Sometimes miracles comes in pairs.
Nothing seems to fascinate people more than twins. As Shakespeare said: “So we grew together like to a double cherry, seeming parted, but yet a union in partition, two lovely berries molded in one stem.”
We are individuals with different desires, but still born together, it is for sure special to be twins. But on the other hand, we have never lived a life without a twin, so we don’t know how that life would be either. Though, you can really say that you are born with a best friend!
But how is it to compete and race with, and often against your sister? Well, life itself might be a big race, but talking about running and adventure races, as we do, we can tell you about our experiences. Sometimes it’s complicated, sometimes advantages.
In team races where you have to stick together, we often have advantages since we are very similar physically and know each other very well. Then the team playing goes without saying! We don’t need to wait for one another or vice versa. We see and hear when one maybe needs energy or push, and both are very competitive, which also is good. We can easily read each other, and know when it’s time to talk, or moments to be quiet and leave some space. I think that’s simpler for us to understand than for other people who are just friends. There are so many years we’ve been living together so we know so well how we work.
The duo races are the ones staying in mind the longest. It’s not just racing with your best friend. It’s a deeper connection, we are in the same family, and actually share the same blood and DNA as twins, which makes the bond even tighter. We can argue with each other not being afraid of loosing our love for one another. It’s much about the energy level which makes how we corporate, and that’s is a key factor on duo races. During the years we have experienced and learnt this. For example one of our first duo races was a long and tough 2 days orienteering race in the Swedish mountains. After some hours we got lost in the fog in bad cold weather. Snow all around us. And we were so focused on finding out where we were that we forgot to eat. After a while it was a disaster, frozen fingers and panicked girls. No one of us wanted to be in charge and solve the problem. But then we calmed down, hugged each other and manage to find an energy bar in a pocket. We shared it and suddenly everything just came out clear! After that our motto is to stick together, sharing and caring, everything will be solved sooner or later.
From now on we don’t give up easily if things go wrong, even though we may have a tough time out there. Beause we have experienced victories on such races too!
Another story from where we have been lost in the mountains is from one long orienteering race again. It was totally white out, and we had no idea which direction to head to. We ran around in a big circle for hours, following our own footsteps in the snow, which we realized were our own after the third lap… In many cases it’s not good to have two navigators, it’s better to have one in charge who make the decisions. But on that race, we put our brains together to find our way safe down from the mountain. Like a miracle we came RIGHT ON the checkpoint we had been looking for and the one we had given up finding. A “winner” dance and song came out from both of us and we raised ourselves from devastation to be over the moon!
On individual races it’s always fun to have a companion on the travel. After run and pre-run are quite a lot of time for any race, and we are often a big group of friends and runners, but still the preparation and “after chat” is best together with someone close. We like that we have the same kind of structure on things. After years of racing you get use to what and how to prepare for the specific race. The packing, food loading and pep talk works out so well when you know the person from inside and out.
Though when you are focused on you own race, you can’t control what happens to the other person. We went to France during a heat wave in Europe to do our first real mountain marathon. We were veeery unplanned and arrived late in the evening the day before the race, without enough food, water or sleep. The race was super tough and running in extreme heat without enough water is devastating. Lina did finish though as first woman. Sanna was second all the way to about two kilometers left to the finish when she stumbled several times and the couldn’t get up.
She was totally dehydrated and was flown by a helicopter unconscious to the hospital in another village. Lina got the news hours later after waiting in the finish area. Not knowing Sanna’s condition and being far away from each other when it was supposed to be a happy ending after a day of struggle was HORRIBLE! It was one of the toughest things Lina has gone through in her life she describes. Would Sanna be OK? Was she even alive? What would I do without her!? Many thoughts went through my mind before I could get a ride down to the hospital. But the feeling of being united with the closest and best person you know in the world, seeing she was alive was also one of the strongest feelings I have ever experienced. My heart just filled with warmth and love.
After that we were really reminded how important we are to each other. But also, how hard it is to race against each other, not knowing how it goes for the other one. Especially on tough, long and quite dangerous races. Then you can feel like the loneliest human being in the world not having your sister by your side! That’s also way it’s so special to race as a team, you are never alone, and you know what happens to the other person. Then it’s also easier to celebrate if the race goes well, since it’s a double win! If a race has gone well for only one of us we’re of course happy, but a double win is ALWAYS better!
We have both had that day when one of us has been stronger and finished far ahead of the other one. Honestly, it’s hard to be the “weaker”. Then you start questioning yourself and always search after your own faults. Why weren’t I as strong as her? We had the same preparations and everything but still she was a lot faster!? We always compare, and OTHERS always compare us which can be a bit annoying. This is the hard part of being so similar. That someone always must come second. I think that is both positive and negative for us as elite athletes. We get more competitive and always strive to be better. But it’s at the same time mentally tough to be compared by another person in everything you do. And we cannot blame each other for it.
Back to be in teams, we have been racing in 4-person constellations too. In one adventure race in remote Xin Xiang province in China, we ran a bit further than our team mates, it was during the night and pitch dark. Suddenly we see two small lights heading towards us. We of course think it’s another racer who maybe has lost his or her team. But it moves so quick and zigzagging weird. Only a few meters away Sanna screams from the bottom of her toes and waving her arms like crazy. “IT’S A WOOOLF!!” We both try to increase our sizes to the double and we make the strangest sounds. The wolf must have been terrified by our performance because it fled in a hurry! It was great to have each other at that scary moment, if we would have been alone we would probably have been eaten by now.
Everything happened on that race! But After ten punctured tires our team mates unfortunately had to quit, but the two of us were lucky our bikes had four, still functioning wheels. We left the others and continued the adventure in the country side of Altay. Hours and hours on a bike results in very unpleasant blisters on your butt. It hurts. It’s an indescribable pain. It hurts soooo much. In addition, your stomach is pretty fucked up after high energy foods and lack of sleep. We had to take stops every now and then for handling the issues, and that hurts even more. It’s pretty good to have a close sister during those times. It must have been a funny scene to see two small girls with dirty clothes and packs, beside a high way in China during the night, one padding the others butt with paper soaked in energy drink (the only liquid we had left). A humbling experience with high and lows, pain and happiness. An adventure you wouldn’t want to experience with anyone else than your sister.
Our strength is really to be together in all conditions, and even on the individual times, we support and are happy for the other one. We have learned to be proud, encouraging and stand up for the other. Having a sister (or brother) is something everyone who has, should be happy for. Take nothing for granted, and really use the time you have together, because life isn’t endless. But Remember that it’s double the giggles and double the grins, and double the trouble if you’re blessed being twins!
Lina and Sanna