Just a few days after coming back home after Swiss Epic, it was time to pack the car for another long drive. It was going to be the last road trip with my Kodiaq for this year. It was time for the last race in the Swedish Marathon series in Ulricehamn, a 5-6 hour drive away from where I stay. We did the drive on Thursday so that I could ride a bit on the course on Friday. It was a muddy route with a lot of single tracks and the rain did not seem to stop at all during the day and night.
I was a bit nervous since it was a very tight start loop with a lot of slippery corners and we started together with the guys. I also had tough competition on the start line from Hildegunn from Norway (she was second at Birkebeinerittet) and Emmy who I was fighting against when I started with MTB, she has now been focusing on the road the last few years so I have not raced against her for a while. Nellie was also in good form after a stage race in Israel a few weeks ago.
I got a good start and it was not as hectic as I anticipated. I pushed everything I had from the start since the first intermediate sprint was already after 8,7 km. I managed to take that and could see that Emmy was about a minute behind already. I tried to push hard on the slippery single tracks and had to concentrate a lot on staying up right! I started to feel tired after 30 km and started to get a bit worried that the others were going to catch. As soon as I saw someone I knew I asked for time gaps. I heard 3 minutes and then at the half way mark my dad told me that I had been 4,5 min ahead at the second intermediate sprint at 33 km. I was in a bunch with guys but did not get much help, they only came to the front when I asked them and often with such speed that I lost the wheel… A bit later I was told that I had 6 minutes to Emmy, I started to wonder where Hildegunn was, she is someone one can never count out so next time I saw Ulf (Nellies boyfriend) I asked where Hildegunn was and she replied that she was in 4th. I carried on and got more and more tired. With 20 km to go I had to start talking to myself to take kilometre by kilometre. It was extremely muddy and it made it really hard and I could see that everyone was getting tired. With 8 kilometres to go I started to doubt if I was going to make it to the finish, I could hardly feel my legs, they were just so tired! It was a big relief to pass the 1 km mark and finally see the finish line!! I eventually won by 14 minutes and it was Nellie who finished strongly to take the second place! Well done Nellie!
This also meant that I won the Swedish Marathon series overall and finished off a fantastic European season! We drove the long way back home after the race and today is packing day since I am flying to South Africa tomorrow. I am really looking forward to seeing all my friends back there, and to get some warm weather as well!
Podium after todays race
Podium for the overall marathon series