The Arctic Triple

Lofoten Stage Run 2024 Race Report

  • Lina writes about the two first stages and Sanna about the two last.*
  • All photos in this post is from Ian Corless

If you complete The Arctic Triple, you have done a skimo race, an ultra and a triathlon, together the courses cover most of the Lofoten Islands. We have done the Lofoten Skimo, which takes place in March every year. Probably we will try the 100 miles one day, the triathlon not so sure, first we have to learn how to crawl properly. However now the new stage run took place, it is basically the 100 miles course divided into 4 sections. I would say this would suit more people than 100 miles because you have time to rest.

The start of the Lofoten stage run is in Reine in the end of Lofoten. Everyone enters a boat into Kirkefjorden and from there you will by own machine take yourself all the way to Svolvaer over mountain passes, along fjords and beaches, through bogs and over ridges, technical passages, nice single tracks, wide trails and roads via Kvalvika, Fredvang, Nusfjord, Napp, Leknes, Brustranda and the Vikingmuseum to mention a few.

We were a little group who had signed up for the first edition, everyone very excited. Lina and I, dare I say, were the only experienced of this type of terrain and distance, but everyone was in good spirits, and completed the challenge on their own capacity. We stayed in cute old but renovated fishermen huts, cottages by the fjords and camping huts. We got breakfast and dinner, not to our surprises, fish every time, but who would have liked to eat anything else when by the sea? We got trout, bacalao and even whale! (I’ll come back to that one…)

The nice couple Jonne and Ottilie were making a documentary of the Arctic Triple and were following us during the stage run. It was very fun to have them popping up here and there along the courses. We also got their GoPro to document a little bit ourselves too. It was easy to have it nearby in my waist belt.

This year we have chosen places that are more like Scandinavia, a bit rough and mixed terrain and with temperatures our bodies can handle. Though it seems that the sun likes us! When we went to Wales it was a heat wave, the sun kept on shining when we went to Scotland. May at home in Åre was like high summer and now when coming to Lofoten it was the same.

But we are definitely not complaining! It has been some fantastic days, and we are so grateful. Discovering new places and having a good time is without doubt better with good weather. The days prior to the race we tried to take it a bit easy though, to not be destroyed when we were going to run about a marathon each day for four days. Biking, easy runs, taking dips in the ocean, reading and going to cafes had us occupied.

On Tuesday afternoon we met the others who also would run the stage run. We met in Svolvaer where we would finish on Saturday. Now we took a bus all the way down to Reine for our start the next day. The bus ride itself was entertaining. The views are incredible and built up even more excitement. We will run through this! Majestic mountains, beautiful valleys, white sand beaches, cute fishing villages and fjords with turquoise water.

It was one group that ran 170 kilometer in total and the other 130 kilometer in total on this stage run. The two first days were the same and then the two last, the 130 k runners got a bus ride about half way in.

After briefing, a nice dinner and getting to know some of the others we all went to bed in the picturesque Rorbuer (the huts in Lofoten).

Day 1

34 Kilometers

Next morning no stress, we had luxury breakfast and then an amazing boat ride to Kyrkefjord for our start at 11.

I love that this is a part of the whole experience. It’s not just a race and a course you will run, it’s all the things around! So special. I was not nervous at all. I was just looking forward to go out running in this stunning environment. And like everyone else, we didn’t see this as a proper race, it’s more like a challenging experience where you can push if you want and feel like it and enjoy and look at the views when you feel like it.

It’s definitely the most beautiful location I’ve been on for a start line.

Me, Sanna and Johan Cajdert, also running with Merrell, seemed to be the fastest in the field, and that was also how it was for the rest of the week. A familiar and easy start, just as I remember from Lofoten Skimo last year, where everyone is there just to have a great day out, pushing or not.

We all enjoyed the trail that lead us into a magnificent valley, the three of us shouted with joy when bouncing on the soft ground that now would take us to the fjord on the other side. Suddenly we heard someone screaming and it was Ian Coreless, (the photographer whom we meet all over the world on races like this). Apparently, we had missed a flag, our way was straight right up the mountain and not into the valley. Thank you, Ian! This was not the first time taking some extra meters, on this course you better have a watch or phone with the Gpx-file since it’s not marked very tight all the time. But we got used to this and it made it a bit more adventurous!

