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February 14, 2018 4 min read

Here at Duffler, we're all about experiences and memories. 

That's why we're thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered up with the awesome exercise companyChallengize for their summer race, Stockholm Multi-Island Run (SMIR). SMIR is a one-day race through the entire Stockholm archipelago's eight largest islands, from north Arholma to south Utö. 

Last week we had the chance to sit down with the Challengize CEO, Nicholas Roman, who revealed the awesome concepts behind Challengize and the unique SMIR experiential race.


What is Challengize?

We’ve grown into a health partner for companies to help them with their proactive and aspiring health. So the basis of what we do is an online challenge so we have a company dividing into teams and they challenge each other to find everyday healthy exercise. So we’re trying to get people to just do a little more than yesterday, basically keep it really simple. What we strive for is (our mission statement), “to get people active and have fun together.”

Tell us a bit about yourself and what was the inspiration behind Challengize.

Though we started the business five years ago, the Challengize brand really developed last year. What drove me to it was seeing health initiatives that weren’t really doing the job anymore, they weren’t reaching the people who needed to exercise, they were reaching the people who already were active. I brought it to my two colleagues -- at the time everybody was doing step challenges -- and I said we could do this so much better. Because if you measure who can walk the farthest, like a step challenge, you’re just going to engage the people who are really active already. Even if you measure time, you’re still promoting the active ones, one minute one point, 30 minutes 30 points, who’s going to win that? The active people. The person who needs to get active, they’re not going to take part because there’s no point.

We’ve created an algorithm based on some scientific data from our researcher at the Karolinska Institute and a study from the US. What we do is we give points to you and your team for who you are and what you’ve done. So we’re going much deeper, looking physically at who you are: height, weight, age, gender, and psychologically how are you feeling, how active do you feel, so we tailor everything to each individual. So 10 people doing the same thing get 10 different results, which is really cool, because we can guarantee the person who needs the exercise the most will get more points than the active person who just keeps going and going and going. We try to get everybody feeling, “I can take part, I can have fun, I don’t have to compete with you anyway or we can have an even playing field” -- sort of like a golf handicap, have the best golfer and not a good golfer competing on an equal level.

What is training with Challengize like?

We can have a company say that we want to do a Run Club, so we send a running coach to them and we have a concept rooftop training where they go up on the roof, and we do a training session with a group up there. We can do a normal group training, whatever, Sweden run training, whatever they want, we can tailor it to them. But it’s always a group activity, and its always having fun together. If an amateur turns up or if a triathlete turns up, everybody can take part. We do a lot of inspirational work as well, sort of lectures, we do lectures ourselves to the companies, or we hire in professional speakers. We also provide digital health tips and inspiration, to get people to get healthy from within through the “having fun with your friends” aspect, not the scientific one--you’re too fat, you have high blood pressure--because that’s sort of scary. We just want to get people to have fun.

stockholm multi island run

Could you tell us more about your races, in particular, SMIR?

We have four races and they all sort of started as really silly ideas that have grown into something really big. We do what we call experience races, so it’s not about getting a lot of people, we limit it to around 70, but we make it a unique experience instead. And all our races you’re paired up one-on-one, so it’s not you running as fast as you can, it’s two pairing up and helping each other finish.

For us, everything is an experience. Training on a roof, at 7:30 in the morning, 14 stories up, while Stockholm is waking up, that’s the experience. The actual training you can do that anywhere--park, gym--but the experience is being--and that’s why people want to be there, because it’s cool, they have something to talk about. It's the storytelling bit. When we do the races, it’s only the experience. Getting to these places, and doing these races, that basically nobody's done before.

SMIR is a world-unique experience, because you can’t do this type of race too many other places, bouncing off of eight islands like that. We race from the north of the Stockholm archipelago all the way down to the south, taking a boat in between the islands. SMIR covers 75 km - far, but it’s eight separate races, with the longest 13km and the shortest 5km -- it’s just you do eight races the same day. And the whole thing is that, withAllemannsretten in Sweden, you can run around wherever you want, it’s not private property. So on each island, we drop people off here, and tell them you have to get there. And then how you make it there is up to you. You can run through the woods or take the roads or run across fields - it’s entirely up to you how to navigate between the checkpoint and the finish.

Is there any place around Stockholm you would recommend for the average adventurer?

I’d just say go out into the archipelago in the summer. It’s never dark. It’s so cool. And just go island-hopping, or island-swimming. Swim-running - just bring a floating bag with you and just swim between the islands. It's fantastic. 

Nicolas’ favorite island?-- Runmarö

This year's Stockholm Multi-Island Race will be held on July 7, 2018.