Emelie Forsberg, Team Salomon Running.
Emelie burst onto the running scene in 2012 with a 2nd place at the Three Peaks in the UK. Throughout 2012, taking one step at a time, Emelie progressed through the Skyrunning calendar with consistent top 3 placing’s. She crowned her 2012 season off with a Skyrunning World Championship and a stunning win at San Francisco 50. Speaking from her home in Sweden, I catch up with her just before her 2013 run season starts. Cinnamon buns are in the oven and the hot chocolate is steaming on the table…
IC Welcome to Talk Ultra
EF Thank you Ian.
IC We all have followed your progress in 2012 and it has been a quick progression in the sport, but many ask, what were you doing before?
EF I have been a student for some years. Whilst studying I have lived and worked in Swedish and Norwegian mountain resorts.
IC You have mentioned work, I’m interested. By work I am assuming you don’t mean skiing or running?
EF Baking. I am a baker. In fact, I am actually baking bread right now.
IC So this is why you always post photos of you and food on Facebook. You have a secret passion.
EF (laughs) I love good bakery!
IC You love bakery but you also love Nutella if my memory serves me well?
EF Yes, I love Nutella too.
IC So you are a baker but you also worked in hotels too, I assume you must have been doing sport during this time. You are an accomplished skier, is that your sporting background?
EF Skiing is my sport as well as climbing and some running. But I only started running in the last 4 years. I run mainly in the mountains. I love being outside.
IC What was it at the end of 2011 that made you decide that you would come away from your home and start to basically to race around the world.
EF It was my Swedish brand ambassador for Salomon who asked if I would join the Swedish Salomon Team initially and then Greg Vollet, Salomon Team Manager, asked if I would join them for a weeks training? After that a decision was made that I should try some international races. I have just progressed. I wanted to take each race at a time. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on.
IC It has been a meteoric rise for you, Three Peaks was a low-key start in the UK and you got 2nd place. At Zegama, it was your first proper mountain race against an international field. You had no hiding place. But despite that pressure, you performed tremendously in what was a new experience for you.
EF Yes, a new experience. Actually, I was a little disappointed. I hadn’t run much before Three Peaks and Zegama. Of course I was happy to do well but I could have done so much better. I learnt I need to start running before racing.
IC Funny, you say you should run before racing. Seriously, you did no running before Three Peaks? What had you been doing?
EF I had a weeks running in April with the Salomon Team but when home I was doing SkiMo (Ski Mountaineering) or I just ran a couple of miles to University each day. So I wasn’t doing much. Certainly not to race. I do ski with heavy ski’s to add resistance and that really gets you fit and strong.
IC One thing that becomes apparent with mountain runners is that SkiMo plays a big part in winter prep. For example Kilian Jornet, Nuria Picas, and Philipp Reiter amongst others spend months during the winter doing this. Skiing really does transfer across well. Is it just great endurance training or does is provide other strengths.
EF Endurance is key. It is great uphill training too and the speed in SkiMo is great. The speed going downhill is great for downhill running. You learn not to be afraid, it builds confidence.
IC What is apparent is that you can go downhill really quickly. You have already gained a reputation for this. You put this to great use at Pikes Peak when at the summit you had a 10 min deficit but you pulled it back on the descent and got the win! What is that enables you to run downhill so quickly?
EF I love the speed and freedom. I love fast! You don’t need great power. During my life I have always been moving in technical terrain, which gives me confidence to recognize different kinds of trails and decide the correct route. I am not afraid. It’s a combination of no fear and confidence.
IC I think back to Trofeo Kima in 2012, you said before the race that you wanted to just have fun! You even took sandwiches…. On one of the toughest courses in the Skyrunning calendar!
EF I did
IC Admittedly you didn’t get time to eat them… the course was too hard. But I love the mentality. You wanted to enjoy it. I love that balance that you bring to your sport. You want to do well but ultimately you want to have fun. You have struck that balance so well. At Trofeo Kima you ran with Nuria Picas and then Nuria pulled away but you weren’t bothered, however, that competitive edge came in at the end when you could sprint for 2nd place. You put the ‘speed’ you love to good use then.