We had some fun scrambling, sliding down snow fields and got wet bogs to conquer. I couldn’t really find any good flow and was struggling a bit. I had been ill the week before and could still feel some fatigue and irritation in my nose. Sanna and Johan disappeared in front, and I trotted along by myself on the surprisingly technical trail, which I really liked. We passed some beautiful lakes and finally reached the famous Kvalvika beach. I was in a good mood but hadn't found any power in my body, so in a short period of time I took two gels, one with caffeine and one without. And that made a huge difference!

I often feel more energized and ”warmed up” 2-3 hours into a race, and I was confident in the beginning too that the feeling would change. So happy it did. I also met Jonne, who cheered me on, that for sure also makes a difference. It was a lot of people on the beach, but I could easily find Sannas bright white t-shirt on the hill on the other side and also Johans bright orange vest. The hunt began!

My strength is often trails uphill and this part felt so good! I felt strong and motivated and full of joy. The views were spectacular and since we kind of ran in and out from a small river, the heat didn’t bother me. That’s great when running in the mountains in Norway and Sweden when it’s hot, there is always water somewhere to soak yourself! Since I recently ran both The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and the 50 K in Snowdonia in Wales in burning sun, I know how important it is to not just drink water and electrolytes, but also soak yourself to cool down.

I soon passed Johan in the climb who looked a bit tired (I later knew he got some intense cramps in his legs when running down). Opposite to me who had the run of my life! It was sooo fun and I couldn’t stop smiling when hopping down the trail, criss crossing between people heading up. THIS is the feeling I want to have while running and racing! You feel unstoppable, capable to jump up and down big rocks, speeding up on flat sections and feeling joy in both head and body. I’ll try to keep that feeling for other races this season.

On to the road I had a good flow and was happy with my energy intake. Years before I have been bad at drinking and fueling enough on races, which I believe gave me these INTENSE and horrible stomach aches, especially when running downhill and flat. But I’m getting much better at this!

Reaching the aid station where Gunhild, the amazing woman who fixed everything for us runners, had prepared snacks, drinks and cheered me on. She seemed surprised to see Sanna and me in the lead, but we actually we were just racing each other since the others did this as a challenge and experience. We did too, but we like racing and going as fast as we can as well 😉

Some long kilometers on road waited. The sun gave no mercy but at least we got some nice ocean winds to feel better. I run mostly trails but have also starting to enjoy some flat and fast road running. It’s nice to get in a running flow and think about form and posture. (but yeah, honestly, in the long run it gets extremely boring!)

I could see Sanna some hundred meters in front of me and here I knew I had a good chance to catch her. So I did. I felt good and kept my own pace. Jonne and Ottillie drove just in front to get a good video of me running, so I had to try to speed up a bit.

In the end of the road, we got into a trail again and I could feel I maybe ran a bit too fast for my own best. Sanna directly caught up and was high on energy. I wondered how she could be so fit suddenly. Later I learned she had taken a Caffeine bar and again, it makes a huge difference! It was ”only” three kilometers left, so first I thought it was unnecessarily to eat anything so close to the finish, but I was hungry and tired and didn’t want to lose Sanna again, so eating was the right thing to do. I could keep up. We had a great time now running on the trail in a section beside the ocean that at the same time felt a bit like jungle!

We decided to finish together, and it was wonderful. Finishing in Nusfjord, by the fishing cabins, we jumped straight into the water which we had longed for the whole day. And what a day! It had everything!

Johan came a while after and also had a great experience despite the cramps. The rest of the field underestimated Lofoten terrain I believe, and some had a real struggle. But we were all gathered in the evening, and it was clear for some to shorten the other days that suited best for them.

I felt I was not fully recovered after my illness and was totally knocked out in the bed for some hours, but after that I was better!

The hut was fantastic, the food was too, but very much too fine dining for hungry ultra runners. It was a hilarious to see everyones expression when we got this piece of cod and one asparagus on our plate for dinner. WHERE ARE OUR CARBS!? Everyone screamed inside. Luckily there were still bread buns and bananas left at the finish line, so one could sneak there to not be hungry during the night. Everyone was fine.

