Åre Extreme Challenge is a challenging race that demands years of training to win. But the vast majority of competitors are recreational athletes and weekend warriors that take fantastic memories home from the beautiful course.
A warning: All participants are responsible for preparing themselves for the race, including the ability to self-rescue in a kajak if you capsize and to navigate with a map in mountain terrain (in the event that race markings blow away). Beyond that, we also recommend that you train before the race — here are some training tips.
The race includes both flatwater paddling (all classes) and whitewater paddling (solo class).
Choice of kayak is important, as you should select a boat that matches your ability — fast and tippy boats are not for everyone! It is more important to paddle your kayak forward at a comfortable speed than it is to maximize speed and lose your balance.
The kayaking on Lake Åre can be demanding. Within minutes the weather can change and the lake can become rough (as happened in 2014 when many competitors capsized and were not able to get back into their kayaks by themselves).
Tips – kayaks and paddle courses
We recommend, first and foremost, that you learn how to paddle correctly on flatwater. Then, for those of you competing in the solo class, we strongly recommend that you learn how to read and paddle whitewater. ** Note that all solo competitors must provide certificate of whitewater experience, see the “rules” page).
Here are some tips for companies that offer kayak rentals, as well as technique course in flat water and whitewater paddling.
- Kajaktiv is located in Dala-Floda (2.5 hr train ride from Stockholm) and arranges whitewater paddling courses specialized for ÅEC competitors in May and June (Dala-Floda) and during race week (Åre). James Venimore, who started ÅEC 21 years ago, has developed 4 different courses ranging from 3 hrs to 3 days. The company also offers kayak rental for race day. Read more at Kajaktiv.se.
- Äventyrligt is responsible for water safety during the race and also organizes flatwater and whitewater paddling courses in Åre, ranging from 1.5 hours to 2 days. Stefan Jarhed, who runs the company and has been part of the event since 2004, has local knowledge of the area. The company rents kayaks for the race. Read more at aventyrligt.se.
- Kajaksidan. A fully equipped paddling store in Stockholm. In addition to kayaks, surfskis, dry suits, and other gear for ÅEC, the company also offers courses in paddle technique with Jörgen Kard (a past winner of the paddle section of ÅEC). The company hires stable and fast kayaks from WorldKayaks. The store is open 6 days a week and organizes the Åre Pre-Rac training race in the spring. Read more at kajaksidan.se.
- Kajakspecialisten. A complete surfski store in Stockholm with paddle technique courses for both beginners and intermediate (surfski, wing paddle, and clothes included in rental). Max 5 participants per course, with teachers from the Swedish National Paddling Team. Those who become members also have access to surfski, paddles, PFDs, and the possibility to rent equipment for ÅEC. Read more in Swedish at kajakspecialisten.se or contact via email in English at email@example.com
- Paddling Stockholm. Offers courses in whitewater paddling and eskimo-roll training in Central Stockholm – day, night, or evening. You can choose the time that suits and receive one-on-one training or train in a group with your ÅEC team. Read more at paddlingstockholm.se.
- Escape Outdoors. Coaching and kayaks by Johan Wagner, who is a UKCC Coach level 2, as well as a competitive mountain and trail runner. His kayak club in Önnered (near Gothenburg) offers competitive prices for kayak rentals and paddle technique classes. Read more at escapeoutdoors.se
- Surfski camps have courses for beginners to experts.They offer training in both lakes and on the ocean in the south of Sweden. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
Tips – Paddling on the course (Indalsälven)
Some competitors like to paddle the river section of the course during the week prior to the event. These tours should not be used as a certification course, but rather as a way to experience the river, to learn to read the lines, and to get a feel for the water level. Contact companies above for more information, including Kajaktiv and Äventyrligt.
The running is challenging with over 1,000 vertical metres of climbing. Training of both uphill and downhill running is important before the race, as the trail is on technical and rocky terrain.
