Nordic Island Adventure Race

Race Report

The plan for the spring was a little bit different to what it ended up like. But isn’t that what often happening?

Instead of the first Skyrace for the season (that we had trained for), we stayed in Sweden and packed our UD-packs for a 24-hour Adventure race around Stockholm and the Archipelago. The race included 35 k of kayaking, 45 k of trekking/running, 70 k of mountain biking, some rope skills and also secret stages. That is what Adventure racing is all about. Surprises out on the course!

What differed this race from other races we have done was that we had created a women team, we called ourselves Team 4W. Referring both to a strong 4wheel driver and 4 cool women, (or 4 winners if you want).

Our main goal was to have a great time, not thinking too much about speed. And we really manage to have fun throughout the race. Maria Kolk was the navigator, Sue la Paz was the second help navigator, and Lina and I the carrier for some extra kgs and remind everyone to eat and drink regularly.

The atmosphere is always very good around Adventure Races. People are excited, like minded enthusiastic people eager to explore and discover what the human body can manage. It is a material sport for sure, but that’s a part of the whole thing. Planning, packing and structure both clothing, equipment and food/beverages for the hours waiting.

We used the duffle bags as Transition area boxes with energy and equipment for every stage. The first hours were prologues with 4 loops around the TA before heading out for the real race. All teams started in different order of the loops. We ran a fast sprint orienteering, then changed to an underground orienteering in a garage parking, jumping over fences and zig zagging between cars. We were very energized and in a good mood, since we had the world’s strongest AR team just minutes in front of us, so we felt very fast.

The 3d loop, Lina and I repelled down Globe Hotel. I like the rope activities, and want to learn and do more climbing. Can we all have more time?!
4th loop Maria and Sue got the heaviest task to carry a 25 L tank with us. We carried their backpacks. We all understood what men are for in teams… But it was an important part since it made us all understand how much girls in Africa have to carry to get water. NIAR coorporated with WaterAid.

After that we jumped on our bikes. Maria navigated good on the forests around there since she went to school there in her teens. There was a part running orienteering, and also biking in the same area. The hours float away and we had tons of fun. I liked both the easy biking trails and really enjoyed the more technical ones too. It was a very hot day, but we were good on reminding each other to drink.

After sweating and experiencing the first real summer day of the year, we were happy to start the kayak leg. People enjoyed the nice weather by the water and because of this we got many cheering on us. Along the canal out towards the open sea was very beautiful. Though with two portages with veeery heavy kayaks. We had to carry one kayak at a time, and ran back to get the other one. Smart solution, but took a bit longer time. :P

Naturally when we came out on the sea, more waves and winds embraced us, and on the checkpoint just outside Grand Hotel we changed to jackets and trousers. I had my second outburst of laughter. Candy really makes you feel high when you have been low, sugar kicks in in a second. 😉

Through the dark we navigated a bit wrong, but ended up kayaking just beside a beach party with some ABBA- music that we could sing a long to, and the sunset with amazing colors in front of our eyes. This was the best part of the whole race. I think we all can agree to that. It was like kayaking IN a painting!

We left the kayaks for an hour, circulating with other teams with our headlamps, up and down steep and rough terrain on an island searching for two tricky checkpoints. Though I think we nailed it pretty fast, but our transition after the kayak to trekking was slow, but I guess that was just because we were laughing and talking too much. We ran for about half an hour to a fireplace where we had to wait 40 minutes for our turn to enter a cave, and then climb up a rope ladder and abseil down a cliff. It was nice by the fire to dry or bib, chitchat with other teams, eat some tortellini and potatoes with pesto that we had brought. Maria had crawled the cave another time, and talked us through it. It was very narrow and technical, we followed just a tiny little rope to find our way. But knowing that big boys had come though made it just feel totally okay, even though I try to avoid tight places whenever I can. The rope ladder straight up was cool, I would have like to do more such things!

From the fire place we paddled on mattresses over to where we had 30k to run to the finish. This long trekking stage was neither fun, impressive or so, just transport to the finish line. We carried our life jackets, paddles, harnesses with carabiners too, so a bit heavy. And the sunrise made us sweat and be really thirsty again.

The last hour we ran out of food. And it felt as our feet were burning when it was so hot. The last checkpoint was up Hammarbybacken (Stockholm’s skislope). And by then I felt we had had a really great race together as 4 strong women. Winning the women category, since we were the only ones, haha, but 6th place wasn’t too bad either.

Girls are killing it!