It’s outside your comfort zone where all the magic happens
He is searching for his limits; how fast he can go? How far he can go? How good can he get in spite of age.
Tomas is a 47-year-old, laid back, hardworking and determined Ultra-Skyrunner from Sweden. He is also a father to 4 children, married and has been through a lot in life.
He hasn’t always had this lifestyle, only starting running at the age of forty. Since then he has accomplished 23 Ultramarathons, 6 Ironman, 7 Swedish classics (Ski 90k, bike 300k, swim 3k, run 30k) and 6 Super Classics.
This is Tomas’ story…
When did you start running
I started training when I was 40, and soon found that this was something that I enjoyed and was quite good at. I found the love for endurance sports, and soon ran my first ultramarathon in the Spanish mountains. I love the mountains, and long endurance runs with a lot of altitude gain.
What is most important for you in life?
Equal rights for everyone, a sustainable lifestyle, and a green, happy planet.
Where does your passion for skyrunning come from?
I did my first real ultra in Spain, Ultima Frontera 55k with 1500m+ in 2014. I took 2nd place in the race on 5:19, and then I was hooked. I did not truly understand what running ultras was until I ran the Templiers in 2015 (100k with almost 5000m+). I was really low and needed to take the race one step at the time at one point.
After the race I was humble over the small things in life, I was quite emotional during the following 2 weeks and then I knew what it was all about; I do this because it is hard. Because it reminds me of what is important in life.
Can you describe your significant personal strengths that took you all the way to this level of running?
I’m stubborn. I don’t give up. I can tolerate a lot of pain. I’m not fast, but I get stronger the longer the race lasts.
Is Skyrunning a hobby or is it something you do for a living?
It is a hobby. I work as a Creative Director and Brand Strategist at an advertising agency. The work is very creative, and you need to think a lot, but not physical. So, the training gives my brain time to reflect. I do some of my best work, unconsciously, when I go for a run. I could imagine working in the business of running in the future, maybe ss a mountain running guide, coaching, or otherwise. I would like to be able to combine the creative work I do with physical.
Have you always had this type of lifestyle or have you had any change in direction?
No. I took up training when I was 40. I realized that hard physical training made me a better person, and I liked that person. I also had a talent for it. In 1989, I was playing soccer, was really fit, and I ran the half marathon in 1:35. I stopped all physical training after that, got a big family and spent my free time making them a home. Then, in 2015, I bettered that half-marathon time with 12 minutes. Down to 1:23. Then I realized that you can get strong and fast even though you are old.
Which is the most challenging and demanding situations that you been through to get you where you are today as a person?
In life, losing my firstborn son, was the hardest thing. No physical or mental situation compares to that.
The most physical demanding situation was last year during the Gran Trail Penalara in Spain. After 13 hours in to the race I had already covered 100km and 4000m+ with temperatures of over 45 degrees. I had a long uphill stretch with 800m+ ahead of me, and another 30km of the race to run, when my body overheated. I got really dizzy, and I had to slow down my pace so as not to pass out on that mountain. I then realized that you walk a thin line sometimes, and jeopardizing my health or life for a race is not worth it. But I pulled through and finished in the end.
Do you usually push yourself outside your comfort zone? How does it feel at the time? Can you see that the rewards coming out of this is worth this little extra effort?
Yes, all the time. It is out of the comfort zone the magic happens.
What do your race plans and goals look like for 2020/2021?
Since almost all races have been cancelled, I’m taking on FKT challenges and climbing challenges. Next, I will do Everest. First on bike, then on foot. Climbing 8848 m+ in one go. My record is 7182m+, so I know I have it in me. 2021 will then be more normal, qualifying for the Western States 100 miler for the 7:th time. Maybe I get a place in the 2022 race.
What does a normal week of training look like for you?
Right now I run a lot. I have just completed the great virtual race across Tennessee, 1021km in 67 days. This means running 2 hours a day, mostly on my hilly backyard trails. I also do some bike training.
What are your best training tips to other Skyrunners all over the world?
Hill repeats. It is not the uphill’s that will get you, it is the downhills. Since I don’t have any mountains to train on, I’ll have to make the most of what I’ve got, and I have found that 4 hours of hard uphill walking and downhill running really makes your thighs burn. So, I’ll include that every second week in my training plan. Also, build upper body strength. Learn how to use your poles both on the uphill’s and downhills.
What are your favourite races that you would recommend to other Skyrunners all over the world?
Of the ones that I have run, the most scenic one has to be the Ultra Piruneu in Spain (94k with 6500m+) and the most epic place to run must be the Cappadocian Ultra in Turkey.
Are you involved in any other types of running-projects that you like to talk about?
I’m the race director for the Aktivitus Trailrace. A 170k race around trails in Gothenburg. This year’s race was cancelled, but we will be back the last weekend of April in 2021. I also run with “Glädjeknuff”, where we participate in races with children who cannot run by themselves. I also take groups of people out on the trails every week, short runs on Tuesdays and long runs on the weekends.
Do you have any dreams and goals for the future that you like to share?
I want to run the Western States Endurance Race (WESR). That has been my dream since 2015, and I have been qualified for it ever since that but have had no luck with the lottery draw. This year’s race was moved to 2021, so the next lottery draw will be for the 2022 race. I’d also like to try a multistage race like the Marathon de Sables, but they are very expensive, so that will have to wait.
How does your game plan look like for that?
You need to finish a 100 miler or difficult 100+km race that is on the qualifying list to be able to make the WSER lottery. And you have to do it each year to get extra tickets, so that is my plan for next year.
What is your inner drive?
I want to find my limits. How fast can I go, how long can I go. How can I still be competitive growing older.
What is your advice to other people who are dreaming of an active lifestyle and running in the mountains?
Don’t rush into it. Let it take time. Play the long game. First, start to love to run, then start to love to run long.
Do you have anything else in your life that you like to share or talk about in the blog?
No, just remember to take care of this planet, and all life on it. Peace, love and skyrunning.
Thank you, Tomas, for taking your time sharing your amazing story! Very inspiring!
Wishing you all the best luck in the future with your running and everything that you want to do in life.
Name: Tomas Amneskog
Family: Married, 4 children
Your team or sponsor now: Aktivitus Sports Club
Occupation: Creative Director & Brand Strategist
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tomas.amneskog
Webpage / Blog: http://www.amneskog.se
Overall facts and race achievements
23 Ultramarathons, 12 in one year (2019) ITRA ranking 636
6 Ironman, 3 in one year (2018), AWA Gold ranking
7 Swedish classics (Ski 90k, bike 300k, swim 3k, run 30k), 6 SuperClassics (20 hours total time)
Best Marathon time: 2:59
Best Half Marathon time: 1:23
Best 10k time: 38:29