Trail Running above the Arctic Circle in Northern Sweden

19 May 2014 00:35
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview
Credit : Tierra Arctic Ultra

Hello, on August 8th 2014, you’ll be organizing the Tierra Arctic Ultra. Can you tell us where it is located?

The Tierra Arctic Ultra is located almost a far north in Sweden as you can get, well above the Arctic Circle. The 120 km route follows a classic hiking trail called the King’s Trail.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

2014 is the first year we have the race. It was created as compliment to the hiking event Fjällräven Classic. The thought with Fjällräven Classic is to help people get out and experience nature.

However, there has been an increasing demand from people who wants to run the route which is not really in alignment with the branding of Fjällräven Classic. So we then decided to create an event for these runners and others that want to be able to get an official time for the route. We can at the same time utilize all the staff for the Classic which means we will from day one have an extremely competent organization.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The route follows the main hiking trial but we have added a detour in order to gain length and altitude as it is important for us to have the three point grading of the ITRA (International Trail Running Association).

It is not easy running since the terrain is very rocky and you also need to balance on planks at some parts. You are surrounded by dramatic nature, steep mountain faces and have some serious climbs to do, not very steep but long and grueling.

How many runners do you expect on Friday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

We have for the first year set a limit at 100 runners in order to test everything and we are aiming to fill all these spots. We think it will be both runners who want to set an official time for themselves on this route but also the runners who need to gain points towards Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc qualification.

Credit : Tierra Arctic Ultra

Do you organize other races during the Weekend? If so, on what distances?

This is the only race during the weekend and we only have two classes, one male and one female and one distance 120 km with more than 2,500 vertical meters.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

Mountain weather. It can really vary from nice warm sunny summer weather but it could just as well be snowing on parts of the route.

Have you planned festivities around the race?

There will be a brunch with price ceremony on Saturday morning. Also, the Fjällräven Classic has a lot of activities going on at the finish area such as Live band, sauna.

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Nikkaluokta before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

The finish is in Abisko which is just a small mountain village but with a good restaurant and astonishing surrounding which you really should stay a couple of days to explore. The closest city Kiruna, which is where you arrive when flying in, has a number of restaurants.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Tierra Arctic Ultra?

Take the chance to run a mountain ultra in a truly unique environment in the land of the midnight sun.

Interview with Erik Tjerneld, Brand Manager of the outdoor company Tierra who organizes the Tierra Arctic Ultra. Tierra, founded 1983 in Sweden, has a background in the Himalayan expeditions of the early nineties. With the experience from these, together with the help of their test team of mountain guides and other athletes, they develop clothes that fulfill these tough demands.