Sometimes we hear about someone undertaking a challenge so impressive we just can’t help but get involved. This is exactly what happened when we heard local runner Tony Gavin was due to compete in the epic Icebug Xperience West Coast Trail in Sweden.
The race involves runners from over 30 countries taking on some of the best trails Europe has to offer.
3 different courses
75K in total
Tony is a passionate runner from Felixstowe. His Edinburgh Marathon personal best of 2.34.39 at the end of May 2022 saw him finishing an impressive 15th out of 8556 competitors, so when the opportunity arose to support Gavin in this new endeavour we couldn’t resist.
We caught up with Tony, to see how the event went and find out just what it takes to be a Goldstar runner!
Tony, first things first, how did you find out about this challenging event?
“It all started back pre-covid in 2019 when me and some mates talked about going over to Sweden to challenge ourselves at the Icebug Xperience West Coast Trail weekend.
Roll on 2022 and with the world getting back to some kind of normality, we decided to make a plan. A friend, Jim, who lives over in Sweden kindly offered to let us stay with him and his family in the town of Grebbestad on the west coast of Sweden.
So, on 21st March 2022 I took the plunge and signed up for the event.
I was confident I could do well at the event and as I was flying the flag for GB I decided to reach out to Goldstar Transport to ask about sponsorship. I’d like to say a big thank you Goldstar, who agreed to sponsor my running shirts and shorts for the 3 days”.
How did training for the event go?
“I took a few weeks off after the Edinburgh Marathon but then leading up to Icebug Xperience West Coast Trail I started to have problems with my Plantar Fasciitis (left foot) so decided to stop running again from about 3 weeks before the event.
Thinking I was doing the right thing preparation then went from bad to worse when I twisted my (right ankle) on a tree stump whilst messing about with the kids at Rendlesham forest 2 weeks before the Icebug Xperience West Coast Trail weekend.
Not the best of preparations leading up to an event but the time was upon us and plans had been made so off we set”.
The Icebug Xperience West Coast Trail Challenge
Wednesday 31 August 2022 PJ and myself set out on the first part of our journey for the race weekend flying from Stansted to Gothenburg where our friend Jim met us to drive back to his house in the early hours.
Thursday 01 September 2022 The morning started with some breakfast in a little cafe/bakery in Grebbestad, then we got to see some of Sweden whilst doing some SUP (stand-up-paddleboarding) and picked up our race packs from the start at Ramsvik.”
DAY 1 Friday 02 September 2022 Ramsvik to Hunnebostrand.
I settled into 2nd/3rd position early doors, 1st mile was reasonably flat and as most of my training this year was predominantly on the flat roads of England this was lovely and I felt good.
The rest of day 1 was lots of twists and turns ups and downs on the rocks and boulders. Thinking back on it now, most of the top runners used this as an easy day and to be honest it didn’t feel too taxing on my body either.
I finished off day 1 in 3rd position.
DAY 2 Saturday 03 September 2022 Island to Kungshamn
I had a few minor blisters after day 1, so I decided to change my footwear to a more trialled and tested running shoe rather than a trail shoe. If there was ever a schoolboy decision to make this would have been right up there at the top.
The first part of day 2 was a 10km run around the Island. This was the start of what I knew would be a real hard day for me. I was struggling to keep up with the top runners where I seemed to be putting double the amount of effort in on the terrain – I’ll be honest the top guys were making it look so easy, it wasn’t funny.
To top it all off, I twisted my right ankle again, at the time it was a worry, but fortunately never caused me to quit.
I struggled off the Island terrain and managed to catch up a little time on the run to the ferry, where I had the chance to refuel and hydrate.
The 2nd part of day 2 saw us taking on 20km of tough ups and downs through the Swedish countryside. After 12.5 miles of keeping within throwing distance of the top men and women, the wheels started to come off. I was a little broken my feet were in bits I could feel big blisters on the soles of my feet. Plan B was now in operation and I was just going to keep moving, my pace had slowed down considerably and about 2 miles from the end someone passed me, they initially pulled away but I gave myself a little carrot and managed to keep up only to outkick them to the finish line which was the 1 plus of the day lol.
I finished off day 2 in 8th position, which put me 7th overall.
DAY 3 Sunday 4th September 2022 Smogendon to Ramsvik.
Strapped up with a whole pack of Compeed on the soles of my feet, I was back running in my trail trainers.
It was a struggle, but believe it or not, I actually really enjoyed the final day!
To finish a tough event like this always touches me in some way and I definitely feel I have some unfinished business there and look to put that to bed in the coming years.
I finished off day 3 in 9th position, finishing 7th overall after 3 days of racing.
We think you’ll agree that Tony Gavin’s achievements on this impressive challenge are something to be proud of. We believe in supporting local sports people and championing health and fitness outdoors. If you’ve got a local sports story about a Goldstar Fitness Champion – we’d love to hear from you!