Since putting herself on the international mountain-running map by taking third at the 2012 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon (post-race interview), Emelie Forsberg has established herself as one of the best female mountain runners in the world. In this interview, Emelie talks about the fall that forced her to drop from Transvulcania two weeks ago, the medical treatment she received, and if she’s returned to running. Emelie also reflects on her love of Zegama and her excitement about racing Stevie Kremer, another women’s favorite.
Be sure to check out our detailed preview of the women’s and men’s fields at the Zegama Marathon to see who else is running this weekend.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Emelie Forsberg Pre-2014 Zegama Marathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Emelie Forsberg before the 2014 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon. How are you?
Emelie Forsberg: I’m good, yeah.
iRunFar: Last time we spoke was before Transvulcania. You were excited as was everybody else who was starting. What happened just after the start?
Forsberg: Yeah, you know the start is crazy. After 200 meters you enter a small trail. Just the second step on the trail I got a big push because it’s crazy there and I just fell and I was thinking, I look at it, I felt the blood, but I was just, Okay, it’s nothing. So I started to continue running. When it got sunny I looked at it because I only had my headlamp on and I didn’t want to waste my time looking at it. But when the sun came I was just, Ooh, it looks bad—the muscle, the tendon was hanging out. I was just, Meh, six more hours. I can do that and then they’ll take care of it. But then I started to feel dizzy and at the second aid station the ambulance said, “No, you can’t continue running.” I said, “Yeah, give me the water and I will run.” They said, “No.”
iRunFar: So they made you stop.
Forsberg: Yes, because I had my mind just to continue running, but I realize now that it was good that they made me stop.
iRunFar: Where were you? Were you with Anna [Frost]?
Forsberg: No, actually at Los Canarios we were together and it was easy because in that place I felt quite good after the ski season. But then, the energy started to go to here and I needed to run like this [arm in air] for the last bit. Yeah, I started to feel like something really wasn’t good, but I didn’t think it was this. I was just not used to running. But I think it was this.
iRunFar: So since then… or you went to the hospital and you had some minor surgery? You got stitches, yes?
Forsberg: Yes, but they needed to clean it for quite awhile because a lot of rocks in there. They actually made me sleep because…
iRunFar: It was really painful.
iRunFar: So the volcanic pumice…
Forsberg: Yeah, they worked a lot of that. It was 12 stitches and it’s pretty deep. They just took them out actually yesterday. It’s still open, yeah.
iRunFar: I didn’t think it was that bad because I saw you at the finish line and you were smiling and happy. You had a little help with that, yes?
Forsberg: Yes, but I also was really happy for Luis Alberto [Hernando] because he finally got to show how good he is because he’s always that good but he’s just in the shadow behind Kilian [Jornet]. Also Frosty, two years of injuries and she’s back and she’s strong and she’s happy, so I was really happy for both of them.
iRunFar: For both of your friends, yeah. I’ve seen some pictures of you in the mountains the last couple of days. Have you been able to get out a little bit?
Forsberg: Yeah, the first week… it’s only two weeks ago… the first week I had antibiotics and it really killed everything. You know how everything is just low. So I was just… I wanted to run, so I started to run, but it was just one hour and then I was really, really dizzy. So the first week I didn’t run much, and now I had three days of where I felt good running. So I’m really happy for that. It’s not the best preparation, but I know that and I feel really relaxed because I love this race.
iRunFar: Speaking of this race, two years ago more or less no one knew who you were when you showed up at Zegama. It was your debut for all intents and purposes. Now two years later, everybody knows Emelie Forsberg. What’s it like coming back here? Does it feel like coming back to your start?
Forsberg: Yeah, it really does. It’s really special because it was my first experience with Skyrunning and this ambiance and how big it is. I loved it from the beginning because I’d always loved being out in the mountains and just being here sharing it with all the people was amazing.
iRunFar: Were you third that year?
iRunFar: And then last year you came and just won by quite a bit.
Forsberg: Not so much. I think I passed Stevie Kremer before the summit of Aizkorri, the uphill there in the technical. Then I took quite a lot in the technical part. But then in the end I think I was a bit relaxed like, Okay, I don’t need to push now. If they come, I know that I have more to give. I didn’t win so much—two minutes to Núria [Picas] I think. It’s not very much.
iRunFar: You had a…
Forsberg: It was comfortable.
iRunFar: Last year you had a very good rivalry with Stevie. You raced a bunch of times and were close very often.
Forsberg: And with Núria, too, eh?
iRunFar: Yeah. Well, Núria isn’t coming this weekend.
Forsberg: Oh, she isn’t?
iRunFar: No, not after The North Face Australia last weekend.
Forsberg: No, I understand that.
iRunFar: But Stevie, what’s it like racing Stevie so often?
Forsberg: Yeah, it’s really nice to have someone so strong and she’s really focused on two-to-four-hour races. For me, you know, I love everything. It’s pretty hard to just concentrate on this kind of races that she does. For sure I’m not fast in everything. But when you specialize that much like Stevie and Kasie [Enman] are doing, then you get really strong. So for me it’s always hard to race them because they are really used to those hours of training. But it’s really fun. Stevie is really strong. She’s amazing. I think she’s really one of the strongest.
iRunFar: So you think she can give you a challenge this weekend?
Forsberg: Oh, for sure. She will. She always starts very fast and it will be fun.
iRunFar: Are you going to be worrying about your hand? Last year you were saying that you really made up the most time on the technical part.
Forsberg: I really don’t know. I don’t want to take any risks because the doctors say that I shouldn’t really run and I should absolutely not fall on it. So I always feel confident on technical. I have never been falling on technical. But maybe when you start to think about it, it’s like… I don’t know. I will try not to think about it. I’ll just be comfortable and not push it.
iRunFar: It’s a beautiful day in Zegama. We can’t really believe it. It’s not supposed to be a good day on Sunday. Typical cold, lots of rain, snow up high…
Forsberg: Scandinavian weather.
iRunFar: What shoes are you going to wear?
Forsberg: I think Salomon Sense Soft Ground actually. Last year I wore normal Sense because I really like the Sense on the technical. I feel really comfortable and light with those shoes, so I’m thinking of normal Sense. It depends. If it’s going to rain tomorrow and Sunday, it can be really muddy. Then it can be worth taking Soft Ground instead.
iRunFar: Salomon does a lot of modified shoes for its athletes. Are your Soft Grounds standard?
Forsberg: No, I have a…
iRunFar: Or have you all changed yours?
Forsberg: My favorite shoe is actually, not two years ago I asked Patrick for a set with a Fellcross sole and I really like that one for me. I’m thinking of having it here, but it depends on the mud. We’re going to see tomorrow.
iRunFar: Well, best of luck. Enjoy. And don’t think about your hand.
Forsberg: Thank you. No, I will not. Thank you.