Morten Poulson

Interviewed by Melissa Edeburn


Have you ever wondered why Morten only rarely joins us for breakfast after SLR and hurries away after track? Apparently it's not qualms about the company. Rather than chew the fat at Whitlows or sample spirits at Dremos, Morten jumps on his bike to log 100 miles of cycling each week in preparation for ironman triathlons. Our self-deprecating Danish friend has no fear of a hard slog. I think he rather relishes painfests. For his unbreakable spirit in the face of excruciating pain in last year's Philly marathon (see gut-wrenching description below) the man deserves a Tyler Hamilton award!

Q: What is your favorite running route?

A: In Copenhagen: From my apartment, around Copenhagen Freeport, Copenhagen Harbor, the Citadel, past the U.S. Embassy, then around five Reflecting Pool-look-a-likes, and back home. 10 miles. This is where I began running longer distances.


In London: From the residence hall in Southwark near Tower Bridge, along the Thames to Westminster, then along St. James Park and Green Park, link up with Hyde Park, counterclockwise around Hyde Park, and back. 12 miles. I ran it every night for more than a year. During the runs I made sense of all the lectures that I had attended during the day. Then I fractured my right foot and started swimming (in the Students Union pool, not the Thames).

Q: What is your favorite SLR route?

A: Glover Archibald - the Zoo - Rock Creek - Memorial Bridge. It's varied and entertaining. Also, the first part reminds me of orienteering which I miss a lot.

Q: What SLR trail should Max and other course planners never have charted and exposed unsuspecting runners to?

A: Arlington Triangle: Exhaust from regional jets maneuvering on the tarmac at National Airport next to the trail, odors from the Arlington water treatment facility at Four-Mile Run, rabid dogs in parts of Shirlington, and ear-shattering noise from I-66...only consolation is the opportunity to visit the beautiful Arlington County rose garden just before I-66 on W&OD. Make sure you run with SLR regular David, who can tell you about all the roses.

Q: During one month you did an Ironman triathlon and two marathons. What made you so ambitious or (alternatively) crazy (!)?

A: 2002 I first did the Great Floridian Ironman, then the next weekend I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, followed by the New York City Marathon the weekend after...Why? I wanted to do the Ironman, but my best friend from Denmark had planned to come over and do the Marine Corps and I wanted to join him. And then I got into New York unexpectedly--something about the race needing more Danes in the name of diversity. It wasn't my best marathon, and it certainly wasn't as memorable as the 2001 NYC Marathon which I will remember for the rest of my life, but New York is New York; you just can't argue with that, can you?

Q: How and why did you start doing triathlons?

A: I was swimming, biking, and running, and then a couple of friends pointed out that it perhaps would be a good idea to do triathlons. Thanks, Mads, John and Sharon Coogan, and Dave G.

Q: When is your next tri and what kind of training will you do each week in preparation?

A: I am doing a half Ironman in June in upstate New York. I'll swim three times a week with the Arlington Ageless Masters Swim team (2x2600 yards; 1x4000 yards), run approximately 30 miles per week (SLR and track and one 13-miler during the week), and try to squeeze in a 100-120 miles bike ride every (or every other) week. I don't have enough time to train in any optimal fashion, but I do what I can.

Q: What's your most memorable tri race and most memorable running race?

A: Tri:

To the Point Half Ironman 2002: I was surrounded by fellow SLR regulars John and Sharon, Rob Morton and Lei, and my training buddy Dave G. After the race as I was getting ready to put my bike back into Dave's minivan I heard my name over the loudspeakers. I thought I had forgotten something so I ran back to the race director and he announced that I had placed 3rd in Clydesdale division (there were at least four Clydesdales competing). A huge surprise. Sharon and Dave also placed in their age groups.

