Vår trailkock Billy White ger oss en sallad Nicoise på böckling – och en spännande rapport från High Coast Ultra.
The main focus race I’ve had for this spring/summer was the High Coast Ultra, 129k taking in the whole of the world heritage Höga kusten trail from Örnsköldsvik to the Höga kusten bridge just outside Härnösand.
This was my third race of 100k or more, and it was beginning to feel like I was getting to grip with this sort of distance. So far I normally feel good until about 40k then go through a few painful hours, where I question why I’m doing this and my body struggles the relentless forward motion. Then between 80-90k something has kicked me back to life, and the miles tick by painlessly and smoothly for a couple of hours.
That was not the case with this race!
Starting at the stroke of midnight from the centre of Örnsköldsvik and heading south, you are met with a climb out of town heading off up the trail.
Starting the longest run you’ve ever done, when all you really want to do is go to bed is a strange feeling. I couldn’t escape the tired feeling in the eyes for the first few hours. The terrain was most runnable for the first 40k, quite technical but nothing too difficult until you reach the iconic Skuleskogen. The trail becomes extremely rocky and demanding underfoot, until suddenly there you are in the middle of this amazing crevasse with vertical walls towering over you on either side. These surroundings were enough to spark me into life and the next 10k leading into the first aid station were great.
After a quick bite to eat and a change of t-shirt, I set off feeling wide awake and moving well. Then out of nowhere I tripped in a hidden tree root and fell with all my body weight on a tree stump on my thigh. The resulting dead leg essentially ended my day. I hobbled on hoping that the pain would subside and I’d be able to run it off but unfortunately not.
Time for plan B, if you can’t run…… walk. The remaining 80 kilometres took considerably longer than I had hoped and I basically didn’t run a single step further.
The trail was beautiful and so difficult, the terrain varied between fields of irregular bowling ball sized rocks, thin planks weaving through the bog, heavily rooted narrow woodland paths that demanded every second of your attention to avoid further stumbles and of course the hills, the frequent steep gnarled paths heading up not so high but endless hills.
I paired up with Robban, a very experienced runner who was also having an off day and we managed to tick off a lot of the miles together. Sharing stories of the trails and trying our best to not complain to much about our various aches and pains. As the hours passed, my pace gradually slowed to a crawl and I was alone for the last hour. The light started to fade slightly and the hallucinations of being awake for 40 hours started, bears and hunters hidden behind trees, pine cone fish on the trail floor, the strangest was the pile of shrimps so vivid that I had to stop moving to take a closer look, turns out it was just some dried leaves. My mantra for the last few kilometres was “almost there and you never have to do this race again”.
Finally after 23 ½ hours I reached the finish line, 5 hours behind my goal, I was met with a cold beer and a bright blue finishers t-shirt I was done. What a day, many thanks to the team the organised this event. One of the smoothest, friendly races I’ve ever done.
After a good night’s sleep, I set off back to Stockholm with thoughts of how to tackle this wonderfully difficult race next year…
Smoked herring Nicoise salad (serves 4)
This is less of a recipe than a collection of good things that go well together for a simple and delicious dinner. It takes no time and is perfect on a warm summer’s evening. Best washed down with a couple of glasses of well chilled rosé. You can easily replace with good quality tinned tuna or smoked mackerel.
3 Smoked herring (böckling) picked apart and as many bones as possible removed
1 head of Romaine salad, washed and roughly chopped
500 g new potatoes, washed and scrubbed, boiled in lightly salted water and chopped
500 g of the nicest ripest tomatoes you can find
4 eggs, soft boiled for 6 minutes
Mixed olives with the stones in
Flat leaf parsley
For the dressing, 2 msk dijon mustard, ½ dl extra virgin olive oil, 1 msk white wine vinegar, ¼ clove of crushed garlic. Mixed together and seasoned with salt and plenty of black pepper.
First dress the potatoes with half of the dressing. Then arrange them on a serving plate, dress the remaining ingredients, except the eggs, and add to the plate. Peel the eggs and chop the in half and put on top of the salad. Finish with a little more parsley and you are ready to go!