The ICEBUG XPERIENCE

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I had a weekend off and although I attended a race, this time it was as a client/ runner and not photographer, of course, I did take a camera….

I had been told about ICEBUG XPERIENCE multiple times by my partner Abelone and her friend, Karin. They both get excited about running, exploring and adventures almost continuously, this time though it was different… The talk was all about fun, no pressure, great camping, food, organization and an all-inclusive experience that was for all, any ability and pretty much any age!

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So, I had to find out more.

Located in Bohuslän, Sweden. The Icebug Experience West Coast Trail is all based around Ramsvik Stugby & Camping on Ramsvikslandet which is the hub for the weekend. Here there is a restaurant, cabins, camping and fixed spaces for motorhomes or caravans. Located on Sotefjorden and surrounded by water, it’s the perfect location for a weekend.

THE EVENT

“The whole purpose of Icebug Experience Bohuslän is to show that a race can be so much more than a race.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

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Quite simply, Icebug have created an event that starts before the start line and goes on long after the finish line. As the name suggests, it is an ‘Xperience’ and one that I only wish I could experience more often.

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Consisting of three days, Icebug Xperience offers 3 routes that can be undertaken as a run, a run/ walk or a walk. Start times are 0900, 0915 and 1100 respectively.

While a medal (wooden) is rewarded for completion at the end, the event is much more about experience and memories than results.

Day 1 – 22km 455m+

Day 2 – 30km 603m+

Day 3 – 25.6km 435m+

Start line and finish line is different each day, however, day 1 starts at the race hub and day 3 concludes at the same place, offering an excellent 360-deg journey exploring the very unique surroundings and trails this area has to offer.

Transport is included as part of the race, be this by coach or boat. It’s all seamless, perfectly organized and works with military precession.

Route marking was superb ©iancorless

Route marking is some of the best I have witnessed with a plethora of red/white Icebug tape strewn throughout the trails no more than 20m apart.

Each day when you cross the line you are rewarded with beverages and a stunning locally sourced vegetarian lunchbox that was exceptional.

KIDS

Crab fishing ©iancorless

One key element that makes this event a standout is the kids club. I cannot express how excellent this is. Starting everyday 15-minutes before race departure (either race start or travel departure) a full 3-day itinerary is available to keep little ones happy while parents run.

Who doesn’t like catching crabs? ©iancorless

Look at the schedule below:

The start and the end will be at Ramsvik camping every day at the playground. There will be nine adults responsible for the Kids Camp group, who will split into four groups during some activities. Beside the lunch, the children will also be served fruit and beverages in the morning and afternoon and an ice cream surprise!

The Kids Camp will take place from early morning to 17.00, or until you pick them up upon arrival to Ramsvik.

FRIDAY 2/9 – Excursion Day at Ramsvikslandet

08:30 Welcome to Icebug Xperience-Kidscamp at Ramsvik camping: Get to know each other on the beach in the morning.

09:30 4km/3km/1,5km walk from Ramsvik to Tångevik. Back at Ramsvik beach we will have our lunch over the open fire.

14:00 Back at Ramsvik, opportunity to play beach soccer, beach volleyball and crab fishing.

17:00 Kids Camp close for today.

From 17:00 Kids Camp dinner with parents (for the children staying at Ramsvik).

SATURDAY 3/9 – Nordens Ark day

06:45 Welcome to a new day at Kids Camp, sign in at Ramsvik camping. Drop-in until 09:00.

09:30 Bus transport to the famous zoo Nordens Ark.

11:45 Lunch at the Zoo.

14:30 The bus leave Nordens Ark, back to Ramsvik for further activities at the beach.

17:00 Kids Camp close for today.

From 17:00 Kids Camp dinner with parents (for the children staying at Ramsvik).

SUNDAY 4/9 – Sailing and Kids Race day

07:30 Welcome to a new day at Kids Camp, sign in at Ramsvik camping.

09:30 We take the Zita boat from Ramsvik to Hunnebo/Sotefjorden yacht club. Our leaders are very experienced with teaching children how to sail! If your child has sailed before they will sail in an Optimist on their own. If not, they will sail in slightly bigger boats with a sailing instructor. Your child needs to have swimming skills to sail in the Optimist/boats with instructor. The smaller kids with no swimming skills can try an inflatable boat close to the shore. Please send me an e-mail if your child will not sail/take a ride in the inflatable boat. For those not sailing we will have activities on the pier. Life jacket is off course mandatory. If the weather doesn’t allow sailing, we will stay on land with other activities.

