Meet Emilia Lindstedt: the new queen of long-distance racing
“This is both my best and worst experience. I have never been so tired in my life,” the 27-year-old after finishing the 220 kilometer Nordenskiöldsloppet.
Lindstedt, who has been racing the Ski Classics for two years, polished off the rugged classic race from Purkjaur to Jokkmokk in Northern Sweden in 14 hours and one minute. She was more than three hours ahead the next female racer and only a good half hour behind the overall winner (Andreas Nygaard, who finished in 13:25).
The victory was more than the rookie had dared to hope for stepping up to the starting line on Saturday, March 24. With a dusting of fresh snow in the tracks and challenging, slow conditions, it didn’t look like a course record-breaking day in the world’s longest ski marathon.
“This was the first time I raced Nordenskiöldsloppet. I expected it to be a huge challenge both physically and mentally. I hoped to find the flow, and avoid any big problems. I was really nervous and curious about how my body would respond, and how it would feel, given that Vasaloppet was the longest race I had done so far, and Vasaloppet is only 90 kilometers. Of course, I always race to win and I always aim to ski as fast as I can,” she says.
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When did you realize the victory was within reach?
“It’s hard to say exactly when I knew I could win, but as early as after 30 kilometer I realized I was the only girl in the lead group. While so much can happen in a long race like this, at the halfway point where the course loops back, I saw that I had a huge gap to the next female racer. I still felt really strong, and I started believing I might just nail the victory. The last 20 kilometers I could let up a little bit, and I was able to really enjoy the race.”
This race is more than twice as long as the Vasaloppet. What does it take to handle such a distance?
“To go this far, it’s important to be mentally prepared for the task, have a positive attitude and be able to motivate yourself during the race. And of course it’s important to stay fueled along the way. I had a really great support team. My younger brother and my boyfriend followed me all the way on a snow mobile. They gave me sports drink every 20 to 30 minutes and something to eat every hour. And I had amazing skis. They kept their glide the entire distance and that is incredibly important in a race like this.”
What will you do next season?
“The next season is still a bit up in the air. The last two seasons I’ve focused on the Ski Classics series, but prior to this season, my team folded, so this season has been quite different than I first expected. I really hope I can find a way to keep racing next season as well.”