Running on clouds
Seasons change but not our devotion to bringing you great gear. On the path to becoming a four-seasons brand, we have drawn massive inspiration and useful lessons from the mountains surrounding our home town Åre. Let us present another local gem: trail running in the footsteps of the immensely popular Fjällmaraton at Mount Välliste. A better test ground for our new collection is hard to find.
The last patches of snow have barely melted, as the mountain changes its palette from white to budding greens, and we swap our ski boots for light running shoes. We head upwards, towards marshes, moorland and rocky trails, places we recently swooped across on skis.
Running along winding mountain paths is not simply a way of staying in shape (until the next ski season), it is an encounter with the natural world – a way of experiencing, unfiltered, the mountains, forests and shifting weather. Many skiers are drawn to the sense of freedom and closeness to nature that is found when exploring roadless terrain. This also holds true for Elevenate, and is one reason why our new summer collection also includes running gear.
We have discovered some of our favourite places for mountain running thanks to the Fjällmaraton. When this race started in 2005, it had 60 people on the starting line. Now, there are 3,000 participants who spend a week in the mountains surrounding Åre. What’s the attraction?
A spectacular route through fantastic scenery, a great atmosphere and superb organisation. We have gratefully used the expertise of the race’s course setters to boost our own runs, picking one or two stages of the 43-kilometre-long course to cover at our own tempo. Just us and the mountains, and occasionally a hiker or berry-picker along the route.
This is exactly what we set out to do, one day in the late summer of 2018, to test some prototypes for our upcoming collection. Our goal is a favourite route across Välliste, a mountain visible from the window of Elevenate’s office. Conditions look great as David and Marika park the car and lace up their running shoes in Trillevallen, about 20 km from Åre. It is uphill from the start, a tough climb past the old shieling and up towards the open mountainside.
Marshes and mountain birch forest are replaced by moorland and shrubby dwarf birches. Muscles are working hard, conversation peters out and heart rates rise, but eventually the ground levels out and we can move at a pleasant pace, minds clear. And suddenly we get a taste of the fickle mountain weather – mist rapidly draws in, along with chilly winds, and we are among the clouds on top of the mountain. The temperature drops several degrees in one go.
In a situation like this, we’re thankful that the La Bise Jacket is one of the garments we’ve taken with us for testing. Feather-light, windproof and no bigger than a clenched fist when packed, it always comes along on outings in the mountains. Now it’s put on, and Marika and David – who had almost begun shivering – can relax and start enjoying themselves again. Despite tired legs, their pace feels good as they run through the mist.
“It’s almost as if I’m floating through the mist, I feel like I weigh nothing at all,” says Marika. There aren’t many amazing views to be seen this time, but we’ll be coming back again. As we get into the cars, we’re deliciously tired and happy, and have some insights to take back to the subsequent evaluation with the design team in the office.
“Having the mountains so close to our design studio is invaluable when designing this type of product,” says Elevenate’s designer Sara Rönngren.“Getting out there quickly to test the protypes in the right environment – I get direct feedback about whether what we have created is functional or we need to take another look at the details.”