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Discussion with Patrick Stangbye

Oslo,Norway Words : Lionel Fracture , Images : Patrick Stangbye

Hi Patrick, can you quickly introduce yourself, where do you come from, what do you do for a living?
I’m 30 years old from the suburbia around Oslo, Norway. Currently lived in Oslo for the past 5 years after both studying on the west-coast and living abroad (including Paris). Working in a media house with digital advertising and strategy. Worked previously with clothing, perfumes and sportswear. Everything from ecommerce strategy to buying.

Honestly, is Norway the best place on earth for trail running?
It’s a country with huge variations in landscape. From fjords and runnable mountains to more alpine ridges. Personally I also really enjoy the forest.  

Norway is svery long. If you would turn it upside down, it would reach further than Rome, Italy. We have a wide variety of scenery. We got beautiful forest trails on the outskirts of Oslo with very technical trails. To beautiful fjords with steep mountains on the west where also Kilian Jornet resides. In the north we have places like Lofoten, Lyngen and Tromsø. And situated in the middle of the country national parks like Jotunheimen and Rondane. The trails can be rough though, and not too polished. I enjoy that, but I have met foreigners racing here that commented on it. Weather can be brutal even in summer in the mountains, so always bring extra gear. Same goes for the Alps and any place with elevation.

What place does running have in your life? You wear a lot of technical clothing every day. Do you do this for practical or aesthetic reasons?
Running is the affirmation of my closeness to nature and helps me being aligned to both my own body and mind. I enjoy it and find great pleasure in running, but not without obstacles from time to time. More than anything it’s a leisure activity, it’s not a job, so I’m an amateur in the best sense.
Technical clothing for me is a bit complicated. I grew up snowboarding, in a country with a lot of different weather conditions. I also always respected the material research and testing that went into technical clothing. As for the momentum we’re seeing, I have some ideas:

Which are your favorite Trail and road Running shoes. How would you describe it? What are your feelings with?
Right now, I must say Nike for Road. I am currently running in the Vaportfly NEXT% myself and some Zoom Fly 3 for recovery runs. For trail I have been through a lot of brands in the past years. Ground-feel and grip are my main priorities, I will sacrifice it for cushioning up to races around 80km. Right now I’m not perfectly happy with anything. Arc’teryx Norvan SL is good but too minimal for longer efforts, I have seen the 2 and it should be better. I used to wear a lot of Salomon Sense SG (5,6,7) but the contagrip cannot compete with Vibram Litebase. It’s funny seeing brands like VJ and other smaller ones like Dynafit also doing better than a lot of big players, listening to athletes. My issue with a lot of trail shoes is aesthetics. The colorways we now all want and see is from vintage stuff from the early 2000s, but the brands are not keeping up. Hoka is doing a good job, and I ran in the speedgoat previously, but I prefer a better ground feel on technical terrain than what their current models offer. 

What are for you the type of runner to which those pairs will suit best?
Someone running fast on technical terrain. I think if you’re just getting started and don’t like to go hard on technical trails then you could use some more cushioning. For the road, I think many will enjoy Nike’s offering.

Are there some Running shoes that you like to Wear in your everyday life ? How do you explain this current trend for outdoor clothing?

Actually I lined up for the first release of Nike Flyknit back in 2012 if I remember correctly. I bought the trainer. I also wore the first Nike Zoom Fly SP casually, before I raced in them. I have a variety of Asics, Salomon, Hoka and Arc’teryx trail shoes that I wear casually also. 

  1. People are living complex lives where technology is more and more embedded into all of it and increased pressure politically/financially. The outdoors and the brands related to it offer a promise and aspirations of something simpler/more pragmatic
  2. In the current political climate and with environmental awareness, educated people more often than not seem to want to tap into the connotations and values of outdoor brands rather than opulent luxury. It seems more modest, intellectual and in-line with values, besides not being sustainable enough for our planet.
  3. Climate fear is real. It harms our mental wellbeing realizing how vulnerable we are. To a certain extent we cope with this trauma and stress not necessarily by becoming doomsday preppers, but there is definitely a psychological element of climate fear involved in the fact that utilitarian outdoor gear which protects you from the elements is trending.

Nike is putting a lot of energy into its Trail running range. Do you think that the swoosh brand will succeed in establishing itself as a key player in the Trail?
I started running trail more than a few times casually after having seen the YouTube-video of the Nike Trail Team running during the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc week in Chamonix. They definitely had a strong team back then, even if two of them left for The North Face and Hoka. Nike definitely got the R&D to do good in trail, but so far it did not seem as their heart was really in it. They should look to their 90’s ACG marketing and product, it had much more grit back then.

Where will this trail running trend stop? Looks like the possibilities are endless.
I would like to address that trail running and mountain running is not super democratic still, so this is what needs to be fixed. It’s to some extent a sport for middle aged men with both lots of time to spend and money to go places which is not necessarily easily accessible. I do think any local trail can be just as fun as some spectacular view, so I hope more city people can go to the outskirts of their cities to also find some good loops and explore nature in a different way.

Does even a successful and competitive runner like you manage to detach yourself from your watch and the clock when running in nature?
First of all, not sure how successful I am as a runner, but I am definitely competitive when I race. It depends on the purpose of a run. Even when training for something, most of my runs will be easy. A short stop for a photo or some detour to a nice view is just an added bonus to the run. That said, if you’re doing uphill repeats you better check your watch or at least get to know your heart rate by feel.

Can you already tell us about the next big trend in running?
This will be hard to predict, but we see a variety of different races now. I also believe in running as a means of transport (this is what we used to use it for right?). Running to have new experiences is something I believe in. You can run errands, run to a restaurant at the mountain top to have a good meal, or run to catch a swim at a nearby lake. It doesn’t have to be considered training to be in movement. Running is also about community, and community is more important than ever.

If you were to invite us on a race to impress us, what would it be?
I would check what sort of distance you wanted to do, as we have tons of beautiful races here. From classical uphill races to newer long distance mountain races. I would rather take you camping and running in Åndalsnes where Kilian Jornet lives. It’s the birthplace of Scandinavian alpinism and Trollveggen mountain has the tallest vertical rock face in Europe. Let me know, and we´ll organize a trip.