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July 03, 2018 4 min read

SMIR - Stockholm’s Multi-Island Race - is all about having fun in Sweden’s most iconic and summery archipelago. 

SMIR is a one-day race through the entire Stockholm archipelago's eight largest islands, from north Arholma to south Utö. 

Read More: Unique Races, Unique Places: An Interview with Challengize Founder, Nicolas Roman

This Saturday, July 7, DUFFLER is sponsoring SMIR by Challengize. TEAM DUFFLER will be represented by marathon racers Claude Chèvre and Erik Hjelmstedt. Claude is from Switzerland and employed at Hannover RE, a global insurance company based in Hannover, Germany. Duffler sat down with him this week to chat about the upcoming race.

Map of the Route + Team Duffler: Erik (top) and Claude (bottom)

Photos Courtesy of SMIR by Challengize

What are the challenges with this unique race?

I’m quite excited but nervous about the race. I have a feeling it will be quite difficult, because of the way it is organized—each island race bookended with a boat ride, a boat that leaves the docks at a specific time—you need to make a minimum time for each island, otherwise you miss the boat. I expect that these intervals of run, boat, run, boat, will be quite a challenge. I imagine after 50K of racing like this, it will become more and more difficult to reach the boats in time.

Another difficulty is that you have to read the maps. I’ve checked the SMIR maps and Google Maps extensively, and there are a few islands that might present a challenge. Some islands are small, with just one road, while on others, it’s not really clear which way you need to run. The question is always: are you going to run the safe way but longer distance, with the risk that you don’t reach the boat in time, or take shortcuts that might be less guaranteed? With respect to the maps, you never know the terrain looks like in reality. I’m not familiar with these islands.

The fun will be if we’re able to get to all the 8 islands—but again you never know! If you read the map wrongly, if you get lost, you cannot make up the lost time. In the long islands, you might try, but in the short ones, you’re just off. So getting the roads right is for me absolute crucial. We need to make sure. Some of the islands are trivial, easy, there is only one road, and you just run but others, you really need to decide and I think everything depends on that. It’s like a treasure hunt.


 What are you expecting from SMIR?

My goal is to have fun and challenge myself. My colleague Erik and I, we’re the same age, we’re not young guys who run 200 km without breathing. When I signed up, I told them I wasn’t picky about my partner—as long as they weren’t too ambitious and weren’t too focused on winning. I’d be happy to just to make the eight islands to the end.

After I signed up, I met Erik in Stockholm. We had a slow jog around 6:30am from my hotel in a nice park. It was quite nice—we got to know each other, to see how the other looks like, how we run together, the speed at which we run. We tried to figure out the best pace between us.

How have you trained for SMIR?

I’ve spent around 8 weeks preparing for this race. I’ve run a lot of marathons in my life, around 25 of various types: standard, multi, adventure, ultra. I’ve done the K78 Swiss Alp Marathon, which is kind of the same distance as what we’re going to do on Saturday.

But I think SMIR is going to be very different, because you run and then you sit on the boat. I’ve checked the distances of the islands, so time on the boat must be anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. This interval, running then resting, then running then resting, is very unique. When you have a long run, an ultra marathon, then you run the way you want: I typically do run and walk intervals. I’ll run 12 minutes, then walk 3 minutes, and continue that way for say 100K. Here, it’s different, because when you have to run, you really have to run, because of the cut-off time. The spurts are going to be a challenge.

I usually run every week around 60-70K, just for fun and to keep fit. But training for this race has been different. I’ve been increasing my mileage each week, doing slow jogs of 40K each on the weekends, just to get used to the distance. Since we’ll be running for 8-10 hours at these intervals, you have to train the body to run such a long distance. This week, I’ve been decreasing my mileage, as you normally do before a race, so you keep fit and not tired.

What is Adventure for you?

Adventure for me is exploring the unknown. This is really the essence of SMIR. I don’t know what these islands look like, I can’t even anticipate the terrain with google maps. Can you walk through the forest, can you run, how dense is it, how steep—it’s all unknown. So this is the adventure, the fun of it. I don’t want to prepare too much in advance, this just takes away the spirit of adventure. The Unknown combines with physical effort, brings you to test the limits of your abilities. This is the whole idea of adventure.