‘Marathons are more like a warm-up for us’

Two Swedish Easter witches are giving up the spring festivities in Sweden to run 3,000 kilometres from Istanbul back home to Stockholm with all their gear packed tight into a pram. Kristina Paltén and Carina Borén are The Local's pick for Swede(s) of the Week.

'Marathons are more like a warm-up for us'

Paltén and Borén are eating a fruit salad of grapes, pineapple and melon at Arlanda Airport when The Local calls. Their flight for Turkey leaves shortly.

Firm friends since 2010, when they ran the first 70 kilometres together at the Täby Extreme Challenge, the two women are set to spend three and a half months on the road.

A query if they are veteran marathon runners is met with a friendly bemused scoff.

“Marathons aren’t really our thing, they’re more like a warm-up,” says Paltén, who grew up in Piteå in Sweden’s far north.

SEE ALSO: A list of The Local’s past Swedes of the Week

Her best marathon result is 3 hours and 53 minutes while Enköping-native Borén once clocked in at 4 hour and 7 minutes. They have both lived in Stockholm since the mid-90s.

They have nicknamed the ultra run “Micklagård to Stadsgård”. Micklagård was the old Viking name for Istanbul, while Stadsgård refers to the Stockholm harbour where they hope to arrive back home in mid-July after finishing their epic trek by paddling across the Baltic Sea from Finland.

So why Turkey?

“We thought about running home from Greece, but that felt so familiar,” Paltén says. “This route gets us into Bulgaria, Ukraine, and the Baltic states, which are all completely new countries for us.”

Although they will spend Good Friday sightseeing in Istanbul, they also have to buy fuel for their camping stove. On Saturday, they set off.

“We haven’t got a lot of clothes with us, what we have is stuff. The tent, the sleeping bags, and tools to fix the pram we are using.”

The pram in question by itself weights nine kilogrammes, their haul another 27 so the two women plan to take turns, pushing it ahead of them in order to avoid hand blisters and shoulder pain. A wrist strap will help ensure it doesn’t careen too far off course.

They hope to cover 30 to 45 kilometres a day and say “the more the better” about their expected calorie intake.

The last few days in Sweden have been a flurry of events, last-minute preparations and saying goodbye to friends and family.

Borén’s little sister even gave her a crocheted miniature running shoe, filled with notes from sister to sister to be read along the route.

“I don’t know what the pieces of paper say, but I’m looking forward to reading them,” Borén wrote on her blog (see link below).

“Our families are a bit nervous, but mostly they are very proud of us,” underlines Paltén on the phone from Arlanda.

Ann Törnkvist

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Editor’s Note:The Local’s Swede of the week is someone in the news who – for good or ill – has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.

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Sweden’s Mikaela Larsson wins Stockholm marathon

Sweden's Mikaela Larsson has won the Stockholm Marathon for the first time, completing the course in an impressive two hours and 40 minutes despite the searing 27C temperature.

Sweden's Mikaela Larsson wins Stockholm marathon
Mikaela Larsson (c) celebrates her victory, alongside second placed Beji Bekelu (l) from Ethiopia and third place Caroline Almkvist (r) from Sweden.
“Today I felt the spectators helped me pull out something extra over and over again. It was absolutely fantastic,” Larsson told Sweden’s SVT broadcaster. “I’m tired but terribly happy. I hadn’t expected this beforehand.”  
At the 30km mark, Larsson spurted ahead of her Ethiopian rival Beju Bekelu, building a lead of three minutes and 27 seconds by the finishing line. 
In the run-up to the start, many had feared that the 27C temperatures would mean runner collapsing from heat exhaustion, but the arrival of clouds just before the start made the contest slightly cooler than expected. 
Kenyan Lawi Kiptui won the men’s competition with a dramatic finish which saw him overtake and power ahead of his Ethiopian rival Bazu Worku. 
“It was an extremely hot race,” Kiptui told SVT. “I focused on nothing but winning.” 
The sports commentator and statistician Lennart Julin told the TV4 channel that Kiptui’s final spurt had been “one of the most extraordinary victories in the history of the Stockholm Marathon”.