Norway’s Kirsten Amundsgård took us totally off guard in the final kilometers of the 2021 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail (MIUT). After racing solidly within the top five all day, Amundsgård turned on the afterburners to move up from fourth to second place in the race’s final 90 minutes. In our first interview with Kirsten, she talks about her history with sports and ultrarunning, her highs and lows through MIUT race day, and what happened in the final 15 kilometers when she passed two women to take second.
For more on what happened at the race, check out our MIUT results article for the play-by-play and links to other post-race interviews.
Kirsten Amundsgård Post-2021 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail Interview
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kirsten Amundsgård after her second-place finish at Madeira Island Ultra-Trail. How are you?
Kirsten Amundsgård: I’m good. Thank you.
iRunFar: That was quite a run you had yesterday.
Amundsgård: Yeah, I had a really good finish. So that was fun at the end. So that was good.
iRunFar: Were you expecting such a high result?
Amundsgård: I don’t, well I wasn’t expecting to get the podium.
Amundsgård: But I was kind of hoping more for like top 10 or maybe top five if I had like, a perfect day, but top three was definitely a highlight.
iRunFar: Yeah. You’ve had a strong season, yes?
Amundsgård: Yeah, I actually haven’t done too many races this year. And so this is like my first big race. So that was it was good to have such a good race.
iRunFar: You’re still fairly new to the sport. I mean, a few years, but this is one of your longest races. How did you perform so well?
Amundsgård: I think I’ve, this is like my second 100-kilometer race. I did Lavaredo Ulra Trail two years ago.
iRunFar: And you were fourth.
Amundsgård: And then I was fourth. That was good race and then I was injured a whole lot last season. So that was kind of, I didn’t manage to do any racing.
iRunFar: So it was a good season if you were going to be injured.
Amundsgård: [laughs] Yeah. It was definitely a good season to be injured to say it that way. So it was good to be back now and do a long race.
iRunFar: Yeah. Did you feel confident in your, your preparation before the race? Did you feel strong?
Amundsgård: I didn’t feel too confident. But I had a good training like from this summer and until now, so that was good. But it was, I had a really good day or a night when I started so, so that was good.
iRunFar: You felt good at the start.
Amundsgård: I felt good at the start. I was like really enjoying my time through the night so that was good. And I was like, I hadn’t felt like good in a really long time. So that kind of made me confident.
iRunFar: In that nice portion you were in third position a lot of the time.
iRunFar: Did you feel, did you know that? Did you feel pressure?
Amundsgård: No, I didn’t, I didn’t have any support along the route. So I didn’t know kind of how I was but I heard what an aid station said about 40k I think. Then I heard that I was third.
Amundsgård: But I tried to like not think too much of kind of my position and just try to do my own race and just do the eating and drinking and just to keep my routine just to get through the whole race.
iRunFar: And then later in the race it you’re in third position a long time and then it became dynamic. What was happening?
Amundsgård: I think I was struggling a bit from Pico Ruivo. After all the uphills and we started downhill there. My legs were a bit crushed.
Amundsgård: And then I think it’s Sabrina [Stanley]. She had a really, really fast pace on the downhills there. I didn’t have a chance to keep up with her. But I just, I tried to like keep up my pace. And at least so I, I was more thinking about that. I shouldn’t be overtaken by the ones that were coming behind.
iRunFar: Even more. Yeah.
Amundsgård: And then I was super surprised when there were like 15 kilometers left and then I saw Sabrina again. And then I got so much energy and…
iRunFar: Fifteen kilometers.
Amundsgård: Yeah, 15 kilometers left, and I got so much energy from that. And then I just overtook her and just was running, was looking over my shoulder the whole way.
iRunFar: But then you look ahead and…
Amundsgård: Yeah, and two kilometers left, and it was just the final downhill into the city center and so nice. [I] saw Ekaterina [Mityaeva], and I was like, what is happening? And then I just thought, Okay, I just have to give it my all and just run straight past her and then hope that it will keep to the finish. So that was a really good finish.
iRunFar: Fun way to run a race.
Amundsgård: It was quite tough from 80 to 100 kilometers. But then it got better.
iRunFar: It could have changed. It could have continued to get…
Amundsgård: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So it is ups and downs always in ultras.
iRunFar: And not just physical but yeah, mental.
Amundsgård: Mentally as well. Yeah, it was just crazy. Kind of the energy that you get when you get, when you see someone in front of you again.
iRunFar: Yeah, it’s interesting if, maybe to think about how someone can, without seeing someone think about yeah, they’re just around the next corner.
Amundsgård: Yeah. Yeah, because I saw that yesterday, that how much energy I actually had, even though I felt completely crushed. So it’s like, yeah, you have to kind of think of the mental thing as well. And try to maybe visualize that to keep the pace up, even though you don’t have anyone in front of you.
iRunFar: Is this the end of your season?
Amundsgård: Yeah, it will be the end of the season now for, so hopefully there will be some snow now so we can ski for the winter.
iRunFar: I was wondering, I want to ask you about that both, you know, what is your history with sports? Are you originally a runner? Did you participate in other athletics?
Amundsgård: I’m originally cross-country skier.
Amundsgård: So I did cross-country skiing until I was 20. So that’s my final, was my main sport. And then I had a couple of years where I didn’t train too much and then I started running and then just kept on going further, further.
iRunFar: And the running is now your, your primary.
Amundsgård: Yeah, but that’s my primary.
iRunFar: Will you run through the winter or will you do some running and some skiing?
Amundsgård: I will do both. But I try to keep running through the winter as well because then it’s easier when spring comes. It’s not that big of a transition.
iRunFar: Will it be like focused training or you just go out and run 50 or 80 kilometers in a week or?
Amundsgård: It will not be kind of as focused but just run when I feel like it and have the time. Yeah. Do more like interval sessions and those kinds of things on the running.
Amundsgård: And then do the longer sessions on ski touring.
iRunFar: So you’re ski touring now, not so much with Nordic or sometimes?
Amundsgård: Yeah, I do both but we, in the area we live, it’s really good for ski touring. So I try to do that as well. And, but I also do cross-country skiing.
iRunFar: You were, you were sharing your kind of, people probably see you on Instagram, so like Kilian [Jornet] and Emelie [Forsberg] in the same area of Norway.
iRunFar: So you can picture the…
Amundsgård: It’s a really good area for skiing.
iRunFar: For backcountry skiing. Awesome. What do you have in your mind for the future?
Amundsgård: Just planning now the next season. So hopefully I could do some good races then, and I will see. All right, yeah.
iRunFar: Well, congratulations on your great race and see you again.
Amundsgård: Thank you. Yeah, perfect.