Monday, July 09, 2018

Emelie Forsberg Sets New "FKT" on Kungsleden Trail in Sweden

Last week we reported that ultrarunner Emelie Forsberg was attempting a new "fastest known time" on the Kungsleden Trail in Sweden. At the time, she was just starting out on her 450 km (280 mile) run but we knew she hoped to complete the entire route in under five days. Over the weekend we got word of her success in this endeavor, setting an impressive new mark for a trail that holds a special place in Forsberg's heart.

The run got underway at midnight local time on July 3, with Emelie starting at the northern end of the Kungsleden (aka King's Trail). From there, she set off south on a route that typically takes most backpackers about two weeks to walk end-to-end. But when she stopped the clock at the southernmost terminus of the trail, Forsberg had managed to cover the entire distance in 4 days, 21 hours. That's considerably faster than the previous record –– held by Norwegian ultrarunner Sondre Almdahl, who completed the trail in 6 days, 2 hours, and 51 minutes.

At the finish line Forsberg said “I can hardly believe I have done it! When I started planning this route, I looked at the distance, the hut system and the plan we made, and I thought it was possible, but that it would be a big challenge for me. To actually achieve it, it’s a dream come true. I had some really bad moments, but it wouldn’t be a challenge if you didn’t have those, because it makes you learn and appreciate what you’ve done. Now I feel very tired but extremely happy”

Running the Kungsleden was a bit of a homecoming for the ultrarunner, who had a summer job working in one of the trail's huts as a teenager. The first stage of the run covered 116 km (72 miles) from Abisko to Saltoluokta, the location of that hut. It was there that Forsberg took her first rest, with a flood of memories no doubt coming back to her.

After that, it was a 70 km (43 mile) trek to Kvikkjokk before embarking on the third, and wildest stage, a 96 km (59 mile) hike through the most remote section of the Kungsleden. By stage 4 – a 97 km (60 mile) slog – she was starting to feel the weight of the distance she had covered, but was able to shake off the exhaustion and keep pressing forward. Finally, she wrapped things up with the final leg on Saturday, finishing in record time and taking more than a day off of the previous record.

Congrats to Emelie on completing this impressive run in such a short time. The Kungsleden is known to be a challenging trail and she was able to complete the route ahead of the schedule she set for herself. When I do my short little 10 km (6.2 mile) run later today I'll be thinking about the effort she turned in.

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