We interviewed Anders Wallensten to discuss his race in Norway.
Hi Anders. You and Johanna come in fourth mixed on Rockman Swimrun in Norway in July, Congratulations!
We do short race reports go beyond the stats and give people a feeling for different races to help swim-runners pick races best suited for them. So to kick-off on this theme, how was the race? Can you describe it?
Well, the race was fantastic and demanding. The ascents, the rocky terrain and cold water made it different from the races I have done in Sweden. The scenery was magnificent. I truly love the Swedish archipelagos, but this was majestic in a different way. It was also well arranged and had a nice family feeling to it. The way it should be if you ask me. Some of the Swedish races are growing each year and risk losing that.
What do you think about the course?
For me and Johanna it was not ideal. Without mountains or even hills to train in before the race (in Blekinge) we did not have the edge on the running that we would have had in a flat race. The terrain was really mountainous and very rocky. Sometimes you needed to use both hands and feet to hold on and even on stretches that look nice and flat on the map there were obstacles like big boulders to scramble over. There is very little running on roads or even paths and the one 6km road stretch where we planned to race fast turned out to be a long continuous rise uphill… not really made for sprinting. There was a lot of swimming in the race which is not our strongest ability, or should I say was not our strongest ability. Somehow the technique fell into place and we passed a lot of people in the water. I think changing to Strokemaker paddles really helped.
There were three very long swims in the fjord (0,9, 1,6 and 1,7km) which were extremely cold. Rumor has it that it was below 11 degrees. Many had chosen to wear too thin wetsuits and had to give up due to being too cold. Luckily we tried the water in Stavanger harbor the day before the race and realized we should use thick suits, but still it was very cold. It took a long time to warm up after each swim. The rest of the swims were much shorter in mountain lakes, some nice and warm others ice cold surrounded by glaciers. Then there is the famous 4444 step stair climb on an old narrow wooden stair built for support workers to pipelines going down the mountain with water for an electrical turbine by the fjord below. A bit tedious, but a nice way to warm up after crossing the fjord and the views if you dare to look down were spectacular.
What was you “Kodak-moment?”
Running out on the famous Pulpit rock and taking in the views of the whole fjord, the mountains surrounding and Stavanger out by the sea. Incomparable magical in the sunshine. But it was a short moment, it was a competition after all. The visiting tourists were a bit surprised to see us with wetsuits up on the mountain.
You did well coming in fourth mixed, 15th in total. Did the race go according to plan?
Well, because of the lack of preparation and some worries about shoulder problems the plan was really only to enjoy the scenery and pass the finish line. However, Johanna did set up a good pace and if it hadn´t been for me getting knee problems when going downhill we could probably have picked another place at least.
…and what’s next?
Well we recently did the Arholma-Landsort Invitational Swimrun challenge and up is Loch gu Loch in Scotland, another scenic race!
If you look forward five years, where do think the Swimrun sport will be?
I think Swimrun is here to stay. It is such a natural extension from trail running. Simply running will of course always be easier and therefore attract a larger number of people, but I am sure it will grow. I also hope it will develop from just being something you do at organized races to something you do just to explore and have fun in short or long adventures. Having been part of the group organizing and doing the Arholma-Landsort Invitational Swimrun challenge I have realized that doing Swimrun outside of races is in my opinion even more fun. You have more time for laughing together, for stopping and watching the incredible views and in general really take in every moment. You can choose your own pace and goal for the day and you can even sit down at a nice restaurant and have a long lunch if you feel like it. For those who still want an element of competition you can always try to do it as a Fastest Known Time race, and if so, to log them on the ultra Swimrun webpage, so that others can take up the challenge and perhaps even beat you. There are so many options for nice Swimrun stretches along the coast or in lakes and often very accessible and close by.
Finally any advice to those doing Rockman next year?
Sure, try to practice steep mountain running, both up and downhill as well as walking in stairs. Perhaps the most important advice is to make sure you choose a good wetsuit for the day!
Originally posted by Ultraswimrun.com 19/8/2015