Day 2

30 Kilometers.

Next day was an early start at 8 compared to the first day. I actually prefer later starts so you have time to wake up and digest breakfast, but it’s also good to have enough time to run and have time to recover after the runs.

It was a great atmosphere in the start again, everyone happy with their choice of distance this time. The trio took off together again and I felt directly Sanna had more power today as well. When heading uphill I was imagining a cord between us, so instead of letting her slip away, I tried to make it feel like she was pulling me. It worked pretty well, so that’s a tip if you don’t want to lose the one you have in front of you 😉

The course today was not as spectacular as the day before, but still beautiful. We ran long sections by the ocean which definitely didn’t feel like we were in Norway! The three of us had company most of the time but at one point where you had to be a bit cautious to not fall down a cliff you had to go one by one down. Sanna took her chance here to run off and didn’t even take a glimpse back to see if I managed to get down. It made me a bit frustrated. Not that she ran away in her own speed, but that she didn’t care. OK let’s race!

I again ran by myself but was in hunting mode, that is very motivating! It’s for sure often more fun to run with company, but it’s also important to listen to your own feelings and have some time out there by yourself. I did catch both Johan and Sanna after some time but didn’t manage to shake her off either which was my first intention. But in the end, it felt just ridiculous since we had such a good time together and eventually with the same pace.

Some kilometers hopping on rocks before the final on tarmac where Johan ran away. Did not feel so great here so it was good for us it was five kilometers shorter than anticipated. The finish was amazing out on a pier with turquoise water around us and we could relax on the deck in the sun with simply pasta and salt in our bellies.

In the evening, we had a bus ride to a nice fish restaurant and got to eat whale. It looked like a big steak, but the texture was just a bit different... Maybe the boring pasta for lunch would have been slightly better loading for next stage. But then again, we would have missed the experience of testing whale on Lofoten.


57 Kilometers.

Eating whale was definitely interesting, but I must admit it wasn’t the best food for running. We were several people in the house that didn’t feel quite well next morning… The one, single toilet were working hard and the first hour of running was uncomfortable.

But off we went. 22 kilometers on road were ahead of us. Landowners had put out their sheep with lambs on the mountain and didn’t want them to get disturbed. Of course, all of us preferred the trails, but when we accepted it, the road section was pretty nice too. The first 12 was just to swallow on a big road with lot of cars and trucks. But once we entered a smaller road along the coast we could soak in the views and the ocean experience as the previous day.

It sounds strange. But The 22 k on road felt like a warmup. Once we hit the trails it was like a new course had started. Lina and I had been running together and continued to do so. We felt the best experience on this day, the longest of the 4 stages, 57 kilometer, would be most fun together. And actually, we also had the same speed. It wasn’t like any of us tried to run faster or fell behind.

We passed Johan and was on a very fun section of soft single trail going upwards to a ridge. We speed up and both were full of adrenaline and giggles. I used the GoPro for Jonne and felt like Linas personal runner videographer. The views were again unbelievable. Suddenly we heard whistling and shouts from behind. It was the 130k runners. They waved to us. Oh, we had missed the flags on the left trail and instead continued on the great trail forward with a beautiful Matterhorn look alike mountain in our endorphin rush. Thaaaanks again to you. If they hadn’t shouted to us, we would have continued very far on that trail.

The awesomeness continued and we cheered on the 130k runners and they un us all the way down a stunning ridge. Also, Jonne and Ottilie followed with a drone, which made it even more fun to run downhill, trying to make it look as easy as possible.

But then we came out on a gravel road and an asphalt road again. I hadn’t counted with this. And checked on the gps that showed we had another 10 k to go on it. 32 k road running?! After some minutes of frustration, I put on loud music on the phone. Benjamin Ingrosso, Better days. Which is a very good ultra running song. We played it on repeat the whole stretch and sang along and ran much, much faster that I would have done without it, and I had so much fun. It was nice to stretch out the legs and run with good posture and focus on that. After the aid station with proteinbolle, chips, coke with coffee and water refill, we climbed up the last mountain and once again giggled of happiness on single tracks on a rolling ridge with a panorama view. I shouted several times of happiness just to get the bubbling feeling out of my body, it has to explode somehow.

