We met a lot of amazing people at Transalpine race. We had the immense pleasure of spending a lot of time with a team from Sweden, who apparently were already fans of Run Like a Girl (they owned our hat!) Meet Torbjörn…or Tobbe… or as we like to call him “Turbo-Jon”, our first male RLAG ambassador.
I’m not a runner. I’m just a guy that runs.
At least that’s what I keep telling people. And until I almost hit 30 I wouldn’t even be a guy that runs.
Growing up with horrible coordination (hasn’t gotten any better) and weak knees (inherited from grandpa they’d say) sports wasn’t really a thing for me. Especially not running.
Peer pressure and what I guess amounts to fear of being left out made me run my first 10k ten years ago this year, I ran it. Survived. And could barely walk for a week due to my knees hurting too much. I swore to not do that again.
For reasons I’ll happily share on a long slow trail run I did do it again, found something that made me keep coming back, not to “running” but to spending long(ish) periods of time moving my feet forward. Any time someone asked if I ran it conjured up mental images of suffering and pain, lactate and taste of blood in your mouth, intervals and speed…. I summarily said “nope”. I’m not a runner. I’m just a guy that runs…
What I had found was a space where my monkey mind would settle down, where I could find clarity of thought. That’s what kept dragging me back out, what kept me searching for a way to run without pain. Quite naturally distances progressed, the 10ks turned into a half in 2009. The half became a Marathon in 2010.
The race itself and the idea of running as an adventure hadn’t materialized for me. I had no concept of or ambition beyond what I considered I pinnacle of human achievement. I wasn’t fast but I was a Marathoner.
Then an old friend from before my running days heard about my newfound interest. He congratulated me on my achievement and summarily said: So, are you ready for a real challenge? He started talking about a thing called “Ultras” and how we had a local coming up in just the right amount of time to get ready for it, he said something about 100 miles. I said something about him being a complete loon and that the most likely outcome of attempting something like that would be your legs falling off.
Many months later an early Saturday morning I stood at the starting line thinking “I’m here to run 100 miles, I wonder what I’ll find”. My longest run before that had been the Marathon. My solve focus, survival. I still vividly remember passing the 120km mark in the middle of the night, realizing that the kid who couldn’t run would actually complete this thing. With a Marathon to go, I had found home, I found clarity and I found my running tribe.
Shortly thereafter I was dragged from the asphalt and onto the trails. It might sound odd but that’s also when my running became more social, I found other runners equally out there not chase PR’s and splits. But searching for adventure, community and joy. I joined a running group and shortly thereafter found myself leading sessions with a focus on fun and experiencing nature.
I continue to run and seek out new challenges because it helps me process and handle the stress and frustration of everyday live, because it teaches me new things about myself. Increasingly I’ve found that I can use my running as a platform to give back and help others by inspiring others to pursue their dreams and daring to challenge established truths and ideas of what running is. I can use it to help others in need via charity events and fundraisers like the annual Swedish “Tjejmarathon” (Womens Marathon) an open to all event where each runner collect donations to support the Panzi Womens Hospital in Congo.
My “greatest hits” thus far includes
* Being one out of three finishers (out of a field of 17) in Swedens first 200 mile run the 2015 TEC200. (40:50:23, no you don’t sleep…, yes that’s almost 322km, indeed that’s super strange)
* Trans Alpine Run 2016 a week long jaunt over the alps. As they say, 7 days, 2 runners 1 dream.
* Sweden Sky Race 2014, 100km with 6000m +vert in the Swedish mountains accompanied by the midnight sun.
Looking forward into 2017 my hopes and ambitions are to continue pushing and finding just how far running happy can take me. I’ll be returning to Trans Alpine to tackle the alps once more, this time hopefully with the complete team making it. You run as a two person team and sadly my team mate got and had to drop out last year.
I’ll be running my first backyard ultra, an oddball event where you run consecutive, hourly 6.7k loops until all but one fail to finish within the 60 minutes. I hope to complete my first 24 (or maybe 48) hour race, I’ve heard it’s a mind game. I’m eager to see just how far that rabbit hole goes.
And of course I’m super excited to be representing RLAG to hopefully inspire movement, warmth and fearless exploration of what it means to really live. We all have our different reasons for running I hope to help more people embrace theirs, no matter if it’s an occasional jog around the block, your first 5k or some insane Ultra crazy thing I hope we’ll meet out there and jointly make magic.
Run, smile, dream, do.
Oh, and about the name, tax-authorities and mum call me “Torbjörn” most others “Tobbe” since that doesn’t work to well for most non-swedes “Toby” or [Two-Bee] is where many settle, a select crew of Canadians also know me as Turbo-John, my main problem with that is living up to it.