11:30 Lunch at Sotefjorden yacht club

13:00 Leaving Sotefjorden yacht club back to Ramsvik and get ready for the Kids Race!

14:00 Kids Race (1,7K same distance for all kids)

Kids race, 1.7km ©iancorless

15:00 Medal ceremony

16:00 End of Kids camp for this year

It’s hard to express the insight, thought and attention to detail that Icebug and the team have put together to create such an amazing child experience that keeps everyone happy. It’s often so hard to find time for parents to run when they have children, especially run together. Here, the Icebug Experience breaks new ground and creates a template that I only wish more events would copy.

INCLUSIVITY

Age, gender or ability – everyone welcome ©iancorless

In a time when there is much talk of making events more inclusive and increasing female participation, Icebug once again break new ground.

Not racing is almost encouraged, this I love. Take the time, enjoy the terrain, enjoy the experience and if you wish run, if you’d like to mix it up, walk and run. If either of those are too much, just walk.

It wasn’t only about running… ©iancorless

The weekend was very much a bonding exercise where it was easy to see how work colleagues had tempted co-workers to join them. Running clubs had put teams and groups together and most notably, the presence of women runners was extremely high.

Post-race I checked, the weekend had more female participants than men.

Think about it, why?

I think the answer is clear to see…

Age was not limiter. Speed was not important. What shall we do about the kids(?) was taken away.

Trust me, more events need to be like this.

Bonding on the trails ©iancorless

THE XPERIENCE

I was a client for the Icebug Xperience, I wasn’t working as a photographer, I wasn’t given a free place to help PR. I signed up and soaked up the event.

Our home from home ©iancorless

Arriving Thursday night, we pitched our tent, a nice large three-man Nordisk that would act as our base for the weekend. For reasons of comfort and ease, Abelone and I signed up for the food package which offered buffet breakfast (superb) and dinner. A superb lunch was provided as part of the race.

Yoga on the beach ©iancorless

Kids club was approximately 50-euros per day (+/-) and while I appreciate that this may prove costly for some, it was worth every penny. To see the kids’ bond, play and have the most amazing time put a smile on everyones face. In all honesty, I was tempted to sign up for the kid’s club and miss out on the running, the schedule was so good.

Great location ©iancorless

Ramsvik Stugby & Camping was the perfect hub for the weekend located 2.5-hours’ drive from Oslo or roughly 2-hours from Gothenburg. It offers something for all in a hard-to-beat archipelago idyll on the West Coast.

Our weather was wall-to-wall sunshine with warm temperatures, yes, we couldn’t have had it better, especially with the location. The was maybe even more important for the children who played on the beach, went fishing, sailed and had a day at the zoo. But trust me, many an adult jumped into the water post-run to cool off and soak in the atmosphere.

Event village had an Icebug shop and shoe test possibilities ©iancorless

The key to any successful weekend is great organisation and the Icebug Xperience excelled. Everything was like clockwork which made everything so calm and relaxing. There was no worry if a bus would turn up, will the ferry be there? What about breakfast? Where do I drop my child? Everything was clearly communicated, and all happened at the times specified.

The routes offered a great challenge and were superbly marked with a distance marker every 2km’s and either 2 or 3 aid stations.

Day 1 started at Ramsvik race village and ended in the picturesque village of Hunnebostrand.

Day 2 started at Bohus-Malmön and the finish line was at Kungshamn. An interesting route that was split starting with 10km, a ferry (timing stopped) and then a 20km course to the finish and then a bus or boat back to Ramsvik.

Day 3 started in Smögen and concluded at the race village in Ramsvik, a special day that lets you fully experience the Ramsvik rocks.

Race start on day 1 ©iancorless

Three special days that follow the ocean: old fisherman’s villages, heaths, canyons, and a huge amount of red-colored granite rocks. Three stages – three different Xperiences.

CONCLUSION

Icebug Xperience ©iancorless

The process and the journey are what provides the memories for me, and while I fully appreciate racing a clock and others has its place, weekends like Icebug Xperience bring a whole new level of full absorption, not only for the runner but for the family. Nobody is left out here, everyone is looked after, everyone has their own experience and then it all comes together towards the end of the day to share the experience over dinner and whilst hanging out in your chosen accommodation.

New friends, new xperiences ©iancorless

There is much to learn from what happens here in Sweden.

The number of female participants. The planning and structure to look after children. The inclusivity of providing an experience for everyone irrespective of age, ability, or gender.

Congratulations Icebug on producing something very special.

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