Tips – Run Technique
An effective runner is one that holds together in the long run. Despite the fact that we are all “born to run”, runners tend to be injured at very high rates, mostly due to bad technique. Two companies that offer trail running technique courses include:
- Art of running (AoR) specializes in the foot and run technique and is located in Trosa (~45 min south of Stockholm). A skillful runner can handle all types of surfaces encountered in nature, but this demands a well-functioning foot. AoR coaching focuses on developing a strong and natural foot to allow athletes to run more efficiently in nature. Contact AoR at email@example.com or artofrunning.se
- Born to Run (BTR) Scandinavia, run by two BTR master coaches, Gourgen Gevorgyan and Joseph Stone, offer world leading workshops developed by Lee Saxby in running and coaching. Their coaching is for runners looking to become stronger, faster and injury free. Workshops are available in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Read more at borntorun.nu.
- Scott Cole, Co-race director for ÅEC, is also a certified Born to Run Coach. After a long quest for a more effective running step, which included coaching from Art of Running, Scott has become a running coach himself. He offers two hour running courses in Åre and Östersund that are aimed at all types of athletes from elite to recreational. His courses are relevant for anybody with typical running injuries (knee, hip, back, etc.) or anybody looking to run longer, faster or with more enjoyment. Read more at scottcole.se/coaching.
The mountainbike section is technical and includes wet sections — including some short swamps, where it’s often easier to run with the bike. Solo and Duo competitors should include some “brick sessions” in their training leading up to the race (i.e., run 45-90 min and then immediately jump on your bike for 60-120 min). We can promise one thing: after running 1,000 meters downhill into the “run-to-bike” transition in Huså, your legs will not be fresh!
Tips – Mountain Bike
The jump from road cycling to mountain bike is not as drastic as many think. But some basic tips will make the transition smooth … and ensure that you “keep the rubber side down.”
- Cykling Deluxe organizes mountain bike technique courses in Jämtland (not far from Åre). In 2017 they will arrange courses for beginners and intermediate riders who wish to improve their trail riding and downhill technique. In May 2017 they will arrange a 3 day weekend course aimed at women preparing for ÅEC (includes on-course training). More info (in Swedish) coming to cyklingdeluxe.com. Or contact via email in English at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Snell Sport & Hälsa based in Östersund organizes spring courses for new MTB-ers aiming to complete ÅEC. Jügen Snell is a competitive cyclist that has completed the 90 km “Cykelvassa@ five times. He’s also a massage therapist and can help with tight muscles. Contact Jürgen at email@example.com or snellsport.se.
Many racers work with endurance coaches to develop a training plan during the winter and in preparation for the race. Here are a few tips:
- Scott Cole offers multisport coaching for ÅEC. Read more scott cole.se.
- “Give it a go” – Multisport with Coach Lekhagen! We believe that those who feel unprepared are less likely to “give it a go.” Therefore, instead of focusing on paddle or run technique, we discuss the other details you need to succeed in a multisport race. You can find us in Stockholm and we’re happy to teach in English. Read more about our program (in Swedish) at lekhagen.se/coach or shoot us an email in English to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other multisport races
- raceforheroes.se (winning time ca. 5 tim. Solotävling med kajak, cykel, löpning)
- areprerace.se (solotävling med kajak, cykel, löpning i Sthlm, Gbg och Uppsala. Möjlighet att hyra kajak och cykel gratis
- kolmardenextreme.se (winning time ca. 9 tim. Solotävling med kajak, cykel, löpning)
- sportkullanar.se (winning time 5-9 tim. Lag multisportrace (endast tjejer) med cykel, löpning och andra moment.
- isabergmultisport.se (winning time 3-tim. Solotävling med kajak/löp/cykel i “Årelik” miljö. (29 april 2017)
- kajaktiv.se forspaddlingstävling söndag 11:e juni i samband med en forspaddlingskurs som går på lördag (10-11 juni 2017)
- karlstadmultisport.se/wermlandar/ Loppet kommer att bestå av 3 etapper och den totala tävlingstiden kommer att bli ca 20h.
- coasttocoast.co.nz Winning time 10 hrs. Solo race with whitewater paddling, road bike, and trail running in New Zealand.