Friday, November 28, 2014

RACE REPORT: Stockholm Tunnel Run

The final race of 2014 was one of those which had been planned for the longest period of time. At Lidingöloppet in 2013 I saw the flyer for this unique race and decided to sign up immediately some 14 months in advance!
On 22 November 2014, one week before the "Norra länken" tunnel was opened to traffic, Stockholm Tunnel Run was held. A 10 km long race in the tunnel system and a race that can only be described as a "once in a lifetime experience!"
Before the start you could gather at one of two different venues (Arena Tallink Silja and Arena Länsförsäkringar) before being efficiently passed through to the start. As with all events hosted by the Lidingö organisation, everything was slick and well oiled. Once the starting gun went, it looked like a long coiled yellow snake making it's way off along the road down to the tunnel entrance. 3,000 runners took off every 10 minutes.
It was a pretty congested start with runners of all abilities grouped into the same starting pen. No seeding at this race made the first 1-2 kms more of a human obstacle course to navigate around slower moving walkers and runners. However, the first couple of kms were downhill into the underground cavern so didn't use up too much energy in the process.
The course made it's way towards  Norrtull before a 180 degree turn (3km), looping back east and north to Stockholm University before another 180 degree turn, this time outside the tunnel (5km), back south and west towards Roslagtull for a final 180 degree turn (7km) and then the final 3km push to the finish.
I never really considered the course profile before the race other than noting the 3 turns and their respective distances to try and get a handle on how fast I was running (GPS of course doesn't work under all that rock!). What I really failed to grasp was that each turn was of course either above ground or close to ground level and that meant hills!! 4 of them to be precise and they were long and leg sapping. The final km was on a constant incline with the last 200m punishing to the finish on top of the flyover.

The run was amazing, so good in fact, that once finished, I really wished I could go through again at a leisurely pace and enjoy all the amazing sights all over again.

As everyone had to wear the same 'day-glo' vest and gloves, it looked incredible whether with the UV lighting or the directional white lighting in the tunnel making people glow or shine.

At one point, the lights were off and you were only illuminated by scan lasers above your head (think pop-concert!) and the only sound was the pounding of feet on asphalt, an eerie experience.

I'm very pleased to finish the year strong with a 45:54 after the disappointment in Lidingöloppet at the end of September. I carry my positive outlook into the winter season and into 2015. Now a couple of months of strength training once again and begin preparations for a trip back to Den Haag, The Netherlands on 8th March 2015 to compete in the City-Pier-City Half Marathon, a very flat course!!

There was even a winter theme complete with fake snow and Christmas trees at one point! How Swedish :
Foto: Eddie Granlund                                                                

If you're interested in the massive engineering project which has been ongoing for the past 7 years, you can find further details of the Norra Länken project at Trafikverken's website and in the video below (Swedish):

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