For three weeks we have been on different places in southern Europe and raced one ultra (75 km), one 21 km and two verticals. We had one more week to go with the final race on our trip - the prestigious Comapedrosa Skyrace which also gives bonus points in the overall ranking in the Skyrunning World Series.
We drove all the way from Sweden down to Val d’Isère in a van for the first races. Lack of sleep and many hours sitting in a car is not the best way to prepare for a run, but all races have gone really good for at least one of us each time.
I had a very hard day on High Trail Vanoise (the 75 km, with 5300 meters of elevation) with a tired body and mind, I spend more than 11 hours out on the brutal course. I ended up on 4th place anyway, Sanna much stronger on a 2nd position 40 minutes ahead. Though I really suffered during that race it was also one of the most beautiful courses I have ever ran! Glaciers, snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, rolling trails and green pastures were just breath taking!
The day before we ran (or walked?!) 2,9 km with 1000 meters of elevation, so after two tough races like that in a row it is very important to recover properly. With Optima Recovery Boots we took turns to have some circulation in our legs (NOW IN A HOTEL ROOM!). The legs get swollen after many hours running and also on high altitude, so it was really nice to have some compression!
The coming days we biked, hiked and did easy and long runs in the mountains with friends we met. We really had a blast and discovered so many new and fantastic places! With a van you can sleep in and have all your gear in (included 4 bikes), It’s truly amazing what freedom it gives you!
2 weeks flew by and we had 2 more races coming up, now in Canazei in the Dolomites. We started with a vertical on Friday and I felt really strong so I gave it all and manage to push hard and pass women I thought I’d never would have a chance to beat before! Dolomyths vertical is VERY steep and and I just fell down exhausted after the finish line on the top, but sooo happy coming 2nd women in a pretty strong start field. Sanna came shortly after with a bunch of other women ending 7th.
This time we had one day in between the two races so we really could rest to feel good on Sundays big Skyrace! Once again we used our Compression boots, using different programmes so it almost is like a massage for the legs!
We both had fresh bodies on Sunday morning and could push and keep 2nd and 3rd position up to the Piz Boé Peak on 3152 meters of altitude. After a gnarly and technical downhill to the Finish Sanna ended 3rd and Lina 4th. The Dolomites Skyrace is a great event with people cheering everywhere and it’s a real feast in the village!
Now we had a looong drive to upcoming week’s race in Andorra. But we took it easy and enjoyed the Italian coast and the French Riviera for a couple of days. Swimming in small bays in the Calanques and sleeping under the stars was magical. Contrasts from the days in the mountains, and that’s the fun part about travelling!
Finally in Andorra, pumped for our final race, both feeling great in shape!
We tried the whole course (21 km 2300 of elevation gain) two days before with friends and had a fantastic day! Though we both got a bit worried on the afternoon since our legs were suuuper tired! But now when we stayed in a hotel again, we had pool to soak in and also opportunity to use Optima Sport compression boots again!
On race day we were very excited! 700 participants and Arinsal were full of people! Since Comapedrosa Skyrace gives you bonus points in the series there were many good athletes there. We didn’t know what to expect, only try to do our best!
And we went Off! I sprinted away with the guys and a bit surprised I seemed to be the only one eager to be first on the narrow trail that would come after a uphill on the asphalt. Two more women joined me but I really wanted to be in the lead so I could have my own pace, not being hold by anyone when I felt strong. And wow what I felt strong! It felt so easy eventhough my pulse hammered in the chest. A fantastic feeling, passing more and more men ahead of me! My plan had been to push hard in the uphill to have some time in the technical downhill where I know many other girls are faster than me, but I hadn’t been thinking about being totally alone in the lead. But now I was. I got even more excited and had so much fun running on the ridge and down to the aid station where spectators screamed and cheered like crazy! Water in the face and a slurp of energy drink I continued with some guys up the super steep ascent to the highlight of the race – Pico de Comapedrosa! 1000 meters of elevation gain in 2 km!
As we recently tried the course, and I and Sanna have done the ELS2900 (tagging the 7 peaks on 2900 m in Andorra) last year, I knew the course pretty well by this time and could just focus on getting forward.
Again I could feel so much joy, being first, feeling strong, sunny weather, but with a light wind, scrambling up a mountain – WHAT could be more perfect!? People along the way cheering and I could even enjoy some parts of the downhill, even though knowing I’m chased by a pack of super women!
I must admit that the last 10 km were painful; I think I have higher pulse running those technical downhills that pushing in the uphill! But the nearer I came to the Finish the more certain I became I may win this! I hadn’t even been dreaming of winning this race since there was such a buzz on the competitive start field. The feeling running into the village and Finish first, now tired But Super happy, was so cool! I wish more people can get this experience!
I got even more happy minutes later, after second women Laura Orgue (who won in the dolomites) had arrived, when the speaker shouts that 3rd women will be Sheila Aviles OR Sanna El Kott Helander!! There will be tight! There will be a fight! They are coming! Sheila or Sanna! IT IS SOOOO EXCITING!! He screams Sheila. BUT Then Sanna makes a SUPER Sprint the last 25 meters and wins the battle! It’s hilarious seeing the two with fighting faces and both crashing totally empty after the finish line! There are some video clips of this you can see one HERE
The day was fullyfied and we both were really proud and with a BIG self confidence boost! Soaking and refilling energy in the chilling stream that’s running through the village was amazing! And also celebrating with friends that also had a super fun race, our team mate Petter Engdahl finishing 3rd after Pascal Egli and Kilian Journet!
Full of endorphins we now started our journey back to Sweden. 3000 km. But when you are two everything goes easier. #Twinittowinit ;)
The long drive went smooth and we were home chilling and having family time for three days before leaving for next adventure. Now to the States! Colorado! Transrockies Run, a 6 days stage race Together! CAN’T WAIT!
In our recovery boots from Optima Sport DK
In cooperation with Optima Sport