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Photo credit: Ulf Tjärnström.

Sweden’s oldest ultra, the GAX 100

09-Aug-18

Last updated: 24-Aug-18

By Ulf Tjärnström

In the middle of the hottest summer in 262 years, 63 men and women decided to go for a run. A run of 100 miles. Even though most people think it is a crazy idea, ultra runners are not like most people. So off they went.

The GAX 100 Miles is the oldest 100-mile race in Sweden. Founded in 2006 by Stefan Samuelsson, GAX is now organised by Jan-Erik Ramström and Urban Ljungberg, both seasoned ultra runners with GAX as their first 100-mile run.

The race follows the Skåneleden trail and passes over paths, hiking trails, roads and in and out of beautiful woodlands, meadows and beaches. The last half of the track is by the sea, most of it on the shoreline.

Deep soft sand and water, not your average track and field. The scenery and landscape are breath-taking, even when your body is screaming with pain and just wants to lie down and sleep.

The hot summer has been hard on water reservoirs and fresh water was in short supply in pumps and natural springs. But this is nothing for the ultra running community; all the support teams brought extra water and energy. Ultra runners like to take care of each other, which helped the finishing rate to be as high as 88%.

So, this is a race. But whom do you race against? Other runners? Yourself?

Petra Hurtig was not only racing against others and herself, she was racing against the clock. This was Petra’s second 100-mile race and she smashed Linda Bengtsson’s previous track record by 1,5 hour when finishing at 20:04.

Along with Roger Kjellsson, Petra finished second, 34 minutes behind the winner Peter Thorvaldsson. Roger Kjellsson also made GAX’s history by coming second in his first 100-mile race!

Lotta Thörn came in at second place at 23:44:55 and Randi Edvardsen from Norway came third at 24:56:05. In the men’s category Patrik Alvånger finished third at 21:22:00.

Although there can be only one first place, the rest of the runners were all winners in their own right. There were many hours left after the first batch of winners had crossed the line and as the rest battled on the race became a fascinating example of the endurance and tenacity of human beings moving toward to a common  goal of 100 miles.

Step by step, minute by minute. The struggle all runners are fighting, a fight no one can fully understand without experiencing it. If you are a finisher of a 100-mile race you are a winner.

The many individual victories won over the trail of Skåneleden is countless. At GAX 100, 49 men and women fought hard to put their names to the list of winners. They all did it.

Facts

  • Start 10:00 28 July 2018 at St Knuts torg, Ystad.
  • Time limit: 32 hours.
  • Total climb 1359 m.
  • Total descend 1359 m.
  • Aid/drop-bag stations, manned: 3 @ 44, 79 and 131 km.
  • Water, unmanned: 2 @ 65 and 118 km.
  • Pacers allowed: no.
  • Support allowed: yes.
  • Track record (m): 17:25:00 David Rydstedt och Ivan Bretan, 2016.
  • Track record (f): 20:04:00 Petra Hurtig, 2018.


The GAX 100 Miles is part of The Swedish 100 miles challenge and is a qualifying race for UTMB by 5 points.

Map

Full Results

This review and pictures was by Ulf Tjärnström – check out his Instagram.

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