Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Haglöfs Åre Extreme Challenge 2013

So what are we really aiming for? What is it that drives us forward? What event is holding our thoughts more than other events on the calendar? Well, for now it's the Åre Extreme Challenge.

Haglöfs Åre Extreme Challenge was the first Multisport race in Scandinavia and was started in 1997. The race is located in the fantastic suroundings of Åre and consists of white water kayaking, mountain running and biking.

For the solo class, the start is by the waterfall Tännforsen followed by kayaking down the river Indalsälven to Åre. All classes used to start at the same place but as the race has grown the DUO and Relay teams kayak only on Lake Åre. We start at Åre beach and then kayak on the lake for 18 km with one portage. Truth be told, I'm going to miss those class 2 rapids and the additional challenge of keeping head up, bum down as you rode nature's rollercoaster of water, seeing Åreskutan appearing as you made you way towards the lake, letting your mind drift forward to the run which lay ahead. But lake paddling issues it's own challenges and we hope for calm weather and little wind.

In Åre square it's a quick transition to 15km running to the summit of Åreskutan and then down to Huså. The course follows the summer trail via Tottliften, Sadeln and Lillskutan on the way to Åreskutan’s summit, 1420 m. After that there is a downhill run to Huså on the northern side of Åreskutan. Back in 2002 in my first visit and experience to the race, I remember being so surprised to find what I considered to be a huge snow field on the north side of the mountain, that was certainly not something I had thought of.

The race then continues 32km on mountainbike. The route runs from Huså to Åre through beautiful forests on trails, boggy areas, gravel and asphalt roads. We'll climb over Falltorpet (465m) on the way back with some technical sections on the way down before hitting the road and cycling to the finish in Åre square. The challenge will have been achieved...and minds will slowly drift to further in the year and how you can keep this feeling going....but first it will be rest, let the body recover, savor the memories that will stay with you for years.
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It's a challenge, it's doable, it's motivational, it's an experience, it's inspiring and most of all it's FUN! 

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