Shaking the Grass



IceBug Xperience

I became aware of the Icebug Xperience from two of my coached athletes who had entered it & kindly extended the invitation to join them. At that time the event which comprises 75km of running over 3 stages through the coastal landscape of Bohuslan, Sweden, looked a great way to round off what I planned to be a dynamic event filled year. However for a variety of reasons & indeed excuses I arrived in Ramsvik feeling physically unprepared. My training hadn't had the regularity, consistency or focus required to to achieve the fitness gains I had intended. I was also feeling mentally drained due to a recent personal family loss. Fortunately the company of friends combined with the stunning coastal setting helped me to concentrate on the present.

Stage 1 (23k) started in the nature reserve of Ramsvikslandet. The area is also known as the 'kingdom of the rocks'. As this name suggests the scenery is dominated by rocks, shaped by ice sheets of days past. The first 9km of the stage are spent running across rocks. The weather for these kms was dark, grey, windy & wet. This made the rock sections slippery (for my choice of footwear) & it required concentration to negotiate them safely. After 9km the route left the nature reserve via a swing bridge. The route then followed a mix of forest trails and gravel tracks (with some short road sections) before ending on the small island of Smogen.  Despite the slipperiness of some sections of the route & the weather I enjoyed my run. I was pleased with my level of effort & progress. I was not so pleased with how my legs reacted almost immediately after crossing the finish line!  My hamstrings reminded me that my preparation for the event had been inadequate. I cannot recall my legs having felt quite so tight or uncomfortable after a run. 

Stage 2 (29km) is the longest stage. Whilst it is detailed as 29km it is in reality actually two runs, 10.5km & 19km, separated by a ferry ride. The ferry ride itself is short. The first 10.5km are enjoyed on the island of Malmon. The route follows the Kustsigen hiking trail. Again there were lots of rocky sections to negotiate. I was reasonably pleased with how the legs worked for these opening kms. After the ferry ride the second part of the stage follows a mix of rolling trails. These afforded some stunning views. Unfortunately my legs were much less cooperative on this section & my pace progress was much more laboured. I was glad to reach the finish line in Kungshamn & grateful that the hardest stage of the Icebug Xperience had been completed. 

The start of Stage 3 (19.5km) was reached via s short boat ride. The stage took in a variety of terrain & included a good mix of trails. On paper it was the kindest stage. However in terms of progress I found it the most taxing. I was relieved to reach the finish line. At the finish line I collected my Icebug sew on badge. This is not the most exciting or prestigious finishers memento I have ever earned but it meant a lot to me. Much more than can be explained with simple reference to the length, number or difficulty of the stages & the event itself. I know I gave what I had on those 3 days. I gave an honest performance & enjoyed the Xperience. This enjoyment was undoubtedly enhanced by being in good company. 



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