My fourth and final European Trip in 2017 took me to Stockholm, Sweden for Tough Viking. Tough Viking is a Swedish Race series hosted across Sweden whilst other races are also hosted in France and Norway
Tough Viking Royal. Djurgården was billed as the”Crown jewel” and was 15km of trails through the Royal Gardens of Stockholm.
TLDR – An awesome race which I found to be just behind Tough Mudder, but on an equal footing with it’s Swedish competitor – Toughest. Many race series can learn a lot from Tough Viking from organisation, to locations and obstacles. I’m already booking for 2018.
Here is my Race Review of Tough Viking and what will definitely be one of the highlights of 2017:
The overall location was perfect. VERY easily accessible by public transport (buses every 15 minutes from the centre of Stockholm and only 15 minutes away) whilst a number of car parks served those wanting to drive. Toughest Amsterdam was also accessible by public transport (5 minutes walk from the nearest train station). UK races should take note as apart from Mens Health Survival of the Fittest (off the top of my head), most races need a car to get to the location.
Waves were sent off every 10 minutes with around 150 in each wave. A quick 3 minute warm up and then fire and a HGV horn to start things off. Straight into a group of american football players with tackle pads to warm us up. The next few obstacles included tyre hop and A frame before going into the MUD…
3 mud pits were man made and made up of the clay like mud which just sinks people in and find it hard to get out. The first pit I saw people from the last wave still trying to get out (without shoes) whilst I almost lost my leg! I took it easy and light over the first pit, under the camo net of the second and jumped the third. Kiaran wasnt so lucky and was stuck fast in the camo net pit. It was really was a good 5 minutes or so which sapped his strength and almost lost his shorts. This actually ruined his race, being absolutely shattered, the rest of the race was taken at a slow pace. Later, I saw the camo net had been removed.
Straight up was the ice water dunk. It really didn’t wash off much of the mud it was that clay-ey and dense. Next came the fire jump – actually three in a row! The pits were much higher and hotter than at Spartan and, either the Swedish are great at building fires, or they were gas powered to give it more flame.
The next few kilometres was taken into the forest and up and down the granite boulders. Some great technical trail to break things up a little. Kiaran was still quite muddied up and he said he felt like he was running with an extra few kgs of mud and clay.
Out of the forest and we hit a large field of flat terrain. Obstacles were placed around 400m apart with switch backs up and down the field. This was great for spectators to find and cheer on the runners. Obstacles included spinning rings, a short and long rope rig, inverted walls, ninja steps and a balance beam. This section ended with the super ramp an VERY tall quarter pipe (taller than toughest’s finish wall and everest) It did have rope for competitors to grab on to – I doubt not even Jon Albon would do it without the rope – but some people were tired from all the grip strength obstacles and just could grab on. I managed to do this solo as there was no one at the top to help. Once I got to the top, I turned around and helped a few people get to the top.
The next section was back into technical trails – a swamp stomp, jerry can carry and barbed wire crawl. We were then met with a long water/swim section at least 500m – but probably towards 700m
Straight out of the water and towards a long set of monkey bas – this was a huge mistake as the bars were very wet and slippery. I grabbed onto the sides and managed to get across – around 20m in total with a small apex in the middle. JoJo fell off the bars and hit her shin very hard on the side structure. Luckily she was ok apart from a small bruise. I took her penalty laps for her. The penalty laps were only in operation for the more technical obstacles and consisted of running around a short 15m course 5 times.
More technical trails led us to bulgarian bags, tall rope climb, irish table and net climb. Getting towards the event village, we were on the home straight. Not before the Atlas stones – “heavy” option 80kg and “light” 50kg! A short run PAST the event village (evil) took us to a dunk before heading back to a huge cage crawl, across the electric wire traverse and over the finish line for the hard-earned medal, red bull and chocolate protein bar. The medal is definitely one of my favourites, a good weight and engraved with the event location and year.
Overall it was a fantastic race – around 40 obstacles over the 17km stretch without any “filler” obstacles (climbing over hay bales, jumping over a pallet/fence). The organisation was perfect, regular email communication and even a text message a few days before confirming registration times, start numbers and location. The event village had a lively atmosphere, the start and finish line being next to each other and a large screen TV showing some live footage. A huge number of toilets, a free bag drop and a choice of food outlets.
Only a couple of gripes – Monkey Bars straight after the water section was not great thinking. No photos or T shirts as part of the race (this is the same as toughest). Only a couple of photographers around the course, but so far only 1 facebook album of 400 photos have been published. T shirts can be purchased for £30 from the merchandise tent.
The biggest compliment I can pay it is that I am already looking to book the same race next year to take it on again.