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The Transgrancanria Advanced 2017

The Transgrancanaria Advanced is a 82 kilometres run thatĀ covers 4.300 metres of positive elevation gain onĀ Gran Canaria in Spain. I spend several months preparing forĀ this event by runningĀ hundreds of kilometres up and down the westĀ coast of Sweden.Ā Zick-zackingĀ aroundĀ iceĀ blocksĀ strandedĀ at the beach became my early morning routine. But all the training paid off and I felt pretty confident about my gaol in finishing the race below twelve hours. So I hopped on a plane toĀ Germany from where I continued my journey toĀ Ā Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with some friends.

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Ice block at the beach on the west coast of Sweden.

We arrived one week beforeĀ the Transgrancanaria to give us some rest and acclimatise to the weather. The seconds day after arrival, we headed outĀ for a short run to check out some localĀ trails. And then it happened. I twisted my ankle and it swell pretty bad.Ā Starting atĀ theĀ Transgrancanaria AdvancedĀ was in doubt. Follow my friends advise, who is a physiotherapist,Ā Ā I started severalĀ sessions of icing and heating in combinationĀ with special mobilising exercises daily. The swelling went down and I tookĀ a compromise: I was going to hike the raceĀ and drop out as soon as I feel pain.

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Roque Nublo on Gran Canaria in Spain.

A few days later,Ā theĀ Transgrancanaria Advanced started in Fontanales at 7am. The atmosphere at the starting line wasĀ amazing. Nothing I had ever seen before.Ā Ā Heading off through the narrow streets, lots ofĀ people alongsideĀ cheered as I disappeared with the other runners into the dawn. Every 10 to 15 kilometres, my friendsĀ check up on me to see how my ankle is doing. Surprisingly, it went pretty well. I kept going following the course passedĀ Roque Nublo all the way to the highest point at Pico de las Nieves. From there, I could even see the neighbouring island Teneriffa with itsĀ 3,718 metres high volcano. But then it was time to drop out to giveĀ my ankle some rest. DespiteĀ all the time and effort I put into training for this race, I didĀ not make it to the finish line. That made me feel pretty sad, but there was nothing I could do about it. Now, I am rehabilitatingĀ my ankle’s mobility andĀ strength and cannot waitĀ for myĀ next upcoming race.

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Teneriffa with its 3,718 metres high volcano in the distance.Ā 

 

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Running on Mt. Etna

In October 2016, my personal running season came to a successful end. Back in Sweden,  long training sessions along the icy-cold beach at the coastline awaited me. How was I supposed to stay motivated to go for training runs before breakfast? That is when a friend asked if I want to run on Mt. Etna in December. The idea was to plan an ambitious project that keeps us pushing during the dark winter hours. After some research, we picked a route from the sea all the way to the summit; an estimated 30 kilometres distance with an elevation gain of 3,500 metres. It was the perfect challenge and we decided to give it a try. So we booked flights to Italy, made sure we were properly acclimatised, and had enough rest prior to the run.

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When checking the weather the night before the challenge, our plans started to fall apart. The temperature on the summit was going to drop down to -20Āŗ Celsius. Reaching the top was not our main objective anymore. Running above 2,500 metres was going to be extremely difficult for us. Snow and ice dominated the upper part of Mt. Etna. Back to the map, we sketched out a new route until late that night. Early next day, we started somewhere outside of Catania. The course went only uphill from there. First, we had to tackle some 500 metres of elevation gain on technical terrain.  Then, the rocky trail turned into an icy ridge. Easy trail running became strenuous climbing. It took hours to cover short distances. We faced the truth and abandoned our project midway. Instead of climbing further up, we finished at the Rifugio Giovanni Sapienza. Over a cup of coffee, we enjoyed the spectacular sunset before heading down to Catania by car. We failed but I promise to come back Mt. Enta!