downhill back to the finish line. We passed some teams and also our Swedish/Norwegian friends Simon and Pontus. These guys showed a lot of character and sportsmanship as they stepped aside and made way for us as we passed them. SwimRun spirit at its best. Alan and I had so much fun running down this part of the course. Everything was aching and sore. But we loved every step. It was all smiles as we arrived in Flørli as the ninth team.

Photo: Rockman Crew
Rockman is a character. The course is wild. Really wild. On the finish line I shook my head in disbelief. Now I look back with only positive memories. The Rockman crew shaped a unique and exclusive happening. Together with their crew of helpers it is a race to remember. So many positive vibes. Keep it just that way. Takk Norge. Takk Rockman.

Tune of the day: Kno – Bones

Sunday, 14 August 2016

shoeporn: Mizuno - Wave Sayonara 4

さような! Now in its 4th version – Mizuno’s steadfast and fresh Wave Sayonara. Say “goodbye” (=sayōnara) to slow racing and training!
I enjoyed the sprightly cushioning that the so-called U4iC midsole and its blown rubber provide.
The Wave Sayonara 4 bids a wide-ranging variety of speeds and distances. A solid and performance orientated lightweight trainer that also likes to compete. Runners get a fitting 10mm offset for a neutral ride and fast-paced training sessions.
Stack Height: 28mm on the hell and 18mm on the forefoot.
A crisp and elegant designed mesh upper looks good and is pretty comfy!
A no-thrills sole and a proven standard style within Mizuno. A sole unit that provides the “Uaic” midsole with the “Parallel Wave” technology.
Back in 1906 Rihachi Mizuno found the company in Osaka, Japan. A couple of years later they hit the market with the first running shoe.
You’ll get a straightforward performance neutral running shoe best suited for up-tempo or daily training.
The standard Mizuno emblem is situated on the medial and lateral sides of the shoe.
A pleasant and “airy” webbing offers a lot of breathability. I liked it a lot during hot summer runs.
X10 located in the heel and forefoot is made of durable carbon rubber for enhanced traction.
Blown rubber in the forefoot increases cushioning and responsiveness.
I would describe the forefoot segment of the Wave Sayonara 4 medium to narrow.
Thumbs up for a driving and steadfast shoe - I liked the speed range and the comfort this shoe offers.

all pictures (C) runssel

Tune of the day: Optical - Slip Thru

Friday, 12 August 2016

INSTAssel: Morgondopp

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Some easy early morning sparkle with the gang!

Tune of the day: Beginner - Es war einmal

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A Closer Look at the new Hoka One One - Tracer

It is not only about going maximum with the Hoka One One chaps. Furthermore than being lightweight (165 gram!), the newest Tracer bids the famed Hoka One One pillow to a shoe that has the attitude of a lightweight training shoe, possibly also the one of a road racing flat. Now we are talking business.

As the look blends perfectly into the Hoka One One scheme, the sole of this modell doesn’t. With its comparably low stack height of 17 mm forefoot and 21 mm at the heel (we are talking an offset of 4 mm…) the alteration to the other models is apparent.

With its approach to less cushioning and more dynamic while not loosing the typical bounce and the celebrated comfort level the Hoka One One Tracer could be a interesting introduction for runners to the companies approach towards running shoes. Fans of the brand have a proper minimal shoe to race and train with.

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All pictures above (C) Runssel

More Hoka One One Reviews on this site:

Hoka One One - Clayton
Hoka One One - Challenger ATR 2
Hoka One One - Speedgoat
Hoka One One - Huaka
Hoka One One - Clifton 2

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

INSTAssel: Preikestolen Posing


A special place, a special race and very special people! 50% of The German Sparkle Party and 50% of the legendary Clapham Bruderwunderz teamed up to take on the infamous Rockman SwimRun past Saturday. This picture with the Kriska Hooligans was taken 604 metres above the Lysefjorden at the Preikestolen plateau. We started the race in the fjord and travelled all the way down to the 4444 wooden steps of Flori. Such a rad race.

Sunday, 7 August 2016