Swedish Team Nordic Islands Adventure Race, comprising Staffan Björklund, Marika Wagner, Christian Ekström and Sara Hougberg, will be competing in the XPD Adventure Race 2018, to be held in late March in Tasmania, Australia. Team Captain Staffan took some time out to talk about their training in the Scandinavian winter and of their expectations for the race as it looms ahead, now just a few weeks away.
Besides being very successful adventure racers, the Swedish Team are themselves organisers of an event, the Nordic Islands Adventure Race, which will take place 12-18 August 2018, travelling from Sweden across the Baltic to the Åland Islands and from there to Finland. For more information, see below.
First a bit of Form
Staffan Björklund - I have competed in XPD once before, in 2016, when it was held in Shoalhaven in New South Wales as the Adventure Race World Championship final for that year, but the rest of the team is new to the race. In fact Sara and Christian are new to adventure racing entirely, though they have considerable experience of outdoor sports and general fitness. Marika and I are experienced adventure racers – we have podium finishes in Chile and South Africa in the Adventure Race World Series and we placed third in the European Championship in 2017. We were also World Champions in Swim-Run in 2015, with a new course record, and we placed 2nd in 2016 and 2017.
Why the XPD?
We chose XPD because of the location. We’re always keen to explore new corners of the globe and Tasmania has always been on the list. Also, you know you'll get a good and fair race because Craig and Louise are organising it.
What training have you been doing ? Has it been easy?
We have not done any training together. This winter in Stockholm and Åland has been pretty mild luckily, which has allowed Marika and me to do our regular training, much of which is outdoors. However, I know a lot of hours have also been spent inside on a spinning bike, treadmill and the gym.
We have been coaching/mentoring Sara and Christian for some time now, so they should be well prepared even though they have very little experience of kayaking. We do know one another pretty well through work and I think we are as prepared for the race as we can be. Now we’re just waiting for the final newsletter with all the information about the different sections of the course.
What are you looking forward to?
All the things that adventure racing brings - exploring a place that we have never visited before, this time Tasmania, meeting people along the way, and racing with the team out in the back country.
Anything you’re not looking forward to?
Not really. If anything, it would be the long trip out there and back home, but in fact I quite enjoy long flights and being digitally disconnected.
What do you find so compelling about adventure racing?
I grew up watching adventure racing on TV. The thing I find inspiring is to see what a team of four people can achieve together and how far they can push themselves to reach the finish line. So many things happen during a race, both to yourself and your team-mates around you. And it’s all about how you get through them and overcome the difficulties. Curiosity is another huge factor for me, to know what it’s like out there, and that I can cope with it. It will also be interesting to race for the first time in a team with two women. It’s one of the awesome things about adventure racing, that we race under the same roof and rules.
About the Nordic Islands Adventure Race
We have two main things in mind that we'd like to achieve with NIAR. First, we want it to be a race for racers, treating them and making them feel like professional athletes. Hotel, food, information, safety, logistics, media, the course/race, staff, and more, everything will be well thought through and professionally taken care of. Next we hope to help Adventure Racing to grow, creating a profile for the sport and getting the word out about the teams, their history and personalities. We’d like to create a new audience for Adventure Racing - as well as to recapture the old audience from 15 years ago - and to tell them and show them stories of the extraordinary effort and endeavour of the athletes and the sport. And we hope that this in turn will lead to more sponsorship and partner opportunities for the teams in the future! See the Nordic Islands AR website.
See more information about XPD Tasmania 2018.