PHOTO GALLERY: KangNu Race: Running in Nuuk Backcountry

IMG_0815Reality sets in when you pick up your race number and race shirt!

Greenlanders love to escape to the backcountry to have barbecues, hunt, relax, and even exercise! In Nuuk especially, there are quite many possibilities for organized runs like the Nuuk Marathon, a 120 km / 75 mi race from Nuuk into Nuuk Fjord, a mountain challenge to the tops of Ukkusissat and Quassussuaq (780 m / 2559 ft and 443 m / 1453 ft, respectively), and this very 20-35 km / 12-22 mi KangNu Race from Kangerluarsunnguaq (the next fjord south of Nuuk) to Nuuk.

Running Novice

Now, just because I participated in the KangNu Race, please don’t confuse me with some über-fit and dedicated runner. The only reason I felt comfortable signing up for the KangNu Race was because there was the possibility to hike the course – an option that 59% of participants opted for this year, actually.

While it is true that I love to get that post-workout high, a Runner I am not. In fact, the longest run I have ever done in my life is perhaps 10 km / 6 mi. And, a Trail Runner I am certainly not! As in, I have never run in the nature before. Herein lies the reason why the KangNu Race was such a personal achievement for me!

Believe me when I say that running the KangNu Race was never on my radar until the very moment the clock started at the starting line in Kangerluarsunnguaq, on 9 August 2014. perfect storm of motivations, and the coolest new friends, just made my feet start running. Even at that time, I never formulated the goal to run the entire race.

Mental Strength

Though I was by no means thinking to such a highly composed degree on race day, after 2.5 weeks of reflection I have come up with three mantras that quite accurately represent my mental state during the KangNu Race. Sorry in advance for turning into a life coach for a minute 🙂

1. You can do anything you put your mind to. Physical challenges are 20% physical strength and 80% mental strength.

I wish I could say I eat the world’s most balanced diet and that I had been training for weeks to conquer this run, but truthfully, it was all mental right there in the moment. I just took it from minute to minute thinking, “This feels okay right now. I could keep running”. So I did. I did not even listen to music during the run, and that is amazing to me, even now! What was I thinking of for so many minutes?? I cannot remember.

Instead, I watched my footing like a hawk, enjoyed the mountain- and fjord-view that literally never loses its impressiveness, and talked myself through sore hip flexors and heel blisters a few times. Suddenly, 3 hours and 8 minutes was over and I felt on top of the world!

2. Compete with yourself, not others.

There is something to be said about setting realistic goals and that all starts and ends with you. What works for someone else has absolutely nothing to do with you, so the only sustainable routine is to keep your focus inward. At the end of the day, you are your own biggest motivation.

There were one or two periods of the KangNu Race when I was totally alone in the nature, unable to see anybody in front or behind. At those times, how does one measure whether she’s going fast enough, pushing hard enough? You can’t. I couldn’t. I could only look at myself and ask – am I going fast enough for myself? Am I happy with myself? The answer was yes, so I was right on track 🙂

3. Every time you do something you thought you could not do, you set a new bar for yourself. Live life by constantly setting new bars and you will naturally evolve into the best version of yourself.

Sometimes these tests of character and willpower and strength come at the end of a long road of deliberate training and focus, and sometimes they fall into your lap out of nowhere. But no matter what, these events are monumental in shaping your person and eventually even a “new you”. Recognize that you have done something great, and give yourself every bit of the credit you deserve! Then promise yourself to always strive to recreate this experience with something a bit different, a bit bigger, a bit better.

As I said, before the KangNu Race I didn’t consider myself “a runner,” but now I am thinking about what races I can do in the future, both in Greenland and in the United States. The wheels are certainly turning, and so it seems maybe I am in the midst of creating a new Me…

Now for some pictures to show the day!

IMG_0882 All smiles here as we sail on Ivik from Nuuk to the starting line in Kangerluarsunnguaq, the next fjord south of Nuuk, on the morning on 9 August 2014.

IMG_0892 Passing Qinngorput, the most southerly development in Nuuk.

IMG_0902Kingittorsuaq is the landmark that lets you know you have reached Kangerluarsunnguaq.

IMG_0906 Eager participants at the starting line in Kangerluarsunnguaq. With participants arriving just 12 at a time via boat transport from Nuuk, there was bound to be a little bit of standing around and waiting. It’s all part of the experience!

IMG_0908 View from the starting line in Kangerluarsunnguaq. If you are ever so lucky as to stand here, please please take a moment to be grateful for everything in your wonderful life that has brought you to this point.

IMG_0914 A fjord ahead (Nuup Kangerlua)…

IMG_0918 … And a fjord behind (Kangerluarsunnguaq)…

IMG_0920 … And in the midst, one woman just running from yellow dot to yellow dot until she reaches the finish line! Photo taken after exactly 1 hour of running, 2 hours to go. Starting line was down by that island in the background.

IMG_0923 Seeing Sermitsiaq, Nuuk’s landmark mountain, means we are at the home stretch!

IMG_0925 After 2 hours and 45 minutes of trail running, one of my three running mates, Nivikka, and I are still in good spirits. We also know that we are VERY close to the finish line!

Of course, my adrenaline was so high at the end that I completely forgot to take finish line pictures, but Qanorooq, part of the Greenland national broadcast, actually captured me on film crossing the finish line (cue to 7:20). How cool!

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4 thoughts on “PHOTO GALLERY: KangNu Race: Running in Nuuk Backcountry

  1. Your writing about your experiences is inspiring. Hope someday you will write a book. Am going to pass this account of the race to Kathy.. She is also a runner (as you are now).
    Ruth

  2. Hi Sarah, my name is Charley Fiedeldij Dop, Im a Dutch journalist, writing an article about foreigners living in Greenland and would love to get into touch with you. Could you send me an email? It’s: c.fiedeldij.dop@vpro.nl. Thanks in advance! Kind regards, Charley

  3. Pingback: Hiking In Greenland – Kingittorsuaq Mountain in Nuuk | Adventures of a Polarphile

  4. Pingback: KangNu: 35 km Terrain Run in Nuuk | Adventures of a Polarphile

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