EF It’s a combination for sure. I want to have fun and I like to win. Running is great fun, for sure, my life is running. It’s liberating, it’s a big part of me. I must enjoy it. I need to enjoy what I do. Competition is great, I love to feel strong and I do love to race. Winning is great and once you have won, you think, I would like to win more but I need to keep balance.
IC I feel fortunate to have witnessed most of your races in 2012, the exception San Francisco when you won. I saw you on multiple podiums. But I also saw both sides of you… the fun person and the racer. For me, the race of the year was Cavalls del Vent. You are great friends with Nuria and Frosty and pre race you three hang out together. You laugh, giggle, drink coffee and even when racing you are great friends having a laugh. At Cavalls, all three of you battled in tough conditions. As it turned out Nuria won and Frosty was 2nd but for you 3rd was not a disappointment. It was your first long race. Did you feel intimidated by the distance?
EF I wanted to try a longer race. If you have never tried then you don’t know what it feels like. I needed to push myself. I actually started at Cavalls quite fast and I lead for almost half the race. I felt super strong. I could eat, I could drink, it was cold but I could manage it. In the end when Nuria and Anna passed me, I was mentally tired. Just super tired in my brain. I couldn’t push even though I wasn’t tired. Running uphill with Anna I couldn’t go with her. It was very unusual. We probably only had 40 mins to the finish of the race and Anna screamed at me “Come on Emily, push”. But I was just tired. I learnt something in that race.
IC What did you learn, what did you take away from Cavalls?
EF I think I need to work on my mind and my physical. I need to connect them and I need to be stronger. It was my first long race and it was much longer than I had ever run before. To be honest, it is good to run with others too. I learnt that maybe running with others is better than running alone.
IC It is interesting what you say about running with others and talking. That is one thing that Kilian likes. I noticed it at Cavalls, he always seemed as though he wanted some company. In that race it was Anton Krupicka. Of course when it comes to the end, he runs away for the win. I guess time passes so much easier and quickly with company…
From Cavalls you went to La Templiers in France, which starts in Millau. It’s a big race in France. You raced Nuria and Lizzy Hawker. Nuria once again won. But you really gritted your teeth and outsprinted Lizzy for 2nd.
EF Yes it was satisfying but that race was problematic. I had stomach issues and I had to stop six or seven times. So that took energy. Plus I couldn’t eat. I felt I could have done so much better. I could have run with Nuria but I don’t know if I could have won? At the end I almost felt rude sprinting past Lizzy…
IC Racing is racing Emelie and Lizzy would have done exactly the same so don’t feel guilty.
Lets move to the final of 2012. Ultimately your best race, not only a stunning victory but a nice payday too, eh! (First prize in the Ladies race was $10,000)
EF Yes! a nice payday.
IC San Fran, funny, so many races have had difficult and tough with bad weather. It was no different here. Do you perform better when the conditions are like this?
EF Maybe not better but I am used to harsh conditions and I don’t worry.
IC San Fran was a great win. Talk me through it. Pre race I actually predicted you wouldn’t win because I thought you maybe had a little too much time skiing after Templiers. However, you proved me wrong, I hang my head in shame; I should have had more confidence in you. Talk me through it.
EF I wanted to start with Lucy and Maud Gobert. They are famous for being fast starters. I tried to keep up with them but very early on I thought I can’t go this fast… I was a little scared. Normally it is ME that starts fast. I slowed down. I felt confident and I was feeling okay and then two American girls passed. I then thought, wow, have I not run enough and have I had too many buns and hot chocolate (laughs) After about 20k I could see them again and I started to reel them in. I passed Lucy; she wasn’t having a good day. When the American girls picked up pacers I passed them too, this was about 30k into the race.
IC Early on then?
EF Yes, I still felt confident. I was not tired and I was looking forward to keeping on running at the same pace. Just before I picked up Anna Frost, my pacer, I passed Maud Gobert who was leading the race. I was now in the lead! I thought, I can do it… I had started the race slower and it was working. It was a great confidence boost. Anna was such a great pacer. We had such fun. She kept telling me “you can win”. It was great to be at the front, leading. It was fantastic. At the finish I was almost nervous, I had never won a long distance race before. When you think you can win, you really want it and then the nerves strike. I had a perfect day out.