Even though we ran 57 k we didn’t want it to end, some parts of the course made me understand once again that running is so amazing for both body, soul and mind. As we came down to the finish, Brustranda Fjordcamping, we jumped directly into the water again, and then into the shower. What a day. Ended with a filling Bacalao.

All people that run the stage run were such a nice group. During breakfast, dinner and recoveries we had time to talk to everyone. This is really a big part of the stage run. To, gather, be social and share this experiences together. I'm so grateful to get to know so beautiful people from different parts of the world.


45 Kilometers

WHAT?! Already day four? We woke up and realized we didn’t want this fun adventure to be over. I could easily stay for another couple of weeks and get a route to run with aid stations, people cheering, sun in my faces surrounded by the most beautiful landscape I know. At least my head and mind could. But my legs and toes started to feel they need a rest day or two. I had also taped my ankle every day, which I twisted badly on PTL last summer. It is still very unstable and untreatable, so I do that when running in uneven terrain and on races. It was sore for sure but worked much better than predicted. I think many parts of everyone body was aching, that’s a thing with ultra running. But everyone had still wide smiles, or even brighter than in the beginning. Probably because they knew they would make it to the end.

I didn’t feel as strong in my body this day. I had energy and all that but wasn’t there 100%. But first 12 k in terrain was magical again. I haven’t words enough how fun and beautiful it is. You must experience it yourself. This day we also caught up with 100 milers that had started in Reine Friday at 12. They couldn’t really run at this point and most of them we passed were hiking. Which made me happy I had chosen the stage run, because we could run and enjoy, not get too destroyed. 100 miles is cool for sure, and also an experience, but I would strongly recommend a stage run instead.

Benjamin once again held our mood up on the road section and made us run faster. So fast that we missed the aid station which was inside a house. We only saw big flags but didn’t understand the aid station was inside. I would have been happy to have something from there but had also enough NÄAK stuff so could continue good. But my motivation sank a little bit as my nutrition planned didn’t work. But we passed a river, filled bottles and I took a caffeine bar and we continued with high spirits again up the mountain. The ridge was epic and mood high. Funny how energy and mood can go up and down like a mountain trail on an ultra. The body is funny. And the more impressions around you, the more you get filled with energy. How cool is that?! Laugh a lot out there and you will feel how much better it goes on your run. Heard later on that we are O2snappers, I will keep that in mind. And also, Råtasser. If you wanna hear it yourself, you better sign up for Loften stage run next year.

The big mountain section was very cool with the technical ridge, snow fields to slide under, mud party downhills, waterfalls and running beside a lake. This part felt a bit like skyrunning that we have done a lot of previous years. I miss it a bit, and will for sure enter more skyraces again.

Ian was of course there among the big rocks, taking some cool shots of us, trying to make us slow down, but hey, this was the most fun part!

When we came down from the mountain I had been so high, so it was time to hit the low a bit. I had some troubles when entering the final part and was close to cry, a mix of exhaustion, pain, happiness and other feelings. Long runs make us vulnerable and tipping on the very edge. We are both close to tears, laughs and love. And as Benjamin sang with me in Better days: ”Yeah, it’s gonna be a long run, but I’m gonna do my best, Yeah you can count on me ´til the end, just rely on my heart. ´Cause I feel in my bones that a change gonna come, gonna come, gonna come, Yeah, I see them better days ahead, We’re gonna make it there, Yeah I swear…” And it changed, the last kilometer it turned and my good running and smile came back again! We’re gonna make it there! 😃

The finish in Svolvaer is almost like the Lofoten skimo, you run on the harbor along all the fishing boats, into the main square and have to run around the square to reach the finish arch. It is a cool feeling. And I was So happy to have done Lofoten Stage run. It is more than just a race. I can’t tell, what, you really have to feel it yourself.

Thanks so much to Kristian, Frank, Gunhild, Ian, Johan and all the others on the event, DERE E RÅ ASSÅ!

Lina ran the whole stage run in Merrell Skyfire2 Matryx. I ran the two first days in Merrell Skyfire 2. Then Agility Peak 5. And the last day with Skyfire 2 Matryx.