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Running in Sweden

April 26, 2010

Running is booming here in Sweden. You can read about the trend in newspapers and all kinds of health magazines. They even spread the running gospel on TV, referring to two very popular and usually full foot races: Stockholm Marathon and Göteborgs-Varvet (semi-marathon). Beeing spring and you see much more people pounding pavement than usual. Some of them even seem to appreciate running, while others doing the heel-strike-shuffle, unsuccessfully hiding their disguise, like it was some kind of punishment. These seasonal “masochist runners” weren’t making any tracks in the snow the past winter.

Martin Roth runs free in nature, having a trail running experience, not caring about racing in the streets. Photo: Ola Kjelbye

When they talk about a “running boom” taking place, it seems more about heel-striking pavement pounders (joggers) who want to participate in a spectacular mass event, rather than a lot of people suddenly discovering their love for running.

In various running blogs you find all kinds of runners: elite, road, ultra, sprint, jogger, amateur, beginner, trail, adventure, lifestyle, fitness, weight watchers etc. One of the most common type of runner is “the counter“, who’s running is all about measuring quantity: distance, time, heartbeat, pulse, calories etc. Without counting or measuring running just doesn’t make sense for this type of runner. A “blog runner” is a person who seem to write more about running than doing the actual running himself, a “theoretical runner” in other words. There are even a blog-running communities, where blog-runners and their readers get together a run together, a collective body of runners similar to the practice of running clubs.

Then we have the “gear runner“, who sport all kinds of products during a normal run: superlight running sunglasses, mp3-player, heart-rate monitor with gps, an advanced hydration system, flexible quick-lock shoestrings, buff and of course several compression items: socks, tights, shirt etc. The “gear runner” who always is updated with the latest in running gear technology actually believes his latest shoe purchase can help him become a better runner.

The most common type of runner is “the circular runner“, who usually run in a big circle, either on pavement or park trail. But among all possible figures that exist I think the circle is freedom killing as the square. Square minded people run in circles. Open minded runners draw their own figures, exploring hidden paths and following nature’s possibilities.
This park trail, or “motionsspår” as it’s called, is one of the reasons why trail running on gnarly trails and off-trail running never have become popular – still the biggest “real” trail races only attracts at most 200 runners. With groomed park trails in every little town nobody need to face the challenges of running in rough terring, rocky mountain trails, crossing muddy creeks or stumble upon slippery roots. Therefore sales of trail running shoes in Sweden have always been weak, compared to road shoes.

However, the interest in trail running seems to slowly awakens. The number of trail races are increasing, partly thanks to Salomon’s new Trail Tour adding 8 new (or even more..) trail races to the calendar. Hopefully the trail races will attract more than just a handful runners, and hopefully also some really strong runners. Today more or less any elite marathon or orienteering runner is likely to win any given race.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2010 18:03

    You are so right, no matter what someone is part of you will find people never do it the same way. I love to spread the word of trail running, so I can share the joy and sometimes pain of running. People that don’t do it don’t understand a lot of the time.

  2. April 26, 2010 19:42

    We’ve been waiting for the boom for 12 years, since we first got the idea of a longer trailrace in the Stockhom area. We got the first edition of Sörmland Ultra Marathon under way ten years ago. At the same time other short distance ultra trail races across Sweden were launched. For us race organizers it seemed that this might be the right time to open the eyes of the recreational runner to the joy of simple and pure running in the nature. Although the races were successful and had lots and lots of satisfied participants they did’nt boom. Maybe these days focus on barefoot/caveman/minimalism etc running will boost interest even more?

    • fredrikolmqvist permalink*
      April 27, 2010 9:08

      Surveys of Swedish runners show that most runners actually want to run in nature. But laziness and a lack of curiousity of moving out of their comfort-zone prevent many runners from experiencing a stronger connection with nature and their senses while running. Some people I know could might as well be running in a tunnel.

  3. April 27, 2010 15:42

    They just don’t know what they are missing. I’m shocked when I post picture’s of my run’s, and some runner’s say they don’t have trail’s like that or just didn’t find them.

    • fredrikolmqvist permalink*
      April 27, 2010 16:11

      I think pictures is a good way to inspire to trail running, even though they still will need someone to actually bring them out in nature and show them step-by-step. We are all stuck in different patterns of convenience. We trail runners are like lab rats running free in the lab instead of staying on the treadwheel – but it’s just one of many beautiful examples of what you can do with your freedom and awareness in the present.

  4. April 30, 2010 13:15

    Interesting thoughts. I’ve just done some fell/trail running in Nuuk, Greenland. I always try and find trails when I’m away on “business” trips. And I blog about it… Wonder what category that puts me in. 😉

    • fredrikolmqvist permalink*
      April 30, 2010 15:03

      ahh, you’re the typical “blogging business traveling trail runner”:D

  5. July 8, 2010 16:51

    I’ve read some of your articles when looking for trails in sweden. (I googled “running in sweden” ;-))

    Your blog shows well what we are experiencing when doing trails and why we love running into the wild which is much more than just running !

    I’m French and I’ll study in Umea for one year until september 2011 and I’m looking for trails running in Sweden. I heard about Sörmland Ultra Marathon but I’m looking for a complete trail running calendar 2010-2011.

    Is there any specific website ? Maybe could you advice me swedish races/trails ?

    Thanks for your advices,

    Keep running and writing! 😉

    Your new french fan 😉

    • fredrikolmqvist permalink*
      July 13, 2010 10:42

      Hey Léo, good to hear that you enjoy trail running in Sweden. On this website you find links to a few trail running events in Sweden:
      a bientôt

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