Mårten Boström Interview


The Flying Finn orienteering at Lake Pleasant

For the first of in a series of winter interviews we are pleased to introduce the charismatic young Finn, Mårten Boström. Having started orienteering at 4 years old and going on to a successful junior career (including JWOC silver in classic distance, 2001), Mårten decided to try to realise his potential as a long distance runner and matriculated at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Since then he has recorded some fast times, regularly running sub 29:30 for 10, 000m and celebrated success with his University XC team who are now ranked #2 on the competitive US collegiate circuit. On top of all this fast running the 25 year old popped back to Europe this summer and took in a few orienteering races scoring himself 4 World Cup top ten finishes (including the WOC sprint). Although he normally runs over 200 km a week, Mårten found time for a chat with nopesport:

This year you raised a few eyebrows when after doing almost no orienteering for about 9 months you came back to Europe and in about your 3rd race back finished 5th in the World Cup sprint in Lapua. How was this possible?

That’s how I work. I found out during my junior years, that I get tired of O if I orienteer all winter long. It needs to feel like a challenge when I get my hands on the map – not an everyday thing. There is not a whole lot of O going on in Arizona, so I was not even able to practice any orienteering even if I would have liked to...

Has something changed in your orienteering this year? You even got 18th at middle distance in Hovden and 9th at WOC, in fact your only “bad” race was the qualifier at WOC (14th) ?

I haven’t tried to change anything. Due to the small amount of O I did I guess I might be a little more careful in my orienteering. At Hovden I just wanted to make things simple by focusing on big features in the terrain. Middle has always been my weak distance, but I love the marshes on the slopes in Norway!

Do you train orienteering/ think about orienteering at all or is it all running?

It’s all about running until I hit European ground and feel like O again.

Going back to your excellent result in the WOC sprint in Kiev, were you satisfied with your performance? There were some crucial route choice legs, did you take the best routes?

Yes, thanks. I believe I chose the fastest routes. I lost some time in areas with dense vegetation, as there weren’t any tracks yet, when I arrived*. I cannot quite remember the whole route now though... (*Mårten was one of the first starters in the sprint final)

Tell us a bit about the set up at Northern Arizona University, how much do you have to study and what facilities are there for training?

Currently I have 2 classes daily, from 9 to 11. I already finished a scuba diving class and an online class is starting shortly. An athlete has to pass 12 credit hours a semester to be eligible to compete and the classes have to take you towards a degree. Next spring I will only have one class, three days a week as I am graduating.

Flagstaff has endless dirt trails out in the Ponderosa Pines. Apart from them I currently take advantage of the NAU training room with a cold whirlpool and half a dozen of physiotherapists working for us. In the wintertime we also run on our 300m indoor track and swim in our full-size aquatic centre. There are also good opportunities for cross-training indoors. Whenever we feel like we need speed, we drive 45mins to Sedona at 1400m:s above sea level. Coming from 2100m:s that feels like sea level!

What do your teammates at NAU think about your orienteering? Have they heard of the sport?

I have to explain what the heck orienteering is about twice a week. Some are definitely starting to get a clue what I am talking about.

In amongst your track, road and XC racing out there you have run one or two orienteering races, what is the sport like out there?

In Arizona the cacti are the biggest challenge. The visibility is always good and the hills pretty significant. Whenever I finish a race people are wondering where I got all the punches on my card – as there is no way anyone could get around a 9k course in 50mins...! Up in northern California, in the Bay Area orienteering is advanced and the courses as challenging as in Europe.

Flagstaff sits at an altitude of 7000 ft (2100 m), do you think training and living at that altitude gives you an edge? Do you notice it’s tough to do the hard sessions when you get back there?

I think I have acclimatized for life by now, having lived here 2,5 years. I don’t recognize a difference when I arrive at altitude and do a hard workout. I came here for the altitude, but I’m not convinced of the edge altitude is supposed to give endurance athletes.

On your website you list 4 goals: Finishing your degree in 2010, the Beijing Olympic marathon, the World Cross Country Champs and WOC gold. You’ve already run 2:20:03 for the marathon (Paris, 2005, 27th place), what time do you have to get to qualify for the Finnish team for Beijing? When are you going for it (maybe London marathon?)? And how confident are you (I see you ran 1:06:32 for half marathon this year)?

You’re not going to succeed if you stop trying. 2.15’ would qualify for sure (unless three guys comes from behind a tree and runs faster than me), but as I am young as a marathoner 2.16’ should make it. I will give the challenge a shot on January 13th in Houston, Texas and if it’s not there yet, hopefully once more in a spring marathon.

If it doesn’t work out with Beijing we think the urban/park WOC sprint in Olomouc will suit you, maybe you can tick off one of those other goals and wait for the London games in 2012?

That’s the sidetrack.

You recently met a bear in the woods on a training run, who was more surprised you or the bear (seeing a crazy Finnish guy running fast)?

He took off even faster, so I guess him.

What do you miss about Finland/ Europe, if anything, when you’re in Flagstaff?

Sauna, salmiakki & dark rye bread.

Will we see you at the World Cross Country Champs in Edinburgh next year?

Cross country is close to my heart, but this winter, when we’re done with XC here in the states, I will focus on the marathon.

How much support do you get from the Finnish orienteering team?

I have to pay to be a member of the B-team. My results are not good enough to qualify for the A-team.

Are they happy that you spend most of your year focussing on running?

Not really. But with the support they are giving me, they don’t really have a say to it.

Is it possible that you are the fastest runner in World orienteering?

Perhaps on a good day. It helps for me to think that I’m the fastest, as then I can focus on the orienteering.

Good tip, thanks Mårten, nopesport wishes you lots of luck on the road to Beijing and will look out for you in the forests too, although he might be hard to spot, orienteering at speeds as fast as 3:43/km (Jämi-Jukola 2004, “the fastest man in Jukola history”)


Måre with his NAU teammates at pre-Nationals 2007

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