Runs within the household: racing across the coast of Sweden | Sweden holidays


At the highest of a steep path by means of a birch forest in western Sweden a middle-aged girl calls out “Välkommen!” with such heat it’s as if we’re long-lost family members being welcomed. We’re extraordinarily joyful to see her, too, and her trays of torn-up cinnamon buns, gherkins and crisps, the Swedish tackle a pit-stop, which is able to energy us on to the following feed station.

My 12-year-old son and I’ve come to the coast of Bohuslän, Sweden’s westernmost province, that includes a surprising archipelago of greater than 8,000 islands stretching from Gothenburg to Norway, to participate within the Icebug Xperience. This can be a three-day occasion through which members both run or hike (or each) between 21 and 30km (13 to 18 miles) a day.

Lured by photos I’d seen on social media of runners silhouetted on pink granite cliffs amid purple heather and hazy seascapes, I first deliberate to enter earlier than the pandemic and was going to place my sons within the occasion’s youngsters camp whereas I ran – crusing, crab fishing and mini hikes hold little ones entertained. However then my eldest obtained into working, at first by means of parkrun, then an athletics membership and took a shine to cross nation, so requested if he may be a part of the primary occasion. Below 15s are allowed to participate, so long as they’re accompanied by an grownup. So we’ve come on a mother-son path working journey.

Sam Haddad with her son in Sweden.
Sam Haddad along with her son in Sweden.

The Icebug Xperience began as an ultra-race 10 years in the past, earlier than morphing into right this moment’s extra mild multi-day occasion. It’s billed extra as a memorable expertise in a lovely, rugged panorama than a race, and whereas there are some quick runners on the entrance, there are many relaxed hikers of all ages on the again. About 850 folks of all ages participate, divided into teams in response to whether or not they’re climbing, working or each. Our group ranged from a 75-year-old to my son, with a number of youngsters and loads of folks within the 40-60 bracket. Most entrants are Swedish or Norwegian and returners, however we additionally meet an Irish couple, Canadian sisters and Belgians.

Our base is Ramsvik Stugby and Tenting, exterior Hunnebostrand, the place about half the members are staying in a sequence of purple cabins constructed on the waterfront. After a very good night time’s sleep, we’re prepared for the primary stage, Hunnebo Haute, a 21km stint. We plan to run the primary half and stroll the remaining, partly as a result of I’m frightened about how my son’s legs will cope over the three days, to not point out my very own – whereas I run pretty repeatedly, I don’t usually do a lot past 10km. The adrenaline signifies that the working half passes in a cheerful blur of bushes and sheep and rock-strewn paths and hillsides, however the strolling part by means of the forest drags. The signing is nice although, so we by no means worry getting misplaced, and common meals stations, with their smiling volunteers, supply welcome respite.

We run the ultimate stretch alongside the shoreline over clean weathered rock and bouncy picket jetties till we attain the gorgeous port city of Hunnebostrand. On the boat journey again to camp we tuck right into a carb-heavy vegetarian salad field. A swim within the sea eases aching toes and legs and we watch a wind-down yoga session on the golden-lit seaside from a pontoon.

The Icebug Xperience takes place in early September, as soon as the Swedish faculties have gone again, so we just about have the campsite to ourselves. Hearty breakfasts and dinners are included within the package deal and the evenings are convivial. This 12 months’s occasion will embrace meals vehicles, music and an out of doors cinema.

On day two, poetically titled Woods and Islands, after a brief bus experience to the beginning, we resolve to take a sanctioned shortcut to maintain the gap to 20km as an alternative of 30km. My son’s frightened it’s dishonest however I’m aware of his age and remind him that working simply over 60km in three days will nonetheless be an enormous achievement.

The shiny blue sea sparkles all around us.
The shiny blue sea sparkles throughout us. {Photograph}: Nicklas Elmrin/BILDBYRÅN

We additionally resolve to run the entire thing however slower, at what the Swedes name snacka-tempo or chatting tempo. It’s beautiful to get time alone with him, particularly since he has began secondary college with all of the related swagger and testosterone that brings. I like that that is difficult us each in numerous methods, him on the endurance and mentality entrance and me on velocity and health, however we’re getting by means of it collectively.

We start to undertake some techniques the extra seasoned members make use of, specifically foraging for berries wherever attainable and strolling up the hills and sections with huge boulders, which till now we had been charging by means of. It makes an enormous distinction to our power ranges. Nonetheless, by the point we end in the midst of the afternoon, we’re pretty damaged, and return to the campsite for an ice-bath swim and dinner earlier than collapsing into mattress early.

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Sam’s son sitting down with food in front of him
Journey’s end … Photograph: Sam Haddad

The final day, Ramsvik Rocks, is 26km and the toughest on our tired legs. But it’s by far the most spectacular in terms of scenery, which provides a welcome distraction. We start on one island passing the brightly coloured painted houses of Smögenbryggan, then cross to the mainland. We scramble through thick forest and then, with 10km to go, we cross the swing bridge on to Ramsvik. Eventually we find ourselves running on the stark pink granite boulders that I’d first seen in the pictures and which give today’s stage its name. The shiny blue sea sparkles all around us.

Despite the views, our morale dips at times and at one point I wonder whether we’ll ever make it to the end, but we do, crowds with cowbells clanging us in and cheering as we finish on the sandy beach. The campsite has an air of quiet contentment and deep exhaustion, but my son is beaming as Swedes of all ages come over to congratulate him. I’m tired but happy – and very proud of us both.


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