‘Just run like hell’: Andreas Nygren, worn out from hiking and paddling, simplifies tactics to win Spitsbergen Marathon

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Marathoners typically spend the last few days before a race taking it easy so their muscles can recover from intense training. But Andreas Nygren wasn’t about to waste his few days in Svalbard, so he went on hiking and kayaking trips before the race – and thus feeling exhausted just reaching the starting line.

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A runner passes the famous polar bear sign while reentering Longyearbyen during the Spitsbergen Marathon on Saturday. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

Which made his tactics fairly simple.

“From the beginning I just wanted to see how fast I could run,” said Nygren, 31, who led from the start and beat 104 other runners to win the Spitsbergen Marathon on Saturday.

His time of two hours, 58 minutes and six seconds resulted in his first win as well as a new personal best time.

“I love Svalbard!” he shouted seconds after crossing the finish line and repeated it several times while describing what it was like during the race.

“The scenery was amazing and the course was great,” he said. “I love Svalbard.”

Nygren said he discovered the Spitsbergen Marathon while searching Google Maps for something usual – which for him is a high bar to clear considering his first marathon was inside a building he had to run through back and forth 211 times.

“This one is not crazy, but it’s far away,” he said.

It was roughly his 10th marathon. Among the marathons he hopes to run in the future is one in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The top women’s finisher was Mari Kråkemo Finnerud with a time of 3:03:20.

“That’s the best I’ve run,” she told Svalbardposten. “It was incredibly hard, but I hit my personal record by five minutes.”

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