Race report SUM 2016

Race report SUM 2016

Sörmland Ultra Marathon is a 48km race from Björkhagen to Handen in Stockholm, some parts are on the Sörmlandsleden (sörmlands trail) and the rest is gravel and asphalted road. I ran Sörmlandsleden by myself two years ago with a lot of packing, just for fun, but this is the first time I run SUM.

I decided last minute to join the race. I haven’t been running much at all since CCC, read my report here, and the longest run was 13k. Now to compete in 48k wasn’t the best idea but I had no expectations, I thought of it more as a long training run with other people.

I got to Björkhagen early, since pre registration was closed I had to join at the start. It was a cold morning and I was among the first people there, and that includes the organizers. Almost nothing was ready when I got there and I had doubts they would be able to pull it off in less than two hours. I stood around for a while before I was able to register and then I headed to the locker room, had some yoghurt and a banana. Changed clothes in no rush at all, watched other runners slowly fill the locker room. With about ten minutes left I headed for the start, left my bag for transport and did some warm up runs. To my surprise everything was ready. It was a cold morning but I didn’t want to wear a lot of clothes, it’s better having to put on an extra shirt than to have to remove clothing after a while. I did wear my rain jacket from start though, since it was blowing cold winds.

map of the route

people running at the start Photo by Maria Viberg

The start

We were off and I’m way up front as usual, I always try to get a good position in the start. It’s more fun and have some advantages in the beginning when it tends to be crowded. I felt right away my lack of training the last couple of months, I had trouble keeping speed but I kept pushing a bit further, I felt pretty good considering. After a few kilometers I removed my rain jacket and let body heat take over the job.

“I had to slow down the pace a bit but it didn’t matter much, I knew something like this would happen.”

The first part follows Sörmlandsleden and I remembered most bits from my run two years ago. After about 12km my left hamstring and butt started to act up and soon the right side would follow. I had to slow down the pace a bit but it didn’t matter much, I knew something like this would happen. It was cold and my legs weren’t used to running. Nothing to dwell on, just keep on going and it will sort itself out. I didn’t even stop when I reached the first checkpoint, I was carrying half a litre of water and some gels and blocks, I just ran passed it.

trees and water along the route

The middle part

Next up was the mountain price and som asphalted road and that means we’ve left Sörmlandsleden now and I no longer recognize my surroundings. I had no idea there would be so much road running prior to the race and it’s not in my favour. I’m good at technical terrain and running downhill, not asphalted and gravel road. I kept on going, stopped at the second checkpoint and grabbed some sports drink and some chocolate, which was more or less frozen but still good.

I didn’t feel very good during this parts, a lot of bad thoughts about it being stupid to run this far right now but it was mostly because of the road running, I really don’t like road running and especially not when I know there’s an excellent trail not far in the woods. I noticed someone was cheering on me next to the track but I didn’t recognize her at first, but the next time I saw her she said my name and then pieces fell in place, it was of course Sara, a friend I met during Swedish Alpine Ultra last year. It turns out her boyfriend Jonathan (who also ran Swedish Alpine Ultra) was running too. As always it felt nice to see a friendly face along the trail.

me and someone else mid race Photo by Fredrik Stridsman

The end

After the next checkpoint a sign said 42,2km but my watch only said 41,2km. I was overrun with joy, my watch had to be wrong since the sign before this one said 40km and my watch 39km. 1km isn’t much but it’s a nice surprise to have 1km less left than you thought. The finish line wasn’t far off now and we were back at Sörmlandsleden. I grabbed a couple of pieces of chocolate at the next checkpoint and kept on going.

When I reached the field where the finish was located I realized my watch wasn’t wrong at all, the signs were wrong. There’s a last checkpoint, that I ignored totally, and went out on the last little loop around a small lake before going back to the field. I was pretty much done now, my legs were tired and my mind too. There are a couple of grueling hills during the last loop before going down to the finish line. I finished 52 in 4:46:36 and that’s ok, I just wanted to get some milage in my legs and finish under five hours.