IC It was a stunning win and a great way to end an incredible 2012. Can I ask, you say you started slower, it payed dividends in the latter stages, do you think that is something you will now transfer to other races? Maybe patience is good and you should hold back?
EF Yes and no. Sometimes I just want to run the way I feel like and not have tactics. I wonder to myself if can go fast all race without slowing, so why start slow (Laughs) Greg Vollet would not agree! He thinks I should start slower.
IC Shhhh we wont tell Greg. Greg, if you are reading this, she didn’t say that!
IC I understand, lets say for example you are racing Nuria and Anna; you would rather be with them instead of watching them run away. Better to be with them and then you can adjust your pace accordingly, it may well be that you are running easy?
EF Yes, maybe.
IC What is on your 2013 calendar? Tarawera kicks off the year but that will be a low-key start as you are doing a relay. So will Transvulcania be the first big race?
EF Yes, I am not ready for 100k at Tarawera yet. I have planned to do some run coaching holidays and then I will go to Transvulcania La Palma. Transvulcania will be my first ‘proper’ race of 2013.
IC Superb, it’s a wonderful course and it will be great to see you racing Frosty and Nuria and some other great competitive ladies. Another classic battle lies ahead. After that, where do you go? Zegama?
EF Yes, Zegama.
IC Zegama is two week later and is a Sky marathon so will the remainder of the year be decided after these two races or do you already have 2013 planned out.
EF It’s almost planned out but I need to be flexible and I need to listen to my body. So I will change races if I need to
IC Can you tell us what your plans are?
EF I have several races in Sweden, mainly half marathons. Then I want to do Mont Blanc Marathon and the Vertical Kilometer, I will follow these two races with the European Champs (Skyrunning), I may even do Ice Trail Tarentaise.
IC Will you do UROC for the final of the Skyrunning Ultra champs?
EF Yes, I hope so. It will be my first 100k. It will be more distance than I have run before, so, I need to feel good but if I do, I will run.
IC An exciting year ahead and all those races are pretty much Skyrunning events. Exciting.
I have some questions from fans for you, is that okay?
IC James Stewart asks, “Have you had a VO2 test?”
EF No, I have not. I’m not interested. Maybe some day.
IC I guess in principal a VO2 test doesn’t matter, you are running well and you can run quickly. That is all we, and you need to know.
IC Who would you like to race in the future?
EF I would love to race against so many, I enjoyed racing Lucy at San Francisco. Maybe it would be nice to race more of the American runners. They are very good and they have a different approach. I’d also love to race Ellie Greenwood.
IC If you do some races in the US, particularly Speedgoat and UROC then that wish may come true. I think Ellie is doing Speedgoat 50k.
Daniel Caulderon asks, “What is your nutrition plan?” Not sandwiches at Trofeo Kima and not cinnamon buns with hot chocolate.
EF I don’t have a nutrition plan. I recommend that you listen to your body. I always eat what I want. But I do eat lots of vegetables, beans and salad. But I love hot chocolate and cinnamon buns too!
IC Jill Suarez says, “I want the recipe for Nutella Brownies”
EF Shall I tell you the recipe now?
IC No, email me and we will add it afterwards.
2 dl (0.2 l) sugar
5 big spoons of kakao
A small spoon of vanilla sugar
Very little salt
100 g butter
1 dl (0.1 l) Wheat
A little coffee
Stir the and the eggs and sugar very gently ( no whisking!)
Things to add in the cake: everything you like! I prefer nutella, walnuts, m&m´s or chocolate pieces.
Then add all the ingredients, put it in the owen at 175 Celsius. 15-20 minutes depending how you like the consistent to be like!
This was what I eat during my first mountain marathon! Nyam nyam!
Apparently best served with Almond Milk….
Emelie, I want to finish and once again thank you for your time. It’s a pleasure to spend time with you. You are one of the most ‘smiley’ people on the ultra scene. What you do in racing is reflected in your smile. You love it and that is great to see. Have a fantastic 2013 and I am so looking forward to catching up with you in the mountains during the coming year.
EF Thank you so much Ian.
Read more SKYRUNNING interviews HERE
Hey Ian, isn’t there supposed to be a video of Emily downhilling somewhere? Thanks!
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