[Make sure to click the Swedish links above - they contain results, participants, reports (some in english), photos, records, sponsors and links that is quite obvoius and self explanatory. If you do have any more questions - please do not hesitate to contact me. Please book your room in Ystad as soon as you know that you will run the race.]
In 1955 a group of horsemen sat by the fire and agreed that the old days were better, when a horse could run 100 miles in one day. Wendell Robie suggested that they should replicate the feat, and The Western States Trail Ride was born. In 1974 Gordon Ainsleigh's horse had problems so he lined up himself and finished in 23:42h. The Western States Endurance Run has been run every year since.
mile-races are often held on challenging trails in spectacular nature - this race
is no exception. For the very first time, in 2006, there was a race being held
in the Nordic countries. You now have the opportunity to challenge yourself and
participate in Sweden's longest, most beautiful and toughest (?) race ever!
The race starts in Ystad and follows Nord till Sydleden, Syds 21:st stage followed by Österlenledens stage 11 to 1 clockwise all the way back to Ystad.
The route is 100 miles (160,9 km) and passes meadows and forrests from Ystad to Simrishamn through Brösarps backar and back to Ystad next to the sea. The route follows Skåneledens markings all the way - it is not orienteering. The first half (80 km) would be mostly in daylight whilst the second half (81 km) is run along the coast in the night, in the sand, and should be finished by the morning. Here the coastline usually is the route and no markings exist apart from when you follow other trails a bit inland.
The normal runner should find their way without problems, the maps are correct but at some points the route markings might be old or different. Usually the markings are an orange ring around a tree or lamp post at eye level.
The route follows the maps of Skåneleden. Maps can be bought at any Swedish Tourist Bureau (~130 SEK/14.5 EUR), book shops (~159 SEK/18 EUR) or on the Internet (~150 SEK/17 EUR) - they can be found both in english and in swedish. You'll need the following maps:
xxxxx Österlenleden (Skåneleden hiking map The Österlen trail). Scale 1:50 000. Published by Position Skåne in
xxxxxxxcooperation with Stiftelsen för fritidsområden i Skåne [covers the last 137 km]
xxxxx Nord till Sydleden, Syd (Skåneleden hiking map The North-to-South trail, Part 2 South). Scale 1:50 000. Published xxxxxxxby Position Skåne in cooperation with Stiftelsen för fritidsområden i Skåne [covers the first 24 km]
Stage 10, Vitabäck to Lövestads Åsar ~14 km. Total: ~47,5 km, level of difficulty - easy. At Lövestads Åsar there is water and shelter.
Stage 9, Lövestads Åsar to Heinge ~6 km. Total: ~53,5 km, level of difficulty - easy to moderate. On the way one will pass water and at Heinge there are toilets and shelter.
Stage 8, Heinge to Verkasjön ~9,1 km. Total: ~62,6 km, level of difficulty - easy. At Verkasjön there is a shelter.
Stage 7, Verkasjön to Vantalängan ~6,1 km. Total: ~68,7 km, level of difficulty - moderate to difficult. On the way one will pass toilets and at Vantalängan there is water. Do not follow stage 7B north.
Stage 6, Vantalängan to Kivik ~15 km. Total: ~83,7 km, level of difficulty - moderate. On the way one will pass toilets and water, at Kivik there is water and toilets.
Stage 5, Kivik to Simrishamn ~18 km. Total: ~101,7 km, level of difficulty - moderate. On the way one will pass water and toilets, at Simrishamn there is water and toilets.
Stage 4, Simrishamn to Borrby Strandbad ~20 km. Total: ~121,7 km, level of difficulty - easy to moderate. On the way one will pass water and toilets, at Borrby Strandbad there is water and toilets.
3, Borrby Strandbad to Löderups Strandbad ~12,1
km. Total: ~133,8 km, level of difficulty - moderate. On the way one will
pass water and toilets. Follow the short route towards the coast and back again.
2, Löderups Strandbad to Nybrostrand ~19,6 km.
