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Connecting Ultrarunners Across The Globe

International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation

Speed is Dangerous – Interview with K-G Nystrom

By Andrei Nana

November 2014

Born in 1938, the Swedish athlete Karl-Gustav Nystrom has quite an impressive resume. He has finished over 1,200 official races. Very few other runners can even get close to that number, yet K-G Nystrom is still going strong. In November he will participate in the six day race, the Icarus Florida UltraFest[1], held in Ft Lauderdale.

The 6 day races are Nystrom’s usual and he considers them a “family reunion.” This year alone, he participated in three races of 6 days in the US and France. So what is his secret? Nystrom’s clear advice – based on 76 runners of running -- to new runners is simple: “Start extremely slow and eat normal food” because "Speed is dangerous."

Throughout his career, Nystrom’s has experienced “21 broken bones, heart stops, polio, meningitis, hepatitis, cancer, [and was incapacitated in a] wheel chair” and he credits his accomplishments to these obstacles he was required to overcome. “Thanks to these happenings I feel fine,” he explains.

“To stay alive” is Nystrom’s answer to what motivates him to run. A simple answer with profound meaning, the necessity is evidenced through his unbelievable career. And what allows Nystrom to run like he does? The answer again is simple: He believes in himself. While some might consider his running extreme, Nystrom believes it to be only extreme in the eyes of experts and scientists, and hopes people with “common sense” see him normal.

A self described pacifist, Nystrom doesn’t believe in fighting, pays little attention to politics, and prefers a minimalist approach to running. K-G explains, that athletes use, “too many chemicals and they [athletes] believe too much in expansive stuff.” But K-G is always a course favorite as he loves the chance to connect and learn from fellow runners. And certainly there is much to be learned from one of ultra-running’s most seasoned competitors.

On November 10th at Snyder Park in Fort Lauderdale the 76 years young Nystrom will share the course with elite runners from around the world in their quest for world records and he will also share his wisdom with new athletes willing to chat with him during a lap or two…

[1] Icarus Florida UltraFest – Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA 

Photo Credit: Nystrom library

Photo Credit: Israel Archuletta

Photo Credit: Nystrom library