Jennie Stenerhag

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Gold at Swedish XCM Champs and "Finnmarksturen" 


Craig and I packed the Kodiaq on Friday to drive the 3,5 hours to Motala, the host town for the Swedish MTB marathon champs. As we arrived we changed to go out for a ride and the Swedish summer showed its worst side when the sky opened up and the rain came pouring down. It might have been good for me to prepare for the rain on race day.

I was very nervous since it means a lot to ride in the National jersey and I really wanted to hold on to it for another year. We had a separate ladies start one minute behind the elite men and men 30 and we started four minutes ahead of men 40 and older.The start order worked out really well. We had two laps to do on a shorter lap and then on to a longer lap and we had 2 hill prizes during the race, at 14 and 64 kilometres. Åsa and I set the pace from the start and kept going like that for the rest of the race, I had hoped a few more girls would have wanted to help making the race but it was clear that we were the strongest for the day and we would battle it out for the gold. I made 2 mistakes during the race, the first was at the first hill prize when I pushed too hard to get a big gap and I could feel that effort later on. I slowed down after the top and four other girls came back. As we went out for the second time on the shorter lap the men caught us and passed us. My second mistake was when I worked really hard to go with the men (which we were allowed to do), Åsa also caught up with the bunch and we sat at the back of that bunch as the only girls. We did not manage to hold on for long though since we lost them on a longer single track section and after that we were on our own until the second hill prize. Åsa was really strong and I was thinking a lot about how I could get away. I thought my only chance would be to get away on the short climb up to the prize and I let her sit at the front on the flat section leading up to the climb and gave it my all on the way up. At the top I was told I had a gap of almost 15 seconds and that was the time to try and go solo. I still had 25 kilometers to go which felt far on my own, there was also a risk since Åsa could get back to me if men caught her and she could get help. I looked back once to see that she was getting closer but then I looked back again to see that the gap was growing. So I just put my head down and got in to a rhythm and pushed an even pace on my own. It had started raining and the course got very muddy and sticky, so it did not feel fast, but I was just thinking that it was the same for her. I kept looking back but did not see her so as I entered the town and only had a few kilometers on tar left I started to relax a bit and felt that I had the win. It was such a nice feeling to win the 5th Swedish Champs and to hold on to the jersey for another year! Åsa finished 55 seconds behind and it had been a good fight which I really enjoyed!

Before start in my club kit.

Early on in the race

Swedish Champ!!!! :-)


After the prize giving we drove back home to unpack, wash all the mud out of the cloths and pack again for the next race. “Finnmarksturen” was the day after, luckily only a 45 minute drive away from home.

The weather forecast was not good and it predicted rain for the whole Sunday ,and it was not very motivating to get up and drive to Ludvika. Luckily the forecast was all wrong because even if it was raining a bit before the start it was sunny during the race, still muddy and slippery in the forest though.

At this race we started together with the men and the pace was high going up the start climb (if we can call it a start climb after Transalps…) I managed to ride away from Åsa already there but I did not have good legs and had to fight really hard the entire race! I lost the first mens bunch and when I looked back it was far to the next bunch so I was on my own in no mans land. Eventually another bunch caught me and I could sit behind for a little bit. After 12 kilometres the riders met each other and I could see Åsa a bit back. Craig was also racing and at one place I saw him on a long gravel road, he was on his own and my bunch caught him as we entered a long single track but I could not keep up and lost him and a few others. Later as I took my first bottle from my dad he asked where Craig was? I thought my dad and brother had missed him but it turned out that I had missed Craig when he was standing next to the course after a crash! Maybe it was good that I did not see him, it would only had made me worried. I managed to take the hill prize of the day but just after that I lost the small bunch I was in, I was getting really tired and was worried that Åsa would catch me. When I passed my supporters to get my second bottle I asked for a time gap, they said about a minute and I tried my best to push harder. I got some extra energy when I passed a friend of mine and her kids, they always stand at the same place at this race to cheer me on and it is so nice to see them there. I saw my brother and dad one more time and they told me that I had a lead of 2,40 minutes when I got the last bottle and with only 10 kilometres to go I could relax a little and I managed to win by just over 3 minutes. I was completely finished after the race!

On route

Craig with his injured knee. Photo: Eva Önnemar

Finish :-) Photo: Eva Önnemar

Now it is time to recover and I hope the 2 races this weekend has given a boost for CykelVasan next weekend which is my biggest goal during the Swedish summer!

Thank you so much to Craig and my family for the endless support with everything around my races! I could not do this without you! And a huge thank you to ÅBRO and CBC for all the support and always believing in me! 


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