Total: ~153,4 km, level of difficulty - moderate. At Nybrostrand there is water
and toilets. Do not run through Kabusa skjutfält which the army is using
as a shooting range.
1, Nybrostrand to Ystad ~7,5 km.
Total: 160,9 km, level of difficulty
- easy. On the way one will pass water and toilets.
What is the route like?
What is the trail like?
What if I get lost?
What if I get really lost?
Can I run on other paths than those on the course?
How do you check if runners are cheating?
What is the "Rule of the Trail"?
What if I have to heed the call of nature.
Couldn't you mark the course like just about every other race I've ever been in?
It's a pain to pause and read the map.
Can I get a friend to come out and give me food and drinks along the route?
It's a free world. What's to stop me from scouting the course before the race?
Can I put up an aid station?
Can I bring my friends and family to the finish even if they don't run or volunteer?
Do I really need to buy a map?
When will the official results be available?
Can I wait until the last minute and join at the start?
If I have any other questions should I read all the instructions again?
Now the real work began; set up a web page, get people to know about the race, worry if anyone was going to show up and plan the route more carefully. By connecting two long marked and scenic trails in Scania, southern Sweden I had by chance stumbled upon one of the most beautiful race courses imaginable.
Race day came and just 30 minutes before start five other pioneers came and joined me for a long day and night (and day for some) filled with adventure, animals, beach, woods, thirst, hills and gettin' lost. I had sponsors, friends and a family to take care of the two aid stations and 26 hours later a female runner reached the finish line. The next year participants increased by 167 % (and the course record decreased with 27 %)! After three years 21 participant out of 36 (58 % finishing rate) have completed the whole 100 miles. But the real history started with the Western States Endurance Run.
In 1955 a group of horsemen were debating the toughness of their mounts compared to the legendary horses of bygone days. It was agreed that in the past, a horse could carry a rider for 100 miles in a single day and night. Wendell Robie suggested they attempt to replicate that feat and The Western States Trail Ride was born. A prominent California horseman named Will Tevis was intrigued by the concept, and donated a trophy to the event; it has been called the Tevis Cup Ride ever since.
In 1974 a 27-year-old woodcutter named Gordon Ainsleigh came along. His horse had foot problems and during training Ainsleigh spent most of his time running alongside. A friend suggested that he might have better luck if he left his horse at home. He agreed. The friend probably wasn't serious, but Ainsleigh was.
Ainsleigh stashed water and food along the course and lined up in his running shoes with 198 horses. He finished in 23 hours and 42 minutes. In the process of proving horses were just as tough as they ever were, it was discovered that at least one man was a hell of a lot tougher than anyone had imagined.
The next year Ron Kelley decided to give it a go and ran the first 97 miles before inexplicably walking off the course and driving home, a mere three miles short of the finish! In 1976 Ken "Cowman" Shirk finished the race just 30 minutes over the allotted 24 hours, with Ainsleigh pacing him along the final stretch.
Runner's World published a short story on Ainsleigh's feat, which caught the attention of more adventurous runners. In 1977 fourteen showed up but only three finished the race. Andy Gonzales established a new record of 22:57:00 passing through habitat occupied primarily by rattlesnakes, bears and cougars, avoiding hypothermia, dehydration, heat stroke, renal failure, seizure, hypoglycemia, disorientation, total mental and physcial exhaustion and altitude sickness. Along the route the runners had negotiated seven major canyons on the up-and-down race course for a total elevation drop of 7000 metres and an gain of 5000.
In 1978 Wendell Robie decided it was time to make the run a separate event from the ride. They didn't know it at the time, but they were creating a new sport. The running community generally accepts that year as the official genesis for the sport of ultrarunning in the United States, and the first official 100-mile footrace in the world.
Since then 100 mile races dominate the running circus in USA and has spread to other parts in the world. It is the event that decides if you can go for super long distances and it is a wonderful, albeit tough experience. You get to travel through a full day and night, seeing sunrise and sunset in the process, often in beautiful nature. In a 100 mile race it is not important who wins - it is all about the participants. As Mo Livermore of Western States folklore puts it - "Failure is only when someone has failed to give their best effort."