Monday, October 15, 2012

25manna 2012 – A Scandi Club Experience

To give a bit of an update, I’m now starting my second year as a Masters student at Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.  After WOC this summer my shape felt really good, my motivation was really high for the coming year, and I was able to put in a few really good weeks of training. The past month however has been a bit of a struggle, with injury and sickness, as well as settling back into school and living in a new part of town. One of the races I’ve most looked forward to this fall was 25manna, and after a bit of a break from racing, I was excited to get myself back into things.

25manna (pronounced in Swedish as: shoo-fem-manna) was my first big race in Sweden last fall, and I really enjoyed it. It is an all-ages, whole-club relay, with 25 runners per team, where the winning club is deemed the ‘world’s best club’. This past year my Swedish club, Göteborg-Majorna OK, has put in a lot of work into a “Gränslöst” project, to work on unity and development across all the age groups in the club. As one of Sweden’s biggest clubs, and after top 6 placings the past two years, the goal was to enter four teams, and to fight for the victory.

The format for 25manna is a bit different.  Legs 3 to 7 are run in parallel, with 4 runners on each leg. The first two, and the last three legs have only one runner per team. There are age and gender requirements for each leg, as well as a minimum number of women and juniors per team. It’s a bit hard to explain, and the leg requirements change each year, so here is a table of this year’s breakdown.

 25manna 2012 leg breakdown (
I was selected to run the 5th leg on the really strong second team, as the second of four runners out. With 100 club members racing, as well as coaches and support crew, two buses were required to transport the club to the competition. We all piled into the buses last Friday afternoon, and 6 hours later, after two bus quizzes, and a dinner stop at IKEA Linköping, we arrived at the hotel south of Stockholm.
The two club buses
The size and club atmosphere of the event was apparent upon arrival to the parking area early Saturday morning. One of the cool things with 25manna, different from other individual races in Sweden, is that all the clubs travel in their own buses. The parking was located on an old runway, with a hundred buses lining the length of it. I took a video of the long walk down the runway, but didn’t get a chance to edit it.

 This doesn't show how big the arena really was...

My team, GMOK 2, was off to a great start with some really strong early runs. The legs go by really quickly though, and before I knew it I was into the changeover area doing my final warm-up with my fellow leg runners; Viktor, Anders, and Magnus. The parallel legs are interesting in that you are always seeing doubles, those from the same club with the same tops, both warming up and in the woods. I was tagged off in really good position by Martin, the second youth runner on leg 4, 10s after Viktor. I ran an ok race with a few smaller mistakes. The pace was really high, and I was amongst other runners most of the time. I managed to “do my job” and exchange in as the first of my team, handing off to Ulf and the 40+ guys on leg 6. The other guys ran well, and we were able to move up 3 spots as a leg from 28th to 25th.

 Finish chutes
Our first team, GMOK 1, was amongst the top teams throughout the race, and after leg 24 was together in the lead with Halden SK. Our last leg runner, Erik, wasn’t quite able to keep pace with World Champion Olav Lundanes, but managed to hold second place. A fantastic result for the club! The rest of GMOK 2 ran really well, and after some pressure from OK Linné 2 we managed to finish as the top second team in 34th place. A great result which highlights the club’s depth. A more detailed write-up of the day can be found here:
It was a great day and a great weekend, and it was really cool to be a part of the GMOK crew. After three weeks of rain in Göteborg prior to the event, it was nice to have a weekend of sun, which definitely added to the positive feelings. A big thanks to the rest of the GMOK runners and to the coaches and for all their work!

American runner Ross Smith showing his club spirit for OK Linné

GMOK 2 youth runners with the top 2nd team plaque (photo credit:

GMOK 1 on the podium as the 2nd place team (photo credit:

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