The 2013 Transvulcania Ultramarathon champion Emelie Forsberg is riding high after an exciting end to her ski-mountaineering season last weekend in Italy. In this interview, find out about her team’s win of the iconic Trofeo Mezzalama skimo race, how she’s prepared for this year’s Transvulcania, and her reflections on her race-ending injury early in last year’s race.
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Emelie Forsberg Pre-2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here in La Palma in the Canary Islands of Spain with Emelie Forsberg ahead of the 2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon. How’s it going?
Emelie Forsberg: Good! I’m happy to be here.
iRunFar: You said you just finished your 11th run of 2015. It’s so early to race this distance.
Forsberg: Yes, it is. I told you before that I changed my mind. My plan was not to race it, to ease a bit more into the running season, but it just made my schedule easier later on this distance. So I just do this to take pleasure and try to enjoy.
iRunFar: You’re back this year after a not-so-pleasurable year last year. Early in the race you fell and injured your hand pretty badly. You have a scar from it, don’t you?
Forsberg: Yes, the muscle was hanging out. I didn’t realize it was so bad. I just kept running. Then I started feeling really bad. Then I said, “I hurt myself. Can we put plaster on it?” They said, “No, the muscle is…” It was rough but okay.
iRunFar: You’ve had sort of dueling experiences—a really bad hand injury and a win. So, coming into the race this year, what goes through your head when you have two emotionally different experiences?
Forsberg: I feel like I cannot put any expectations on me. I feel relaxed because it would not be fair to myself to say that I can win. I know that I am strong. I feel super strong after this winter, but it is… I don’t think people realize that it is a bit hard to change actually. It might look easy on Kilian [Jornet] and I could win two years ago, but it’s not easy. I will see how it goes. I will do my best.
iRunFar: I think a lot of your fans and fans of the sport look at people who convert from true winter sports to summer sports and they say, “Oh, how did they do it? This is just their 11th run, or this is their third run.” You say it’s not easy. How, tangibly, does it feel hard? What’s hard about it? Is it muscles? Is it mental?
Forsberg: Yeah, my first one was the second of April this year. It was on Mallorca, another island. You just feel really heavy in your body because you are super strong moving uphill, but it’s not the bouncing. You don’t move the legs so high, so you just feel heavy. The flat is horrible because you don’t have the speed. Yeah, I feel awkward.
iRunFar: I think you might be mortal, because those are similar feelings normal runners have when they’re trying to get back in after a break.
Forsberg: Yeah, for sure. I feel I’m not a runner in the winter. Absolutely not.
iRunFar: I want to ask you, for a minute, about your winter. First of all, congratulations on your win at Mezzalama last weekend. It’s a truly iconic ski-mountaineering race, and your team was the underdog coming into the race. Huge congratulations.
Forsberg: Thank you.
iRunFar: When you look back at how your winter racing and ski-touring went, what are your thoughts on your winter?
Forsberg: I am super happy. This winter really took it to another level. I have always been fighting for good positions, like podiums, but this year I felt much stronger. I felt like I had everything under control, and I could really see a change. I took a step up. It was a pleasure to win this race. It was one of the biggest winters I have done both in running and skiing. It was huge. I’m super happy for it. It made my year. Now I can just ahhhhhhhhh. I don’t need to do anything more. I’m so happy!
iRunFar: Awesome. “If you need me, I’ll be on one of those beach chairs.” When you look at your ski season and you say you took it to another level, was it your skill set that came around? Was it just your fitness for ski-mo? What felt better this year?
Forsberg: I think it’s both because it’s a new sport to me kind of. It’s my second year of racing at this level. Before, I was a cross-country skier and a telemark skier. So going from telemark to randonnee, it is different for sure. I think both. I have more experience, and I am, I think, physically a bit stronger because some years of doing it makes you stronger.
iRunFar: Something else you’ve been at for a couple of years is mountain running. You’re back at Transvulcania again. You’ve got some races on your schedule this summer that are repeats. What keeps you coming back to some of the same races over and over and the same style of summer play?
Forsberg: I think, first, I really like all the Skyrunning races. I like the atmosphere and also because it’s a series. Then I also add new races because it motivates me. All the races that I have been doing, it’s because I want to improve. It’s easy to do a race again to see if you improve.
iRunFar: I know one race, when I look back on your season last year, that you’d like to improve on is Trofeo Kima. No Kima this year, so you’ll have to wait?
Forsberg: Yeah, I know. It was a pity. I had such a good time. I was half-an-hour in front of the record running easy and ehhh… It was a mistake and that happens. I will be back there for sure.
iRunFar: Kima waits another year. Maybe there are a couple races on your schedule this year that are maybe different and maybe equally motivating?
Forsberg: Yeah, like Alaska—Mount Marathon. I am so excited to go there! I’m really looking forward to go there.
iRunFar: Is it stories Rickey Gates has told? Is it watching the videos online? What inspires you?
Forsberg: Both. Rickey has been talking so much about it. Then I started to announce that maybe I would go there if I get an entry. I get a lot of messages from Alaska people, “Yeah, we’re so happy that you’re coming! This race is amazing!” I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a bit short, so it will motivate me to train a little bit shorter and not to do these longer days that I love to do. So June is going to be mostly focused on short training which will be nice.
iRunFar: You also had said that you’re signed up and planning to do all the races in all of the Skyrunning series—the Vertical K, the shorter distance, and then the longer distance. So you are going to have to do some longer stuff in there, too.
Forsberg: Yeah, I will… like this. I’m not prepared for this, but will be so I have the three races. Then Tromsø—even if I’m organizing it, I will try to run. The Ice Trail [Tarentaise], the European championship. Then the Ultra Pirineu. Maybe The Rut. I want to go back. Like three years ago, I was new to the sport and I wanted to do everything. I didn’t think about positions or recovering. I just did it for the pleasure. I said it to Greg [Vollet], my team manager at Salomon, that I wanted to go back to have that feeling, not to think about results. I just want to do it. He said, “Okay, we try.” I’m happy for that.
iRunFar: What kind of adventures or travels to go mountain running do you want to do this summer?
Forsberg: I want to spend some time in Norway, so me and Kilian are going to drive up the car for Tromsø and we’re going to stop and do a lot of mountains on the way. I want to go back to Nepal. We’ll see how everything is there after the earthquake. I also have some really nice ideas to do with Salomon. It’s a secret for now, but it will be super fun… with only girls, so it will be super fun.
iRunFar: Yeah, girls! Best of luck to you this weekend.
Forsberg: Thank you.
iRunFar: Every time I see you out there, I’m going to be looking at your hands to be sure they’re still okay.
Forsberg: I’m going to start with buffs around the hands to protect me from falling.
iRunFar: If anybody has any bubble wrap, just bubble wrap your hands.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you. We look forward to seeing you out there. Thanks, Emelie.
Forsberg: Thank you.