7 marathon in 6 days !

Two weeks back I was in the middle of the perhaps toughest contest thus far in my humble marathon career: the completion of seven marathons within the timespan of six days ! The races were part of an ultra-event organized on the Danish island Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. Runners from 8 different countries, at least, were contesting throughout the week in 6-days, 48-h, 24-h and, as you may appreciate, the 7 marathons events.

The short version of the marathon contest is that 15 of 17 prevailled ! Indeed, the field was packed with very strong and experienced runners, myself clearly being the perhaps poorest runner of all. Therefore, I was quite happy and proud to make an overall very satisfactory performance in these seven races, during which I even managed to break year-best times in race 4 and 6 ! The presence of many good friends and the upstart of the soccer World Cup added to the unique atmosphere thoughout the week not to mention the good if not perfect running weather.

Day 1
I was quite nerveous, actually, before the first race (13th June), having not been running since June 1th. The start was thus very slow, controlled so ! Pictures day 1.

Day 2
The strategy was to run the first three marathons on the “exact” same time… this failed on day 2 to 12 seconds ! In other words yet another day in full control and beginning to pick up on the whole running-business. Here on the picture we some of the stronger runners in the event, from the left Vagn Kirkelund, Jesper Elfving, Mogens Pedersen and, undressing, Stephan Grabow whom on this day, his birthday, produced an incredible rally against his own PB.  Pictures day 2.

Day 3
Then came a beautiful day with sunshine, blue sky and a somewhat intensified competitive atmosphere in the marathon pack. Most attention drew, however, the famous danish ultrarunner Lars Skytte Christoffersen (on the picture) in the 6-day race. Lars was the runner-up in Sparthalon 2009 and completed 850 km (!) during a 6-day race in Sweden last year as well: Thus, Lars was of course amongst the favorites for the Bornholm event and he gracefully returned the honors winning the event with 790 km, well done !  Pictures day 3.

Day 4
Before the event I had forespoken that days 4 and 5 would be the crucial ones. So I was VERY surprised to clinch a year-best time on day 4, running even seemed easy and I felt I could have done even faster ! I’m sure that this unexpected inspiration came from my fellow contesters, here we see Mogens Pedersen, Jesper Hahn Jensen (the uncontested winner of the seven marathons), Anders Munch Madsen (the most experienced marathonrunner in Denmark), Gurli Hansen and Pól Sundskarö.  Pictures day 4

Day 5
Ready for day 5, ie. the fifth marathon within four days ? Yup ! And then again… perhaps not so ready. For certain, day five proved to be a tough one in the office. Apart from general fatigue I also struggled with beginning cramps in the left achilles/leg and the mood was not too good even though I finished off the day in 4.38.  Pictures day 5.

Day 6
Luckily,  the mood changed quite a bit on day six… perhaps due to the addition of the 24-hours runners on the 1-km track, who knows… well, we did for sure get new things to look at 🙂 Pleasantly, my legs were just fine again and I recorded the second year-best time during the event. Having completed day six in fine style, we felt certain that we would be able to secure the completion of the event overall, and this also turned out to be the case the following morning. On the picture we see the very strongly running Anne Dorthe Mahato, Anne Dorthe ran just about 190 km in the 24-hour event.  Pictures day 6.

Day 7
The last marathon startet Saturday morning at hours 06.00 and should be completed before noon 12.00. I neeed 4.34.26 for the job, thus securing the overall event. But boy oh boy this was a tough one, a really tough one ! For the first time during the whole week I had glimpses of doubt whether these seven races were actually achievable and several of the kilometers took a looong time. But I somehow managed to wrap the whole thing up and suddently seven days of running had come to an end. WE DID IT !!!

On the last picture we see some of the marathonrunners… from the left young Kasper Skriver who bravefully completed in spite of a bad injury, the winner Jesper Hahn, strong Jesper Elfving, heroic fighting Morten Skram, overall no. 2 Mogens Pedersen, super-finisher Peder Thorup, steadily improving Gurli Hansen and myself in front.

Congratulations to all and thanks for a very memorable week on Bornholm and thanks to the professionel and kind organizers (TIF) of Bornholm Ultramarathon 2010.  Pictures day 7.