The world of trail running mourns the untimely death of Swedish athlete Emilia Brangefalt, who, at the age of 21, took her own life.

Who was Emilia Brangefalt?

Swedish trail runner Emilia Brangefalt, a rising star in the world of long-distance athletics, passed away at the age of 21, leaving a void in the running community. Brangefalt’s notable accomplishments include clinching a bronze medal at the 2022 Trail World Championships 40km race in Chiang Mai and securing fifth place in a world championship race in Innsbruck this year.

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The promising athlete faced a setback in her career when diagnosed with an exceptionally high heart rate, compelling her to take an extended break from the sport. In a candid Instagram post shared on November 4, Brangefalt opened up about the physical and mental challenges she encountered during this trying period.

Brangefalt expressed, “Just taking a walk is painful right now,” detailing her struggle to lead a normal life despite multiple medical examinations returning positive results. She pondered whether her intensive race schedule, including the Transvulcania 48k and WMTRC 45k with less than a month in between, had contributed to her health issues.

On November 13, the Swedish Athletics Federation confirmed the tragic news of Brangefalt’s suicide, disclosing that she had been facing severe physical and mental distress in her final months. The statement included remarks from Kasja Bergqvist, the captain of the SAF, who struggled to find words to convey the deep tragedy of losing such a young and promising athlete.

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Brangefalt’s running association, Vasteras FK, also expressed their grief, highlighting the somber reality of the toll that high-performance sports can take on individuals.