It may be Stian Angermund-Vik’s first time racing the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon, but he was previously a competitive biathlete and he also has had previous skyrunning success. In our first interview with this Norwegian, find out about his sporting history, his 2016 of skyrunning and mountain running, what he thinks of his Zegama experience so far, and where his 2017 of racing will take him.
Stian Angermund-Vik Pre-2017 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Stian Angermund-Vik before the 2017 Zegama Marathon. How are you?
Stian Angermund-Vik: I’m fine. Feeling great.
iRunFar: This is your first trip to Zegama. What have you heard about the race?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, it’s the first trip. I’ve been talking to friends, and they say that if there’s one race you need to do, it’s Zegama.
iRunFar: Why is that?
Angermund-Vik: Just because of the people, I heard. They’re really great.
iRunFar: You actually get two tastes of that because you’re running the marathon on Sunday, but this afternoon, you’ll also run the vertical kilometer, yes?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, it’s true. I think when I’m finally here, I need to run as much as possible.
iRunFar: Maybe an easy day on Saturday?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, probably, just take it easy.
iRunFar: Have you run a vertical kilometer before?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, plenty. Two times before here in Spain, but not here.
iRunFar: Do you train toward that, or do yo mostly train for the Sky-distance races?
Angermund-Vik: In Norway it’s most popular with uphill running races, so because of that, I’ve been training more for the VK, but the VK training is good for the Sky races.
iRunFar: That said, last year and the year before, you had some really good results in the Sky distances. What are some of those highlights?
Angermund-Vik: The biggest highlight for me was the Buff Epic Trail last year, the world championships for Skyrunning.
iRunFar: Which you won?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, the VK and the Sky Race, so that was a good weekend for me.
iRunFar: You’ve also had good results at Glencoe and Tromso?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, Glencoe was a really nice race. I did run the short Sky Race there at 29k and the VK there. It was so beautiful.
iRunFar: Tromso as well—was that two years ago or last year?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, both, the VK there. The Vertical is a little bit of scrambling. It’s quite a cool race.
iRunFar: You’ve done quite a bit of racing these past two years?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, absolutely. I like to travel around and look at new places and see new culture.
iRunFar: What’s your history in sport? Do you come from another background or have you always been a runner?
Angermund-Vik: No, I’ve been doing biathlon earlier when I was a teenager. I was not super good at it, but it was a cool sport. When I was 20, I did stop doing sport for some years, then I took up more running. I’ve been doing more and more of that the last couple of years.
iRunFar: What got you into running? What was the draw? How did you get into it?
Angermund-Vik: My cousin invited me to a race in the city where I live now in Bergen, Norway, a local uphill race. I did that for some years and found that this was cool, and I wanted to do more of that.
iRunFar: When did you decide to go all in and compete at a very high level in Skyrunning?
Angermund-Vik: I did not decide, “Now I’m going to go for it.” It happened a little bit more and more. The results became a little bit better and better, and I was trying to train more and more.
iRunFar: I assume you’re going to make an attempt to do really well in the entire Skyrunning series this year?
Angermund-Vik: I’m doing not the whole series. There are so many races. I’m not strong enough to race so much. I’m going to do six of the VK races, so I’m doing the VK series, and then just three races in the Sky races series.
iRunFar: That’s enough to place in the series?
Angermund-Vik: Yes, it’s enough to have fun.
iRunFar: Is that your goal, to try to become world champion in one of those series, either the VK or the Sky series?
Angermund-Vik: I’m not sure what to expect how the level is but hopefully doing good. I’m not focusing on the whole series just trying to do and good as possible at the places I go to.
iRunFar: This weekend at Zegama, it’s almost like two different races—the first half of the race isn’t flat, but it’s rolling and fast. The second half has a ton of climbing, really technical sections, and a steep downhill. How are you going to approach the two different sections?
Angermund-Vik: I think the first part is just to try to run with the others and not waste too much energy and not push too much. Then, my weakness is the downhill, so…
iRunFar: You anticipated my question.
Angermund-Vik: The last part of the race is downhill, so I think I need to try to save some energy there through that section.
iRunFar: What do you think holds you back on the downhill? Is it just how fast you can move your legs, or is it on technical trail particularly? What’s the challenge for you?
Angermund-Vik: Maybe it’s a mental thing—I’m not tough enough to push as fast as I can in downhill maybe? I’m not used to running so much downhill, so I’m trying to do it in training. Of course, if it’s very technical, I’m struggling a little bit.
iRunFar: Well, you’ll certainly have some terrain to practice on on Sunday. Is there any part of the race you’re really looking forward to or any aspect?
Angermund-Vik: I’ve heard—I don’t know the names of all the places—but I’ve heard some of the climbs have spectators, so I’m really looking forward to those places.
iRunFar: All of the climbs up high have a lot of spectators. It’s pretty amazing atmosphere.
Angermund-Vik: That’s good to hear.
iRunFar: When you get to Sancti Spiritu a little over half way in the race, or around mid-race, there’s just thousands of people—good weather, bad weather—all cheering you on.
Angermund-Vik: That sounds amazing. Then maybe it will be difficult to not run slow enough.
iRunFar: I’m guessing people probably go little harder than they should on that climb, but maybe that helps them reach their potential.
Angermund-Vik: Maybe. I heard even though you may have a bad race there, you have a good race because of the people.
iRunFar: I think it’s an experience you’ll enjoy. How about your training in Norway? What is your training like near Bergen?
Angermund-Vik: Bergen is really nice place for mountain running. We have small cozy mountains around 600 meters tall, but they are so close to the city. After work, it’s maybe a half an hour to be at the top of the mountain. I generally run up and down several mountains and enjoy myself. It’s good.
iRunFar: Sounds perfect. Six hundred meters is most of the way through a VK.
Angermund-Vik: Yeah, and you do that a couple of times, and you get a lot of climb.
iRunFar: Interval training?
Angermund-Vik: Yeah, kind of.
iRunFar: You said you don’t feel you’re tough enough on the descents, but to me, doing a vertical kilometer is so difficult because you’re really working hard for between 30 and 40 minutes. How do you push through that?
Angermund-Vik: I need to be prepared for the pain and focus. When you’re struggling with a lot of pain, you can push forward and continue… and know that all the other people around me are struggling just as much as I am.
iRunFar: I find it interesting that a lot of the runners who come… a lot of people who do the VK might use poles especially people who come from a Nordic-skiing background, but you don’t. Why is that?
Angermund-Vik: I don’t like poles. For me, it’s just for skiing. I’ve never run with poles.
iRunFar: None today and none on Sunday?
Angermund-Vik: No, absolutely not. Too much things to handle. To handle the legs is more than enough.
iRunFar: Best of luck in both races. Enjoy.
Angermund-Vik: Thank you!