Ultra-distance runner and Macpac Ambassador Vajin Armstrong is coming to the end of his European tour, having competed in some rather significant races over the last few weeks.
He’s still got two races left – including the Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos this weekend. We caught up with him between training sessions to hear how he’s going.
Having completed six races so far – Vajin’s feeling better than you’d expect.
“I am enjoying the whole experience. I just focus on staying in the moment and taking it one day at a time. I realise how lucky I am to be over here doing something I love so I always try and remain grateful for the opportunity,” he says.
Vajin completed one of his biggest races yet over the weekend – the Laugavegur Ultra – a 56km trail race which runs through some really wild and dramatic areas in the South of Iceland. This race marked the beginning of Vajin’s ultra-distance season – and he’s very pleased with how it’s kicked off after coming in at second.
“I am happy with how it went and feel that it was a great stepping stone to get back into the ultra running mindset. I had a good solid run, but more importantly I got to run through one of the world’s most amazing places on a beautiful day with a whole lot of like-minded people.”
Vajin says the most challenging part of the race was all the snow through the first part of the course. Despite it being summer time now, Iceland had a big winter, and there was much more snow on the course than usual for this time of year.
“Trying to run fast on snow makes you work really hard to keep upright and to maintain traction, so it definitely leads to you burning more energy. In some ways though this was one of the best parts as well as we were up high with great views running through some pretty amazing landscapes,” says Vajin.
Vajin also recently competed in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Switzerland where he represented Athletics New Zealand. The course was marathon distance (42.2km), but with nearly 2,000m of climbing – it was tougher than many races Vajin has completed in so far.
He came in at 16th – an incredible result after competing among some of the best mountain runners in Europe.
“I’m really pleased with my performance in this race. The conditions were challenging – it got to over 30C in the second half, and the quality of the runners in the field made it a real battle,” says Vajin.
The next race on Vajin’s agenda is the Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos. It’s 78km long and goes into some great alpine terrain, crossing the Sertig Pass which is more than 2700m high.
“It’s got a really long runnable climb which goes from around 1000m up to 2500m which suits me really well. I raced here in 2013 and placed 2nd so I am hoping for a big performance come Saturday.”
From Davos, Vajin will head to to Livigno, Italy for a big block of training.
“While I’m in Italy, I’ll be spending most of my time preparing for ‘the big one’ – the Ultra Trail Mt Blanc. It’s 168km long with nearly 10,000km of climbing meaning it requires some equally serious preparation.”
Despite all the hard work that training for such big races entails, Vajin is feeling great, keeping a positive mindset, focusing on his goals, and enjoying the European scenery.
“You realise that at some point in your life you will look back on these times as being really special so it’s nice to try enjoy them while they are here.”
Macpac is proud to sponsor Vajin with gear for his trip, ensuring he is protected from the elements.
Keep an eye on the Macpac Blog and Vajin’s Facebook page to get the latest on his European tour.