English: Skövde Ultrafestival 48h race report

Skövde Ultrafestival 48 h 31.7. - 2.8.2015 (310,000 km)

Torill Fonn has couple of minutes to new female European Record
24 h World Championships -race in Turin was disaster for me. I had to quit the race after only four hours due to hamstring injury. When I was recovered enough to think about new challenges I decided to run 48 hours in Skövde at the beginning of August.

Last time I ran 48 hours was in Kaustinen, four years earlier in pouring rain. Despite the terrible weather conditions I managed to do (then) Nordic record on road courses, 373,142 km. When Swedish Johan Steene broke Nordic overall record in Bornholm last year by running 384,936 km I knew what my target will be. I was also dreaming about 400 km result. I was also aware that Swedish Torill Fonn was targeting to improve female World Record over 400 km.

Thursday-evening dinner
My training for Skövde went without any big problems. Four weeks before the 48 h I participated in Lake Bodom Ultra Interval (8 x 13 km, start every third hour). I took that race more of a training than serious competition. Still I managed to improve my time about eight minutes from last time I participated the race, so I was quite confident about my condition.

Last two weeks before the race I did only couple of short training runs. We arrived in Skövde a day before the race so we had time to make last minute shoppings and check the track. Weather reports had threatened there might be storm and rain on Friday, but luckily that was changed.

Still smiling with the girls just before the start
left: Ulrika Skräddar, Jari, Mari Toivonen (photo: Jaana Tomppo)
My wife Jaana was of course supporting me and we had also another Jaana in the team. Finnish national team member ultrarunner Jaana Thorström was also crewing me in Skövde. On track there were also some Finnish runners besides myself: on 24 h Marko Forsell, Pasi Forsell, Mari Toivonen and Ulrika Skräddar. Fredrik Olaussen ran 100 km and Kari Rantanen was on 6 h race. Jarmo Riihinen, living in Sweden was running 12 hours.

0 - 6 h (62,2 km)

And here we go (photo: Jaana Tomppo)
From the start there were some hard feelings about running. Pace was quite okay, but running didn't feel easy at all. My plan was to run 26 laps on hour for first four hours and I managed to keep that pace. Although I had quite many toilet-breaks from beginning of the race. At six hours I had run 62,2 km (my plan was 61,6 km, so I was on target).
No problems, yet (photo: Jaana Tomppo)

I took one minut walking interval every time I took something to drink or eat, basically every fifteen minutes. I had planned actually more walking breaks, but my running pace was so slow and I had lots of toilet-breaks so I didn't want to slower my pace too much at this point.

Only time there was rain during weekend was after about 5 hours of running. The rain lasted about one hour and didn't cause any trouble. Actually weather was close to perfect all the time.

6 h - 12 h (119,3 km / 57,1 km)

After six hours running direction was changed and my planned pace of about 10 km / hour didn't feel easy at all. After ten hours I slowed my pace more than I had planned and at 12 hours I was about 2 km behind my schedule. That ain't much on 48 hour race, but I was little bit worried because my legs felt already tired and empty.

12 h  - 18 h (153,6 km / 34,3 km)

Marko won 24 h race and 
ran over 230 km 
(photo: Jaana Tomppo)
After we changed running direction second time I took about 10 min break. I ate some rice and had some rest for my legs. After the break my lap times were as bad as before the break and somehow my mind started to play the games: "you are gonna loose it, no way".

After 13,5 hours started the stomach issues and vomiting which lasted few hours. Seppo Leinonen who was there crewing Ulrika adviced me to take at least an hour break and get some sleep, it might help. As there was nothing to lose and Seppo is the one to listen in such situations I headed to our "sleeping room", under the stairs leading to second floor of the service building of the track. I came back to track after about 1,5 hours.

Seppo mixing drinks for Ulrika
(photo: Jaana Tomppo)
After the break I did couple of laps at about same pace as before my stomach issues started, but still I had lots of problems for getting energy down. My crew did everything in order to get me eat and drink properly, but my stomach was reluctant to accept anything. I knew that I must get some energy so I tried to eat and drink small portions of everything offered. Besides that everything I drank came out almost instantly. At least it wasn't due to lack of salt as there was surely enough of that on my drinks. Plus I took some electrolyte capsules during the race.

18 h - 24 h (184,8 km / 31,2 km)

Last quarter of first 24 hours was more or less tired sneaking. Actually I don't remember very much about this period, except that I couldn't take many running steps. I tried to take some energy, but eveything liquid came right through my system.

