Hilda Kirkhoff

Running became a way to become my body’s best friend!

Hilda Kirkhoff; a lovely colleague, master baker, and trail runner!

2024 is the year I turn 30, and it feels fantastic. I come from Båstad in southern Sweden but moved to Gothenburg 3.5 years ago. I am a West Coast girl all the away, and love living close to the sea. My favorite place to run is home in Båstad along the coast and on Hallandsåsen. I have been working for ESS Group for four years, and today, I am a Product Manager at Home of ESS.

In 2019, I was contacted to apply for ‘Hela Sverige Bakar’ (The Great Swedish Bake Off) by the production team as they had received tips about me. Initially, I was flattered, but my first reaction was no, I don’t want this. I didn’t have the courage to be judged in front of a million viewers. However, the pandemic broke out significantly around this time, and everything felt uncertain. So I submitted an application, and then everything started rolling. The whole experience was a great journey, primarily for building self-confidence, believing in myself, and performing at the same time. But, as they say, after numerous recordings and heats, it became clear that I won ‘Hela Sverige bakar’ in 2020.

Q&A with Hilda!

What made you win in 2020?

I am an incredible competitor and have the strength to focus entirely and go full throttle. I have been very active as a competitive equestrian in show jumping throughout my upbringing. I made good use of that during ‘Hela Sverige bakar,’ both in terms of keeping my nerves in check and focusing on the right things. I always think holistically in everything I do, from presentation to story and delivery. My baked goods usually always have a connection to a memory or a family recipe, and the presentation should be appealing and match what is being served. That was my strength throughout the competition.

When you’re not baking on morning news or managing your Instagram, you work full-time at Home of Ess. How do you find time for your training?

I would say I make time to train because I know how good it makes me feel. Training is my way of relaxing and doing something unrelated to work. I try to stay active in my daily life; I walk an hour to and from work every day. Then we have a fantastic gym at Jacy’z in Gårda, Jacy’z Sport Club. Here, I usually spend my lunch breaks, both in the classes led by Michele and on the treadmill. In addition, I attend group classes on weekends and run around Delsjön in Gothenburg.

When did you start running?

I started running more consistently in 2023. That year was a time when I chose to focus on becoming one with my body. Throughout my upbringing, I had an unhealthy perception of body ideals, and I was tired of the way I belittled myself. Instead, I wanted to become strong both physically and mentally. Running became a way to be my body’s best friend without focusing on weight. I have always loved being outdoors, so trail running became more of an experience than a workout. I did some trail running when I studied at the Restaurant and Hotel School in Grythyttan. It was magical to run in the enchanting forests of Bergslagen. Last year was truly a huge personal development for me, in the way I respect my body and all the challenges I set for myself.

Would you call yourself a runner?

Well, maybe more of a happy recreational runner 😉 But when do you really become a runner? Regardless, it doesn’t matter that much to me; it makes me happy and proud – that’s the most important thing!

You ran the Fýri Trail 18 km in its inaugural year in 2023. How was your experience?

Absolutely amazing! We swam in waterfalls the day before the race, setting the tone for the whole weekend. The race itself was beyond anything I had experienced before. To witness the Norwegian mountains in late summer was stunning; it started snowing halfway up the mountain, and the sun peeked out at the end. It was truly a powerful experience that I look forward to doing again soon.

Can you give your best tips on how to have a great experience at Fýri Trail?

5 Tips from Hilda:
• As the happy recreational runner I am, the most important thing is to enjoy it, let go of performance pressure, and savor the fantastic experience.

• It’s important to watch where you step, but don’t forget to lift your gaze now and then and take in the surroundings.

• Book a dinner afterward – nice to celebrate with all the participants after the race.

• Equipment is important, and if you’re not an experienced runner, it’s good to find out what can help you on the trail. Good headphones, a vest, a cap, good shoes, and proper layering of clothes.

• I hadn’t run 18km before I went to Fýri Trail, but it went really well. Trail running is not about running fast for me but being able to endure. So a tip is to train to be on the trail for a longer time with a steady breath; then you’ll have a magical experience. The first hill of 1.8 km is long and tough, so take it easy at the beginning.

What does a training week look like for you?

I’m ramping up my running now when it’s brighter outside and the evenings are a bit longer. Before this, I do strength and cardio workouts at the gym. I train 5-6 days a week, combining both strengths, running, and group sessions.

Now that you know what to expect in Hemsedal, will you prepare differently for Fýri Trail 2024?

I will approach it with the mindset that it’s not about presentation but joy and the fantastic experience. I was a bit cautious last year and didn’t really know the course; this year, I have more insight into tougher and less challenging sections during the race. So, I will probably challenge myself a bit more and dare to push a little harder where I know it’s possible to increase the pace.

How many races do you have planned for 2024?

This year, I will run Göteborgsvarvet, Vårruset in Göteborg, Tjejmilen Lindvallen, Idre Fjällmaraton, and, of course, Fýri Trail. Possibly some smaller races because they are fun in between.

It’s popular to bake your own bars to take on the run; would you like to give us your best recipe for a bar that provides good energy?

I haven’t actually tried baking my own bars, but I will definitely give it a try. I’ll get back to you if I come up with the optimal Fýri Trail bar.

Finally, do you have a “dream race” that you absolutely want to do in the future?

I would like to run in Engelberg, Switzerland!

You can be inspired by Hilda on instagram. Follow her here