Running race:

Copenhagen Marathon 2000: 14 months earlier I had fractured my right foot rather badly. It's always a cause for concern when the ER doctor exclaims "oh [expletive]--I better call the orthopedic surgeon," and the orthopedic surgeon then starts smiling when he sees the foot. I was told that I would never be able to run again, but thanks to the immense resilience that the body can demonstrate when it feels like it, I began jogging almost immediately after getting the cast off after 8 weeks. After jogging 2-3 miles every night for a few months, I began running again. I then ran the fastest marathon I have ever run. I still don't remember the last five miles or the first 25 minutes in the finish area after I crossed the finish line.

Q: What's your race from hell?

A: Philadelphia Marathon 2003. The company was great with several SLR regulars running, including Tom Stone, Steve Easley, and Chris Kupczyk, and other DCRRC associates in town as well--Janet and Kara. SLR "occasionals" Ulrikke, Stanley, and Lourdes were also running. This was four weeks after an Ironman, so I was a little tired. The weather was amazing for Philly in November--sunshine and 65 degrees. I really enjoyed all the neighborhoods, but unfortunately at mile 19 I blew my right calf and had to walk back to the finish line in agonizing pain--it felt like somebody had sliced up the calf muscle and detonated a hand grenade inside. Stanley kindly helped me and we had an enjoyable conversation about matters big and small as we walked along the river toward the Museum of Art and the finish line. I finished 591 out of 592 in my age group--I think that is a mistake, though, since I didn't see anybody behind me, so it should be 592/592.


Q: After a race, which do you prefer: (a) beer and ice cream, (b) a hot shower, (c) blister popping, (d) complaining about the weather/course, (e) applying vasoline or other ointments to chafed areas.

A: None of the above. After Ironman races I walk a mile around the finish area before I have 60 minutes massage. I get another 60 minutes massage the following morning. It's the best investment in my physical well-being that I'll ever make. It shortens the recovery from several weeks to a few days. At the first Great Floridian Ironman, after I had the massage, I devoured six burgers and two pizzas and drank a gallon of water. On the way back to the motel I stopped at a supermarket for a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk and 24 Advil. (More recently I have been cutting back on the post-race snacks.)

Q: What was your worst job?

A: I was an 18 year old high school graduate working in London in one of the biggest department stores. They assigned me to the lingerie department. I have never since folded and wrapped so many pieces of garment on a daily basis. Nor have I since given so much advice about what would look good or not on a customer. After two weeks I was transferred to the food halls where I was in charge of stocking vegetables, potatoes in particular. Oh well.

Q: Tell us the funniest aspect of/experience in your current job?

A: Funny in an ironic kind of way: My job is to speak with executives from Fortune 500 and Global 500 companies with revenues and assets larger than my home country's gross domestic product.

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It's a War and Peace for the 21st century. It's also about the same length, if not slightly longer.

Q: How long have you lived in the United States and why did you decide to relocate here?

A: A little over three years. The research firm I work for was the only employer interested in a guy with three advanced social science degrees.

Q: What do you miss most about Denmark?

A: Dinner prepared by my mother, served on the beach, waiting for me as I return from windsurfing in the Baltic Sea.

Q: What's your favorite activity when you are back in Copenhagen?

A: Tease my youngest sister who is now in college. It never gets old. And it's so easy.

Q:You are a fan of pro cycling, and we know your favorite team is the Danish CSC team, which has had the most wins of any pro team this year. Do you think the team will do well in the TdF? Who will win this year's tour? Will Bobby Julich, Carlos Sastre, or any of the other CSC guys land a top 10 spot in the GC?

A: CSC will kick #$%& in TdF :-)

Q: In the individual time trial up Alpe d'Huez, will Lance win or will former teammate Roberto Heras or someone else beat him?

A: I wish all the riders all the best--I can't wait to see how they surprise us all this year.

Q: Do you think Max ought to invite SLR folks to his house to watch this most-anticipated stage of the 2004 Tour on his big-screen TV?

A: I wouldn't mind watching a stage or two as long as everybody cheers for the Danish riders...

Q: If you were a car, which car would you be?

A: Mercedes-Benz G 400 CDI


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