If there was going to be a Toughest race this year that might cause me issues, I reckoned it would be the one in Malmø. Not because it is difficult, if anything the opposite. This course is dead flat and as fast as they come. One mistake would be one too many to take the win, especially as the field was so stacked.
Joining the usual big hitters would be Krister Sellman and Nikolaj Dam, who were both absent in London. There were also some strong athletes such as Peter Žiška, whom I have only raced a couple of times, the first being in the Spartan European championships in Slovakia. There was also talk of a Danish triathlete, who could boast a 7hr 52min ironman and other runners with impressive times.
I remained indifferent and knew as long as I ran well and had a clean race, my chances were good. I was happy with how my legs felt after last weeks Marathon but knew it wouldn’t be until the race started that I would find out if they had what it takes.
As always the race started quick, but for once it was me leading the charge. I wanted to be out front and not mixed up in a crowd, especially with a sandbag carry after only 200m!
The first loop out and back to the event village would only be a kilometer and I am still amazed at the speed we did it. As I powered along flowing over an inverted wall, step up and some hay bales, I could still hear footsteps behind me. Someone was keeping pace and I had an idea it was Peter. Having not raced him much I was anxious and wanted to put a little time into him, so I pushed harder.
Coming back into the the event arena I was through the swing walk fast lane using the nunchucks/ropes and risked a look back, I had a lead.
It was now a flat, fast, grassy run for the next 3km with some horse jumps that are permanent to the area and some of Toughests signature obstacles, like the flying monkey.
Still with a clean run I looked back again expecting a bit of a lead but the flat running was making it hard for me to separate myself by more than 30 seconds.
Turning back for the return run, which was mostly on sand, my legs started to feel hollow. Pushing such a hard start, the sand and the memory of the marathon was taking its toll. A few carries and the mudland didn’t help but I had a lead and just had to continue getting through everything cleanly. I had planned to do the easy lane rope climb (instead of the salmon ladder) and the normal pegboard (instead of the hanging one), so I needed all the lead I could get, as it might have been eaten up by me doing the forfeit penalty obstacles.
One obstacle I was glad to see was the slide. It was refreshing to hit the water on such a hot day and meant there were just just two obstacles left, pegboard and the ramp. Starting to relax a little I felt I had done enough. Hitting the ramp and making it first time I was glad it had been a near flawless run, I needed it to win comfortably.
Linus had been on my heels for the majority of the race and the one I kept seeing when I looked back but he only managed the ramp on his second attempt, allowing Krister to take second place. Krister had paced the race far better than others and had also completed the obstacles flawlessly, he needed too. Toughest races are becoming so competitive, second and tenth position were only split by 2 minutes.
It was a tough day out for the Team Santander ladies but many lessons were learnt and it was a great experience for all.
After another lap I was content that I had done the amazing course Toughest had put together justice and left for the hotel and a coffee.
I’m now three weeks and three races into the season and couldn’t have wished for a better start.