24 h - 30 h (218,1 km / 33,3 km)

After 24 hours I was more than 40 km behind my schedule. It was painfully obvious that I had lost chances even to break my personal best, let alone breaking any records. At that time I was quite close to finishing the race, but after we had short "negotiation" with Jaana we came to conclusion that I'll continue. At that time there was first longer break in my plan, so I ate some rice, took a quick shower and headed to sleep. I rolled over about 30 min in my sleeping bag without actually sleeping at all. After 30 minutes Jaana came and drag me out. When I stood up and came to sunlight my stomach turned immediately upside down and I threw up everything I had in my stomach.

I wobbled back to the track and managed to do couple of laps almost running. After that my legs were so empty that they refused to run, no matter how hard my crew tried to motivate me. I heard that despite my problems I was leading men's race and was about 20 laps ahead of Mats Liljegren who also had difficulties.

30 h - 36 h (251,9 km / 33,8 km)

After 30 hours 6 h runners left the track and 12 h race started. The difference in pace between fresh 12 h runners and exhausted 48 h runners was huge. Luckily there were no collisions, even though 48 h runners struggling on the track like group of zombies weren't able to react faster runners in very sensible way all the time.

Although my pace slowed remarkable I was able to add my lead all the time. When my legs refused to run I tried to increase my walking speed and managed to walk even sub 8 min/km pace, my fastest walking laps were close to 3 min. Not bad, for someone who is lousy walker and actually hates walking.

At around 32 hours I changed the shoes. New Balance 890 worked very well, but my toes had hard time and I thought Hoka One One Clifton's might have more space for toes. Actually not, my feet just were so swollen. Also the joints under the shoelaces had quite much pain at that point and loosening the laces didn't help.

36 h - 42 h (281,7 km / 29,8 km)

Last hour going
(photo: Jaana Thorström)
After 36 hours I had another planned long break. At this time everything went well. Some rice, quick shower and 30 min nap and I was back on track 45 minutes after I left there.

I checked the result monitor: during my break Mats had narrowed my lead seven laps, but I had still 37 laps lead. I continued slow walking and managed to get some energy. After the break I felt quite good, I even did some laps running. Unfortunately that didn't last very long before I had to switch to walking again.

42 h - 47 h 23 min (310,0 km / 28,3 km)

48 h winners, left Torill's supporter Silvio
Cannava, Torill Fonn, Jari Tomppo
(photo: Jaana Thorström)
After we had changed running direction last time there were only 48 h runners (actually there was only one of us who was still running, Torill) on track. At some point I had promised myself that when I'm secured the victory I can leave the track, but couple of hours before the race Mats accelerated his pace - I guess he realised that he has chance to hit 300 km. So I "had" to continue more than 47 hours, before I was sure that there is enough marginal. I walked couple of slow laps and finished when I reached 310 km, about 37 minutes before the finish. After that I headed to shower and came back to track with my camera to see the final moments of the race.

Torill Fonn did wonderful new female European Recored 376,939 km. She had also difficulties during the race, yet she did fantastic run and managed to improve her previous record almost two kilometers.


So, what went wrong? I've been thinking that about two weeks, but cannot name any single reason. My training volume after injury that caused failure in Turin 24 h was quite low, but I did couple of good 4 - 6 h training runs, which I believe are more important for ultrarunner than huge total training amounts. It is possible that I did my long runs too fast, maby they were closer to 24 h training than 48 h pace and that's one of the reasons why I had difficulties for finding correct running pace during the race.

The tapering period was only two weeks this time, that may be little bit too short. The hamstring injury that destroyed 24 h World championships -race caused some minor pain during summer training, but at 48 h it didn't cause any trouble.

One of the biggest mysteries is why all the liquids I drank came almost instantly through my body. As I already mentioned, I used plenty of salt so I don't believe that was caused by lack of salt. Especially when weather wasn't extremely hot, actually weather conditions were close to perfect all weekend.

To be honest, word "failure" is quite relative issue. I managed to win the race and my result is currently at 21. position in World ranking 2015. Yet, I was targeting better and I still believe I can do lot better than 310 km in 48 hours. I still have a dream about 400 km, even though during Skövde-race I might have said something this being my last 48 h -race. There will be another 48 h, maby next year.

I believe I won't run 24 hour European championships -race 2016 as I don't currently have any eligible 24 h result, so it might be that my main goal for next year is to improve my 48 h result.

There aren't many runners in the World who have run over 250 km in 24 hours and over 250 miles (402,34 km) in 48 hours. Maby that's a good goal for 2016? Or why not 252,25 miles (405,96 km).

According to DUV there are 20 runners in the World who have run more than 400 km in 48 hours. 250 km in 24 hours is broken by over 150 runners. So, yes, that is one tough challenge. Mission impossible? We'll see.

Skövde Ultrafestival 2015 - results | DUV: Statistics

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