Sunday, 16 July 2017

On point with Lars Ekman

Brothers Lars and Jonas Ekman have quite some similarities. Growing up in Lagga, a little town just 65 kilometres north of Stockholm, the duo successfully swam on national level for Upsala Simsällskap. Furthermore both are doctors and pretty gifted Swimrunners. Best-known as the “Ekman brothers” or under their official team name “Bröderna Bäver” (the Beaver Brothers), it seems like both know how to have fun and win races. Lars and Jonas won ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Utö back in 2016 and finished 2nd this year. Just a couple of days ago the brothers blitzed the difficult high altitude course across the Engadin valley to win the prestigious ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Engadin. While recovering, Lars found time to response to some questions.

Runssel: Congratulations on your victory at this year’s Engadin SwimRun. Beating a heavy-duty Flinta and Olsson duet by almost 13 Minutes is impressive. As you took the lead quite early, how did the race unfold for you guys? When did you know you had this "in the bag"?
Lars Ekman: Our game plan was to start at a moderate pace, as not to push ourselves to hard uphill in the beginning. However I think we both felt strong from the start and when we got an early lead we just kept pushing it. So the game plan changed quite quickly.
Since we knew that the teams chasing us were really strong teams, and very good long distance teams, we did not feel that we had the race "in the bag" until at the end of the second last run. We started to feel confident coming towards the longest swim, 1400m, where we were told that we had a 6 min lead and we knew we were stronger in the water compared to the other teams.

Picture: Jakob Edholm

Runssel: In a quite new sport the equipment is always a discussion point. What gear do you use? Did you make any special alterations towards the Engadin race?
Lars: We use Sailfish wetsuits which we like since they have a lot of extra pockets for storing gels and energy. They are also easy to take on and off quickly during the race and work great for both swimming and running. We have been testing a lot of different shoes and so far not decided on any brand. However we both like them to be very light and right now we are starting to use vivobarfoot which most likely will be the ones we use for Ötillö.
Otherwise we like to keep it clean with just paddles and a small buoy to make transitions as easy as possible. We have been working a bit with Olanderswim where we find most of our extra equipment such as paddles and buoys.

Picture: Jakob Edholm

Runssel: As a full-time working doctor you need to fit your training around job and family. How does a typical training week look for you leading up to the big races? How often do you train with your brother?
Lars: I just started working as an AT doctor in Karlskrona at Blekingesjukhuset. And as you say both me and my brother need to train when our schedules allow us to. I try to get 6-7 training sessions per week. 3 swim, 3 run and one other(gym, core strength) the trick is to do the quality sessions when I'm not to tired after work so I try to get at least 3 quality sessions per week which are the ones I plan the most and focus on. The other training sessions I fit whenever I can. Leading up to the big races I just try to get some good sleep, stay healthy and not train to hard. Usually I rest the last two days before a long race.

Picture: Irina Kurmanaeva

Runssel: It seems that you guys have established the mustache as a team talisman. Who’s idea was this and what makes competing with your brother special?
Lars: Haha... we both like the mustache as a fun gimmick however I think I was the first one to have it. But competing with my brother is always great. And I feel very fortunate to be able to share this with him. We both have ups and downs during the races but we are always able to push and help each other the extra mile which is great, and important if you want to be in the top. So running with my brother is the best part of Swimrun and always feels like a win.

Picture: Jakob Edholm

Runssel: With a time of 8:28:14 you finished 5th at last year’s ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship. What did you guys learn from the race and what is the goal for this year?
Lars: We learned a lot after our first Ötillö together last year. I think we'll be better prepared this year both for us and the goal is to win. It will be very hard with a lot of good teams going for it, however if we have a good day we feel confident that we have a good chance to come out on top.

Runssel: Your sporting undertakings are not only SwimRun linked. Do you have any other exciting competitions coming up?
Lars: This year it actually is mostly Swimrun due to the lack of time working full-time as a doctor. But I still try to do Vasaloppet in the spring and maybe some obstacle-races if I have the time.

Runssel: Do you currently have a favorite record you are listening to?
Lars: I'm a Bruce Springsteen fan so anything with the Boss works!

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