Wow where do I start maybe with the race directors opening lines in the Briefing “this is not a race it’s an adventure”
After a few years racing the standard M dot, Outlaw branded long events in 2016 I fancied something different where I wasn’t going to be chasing a a fast time or a Age Group medal. The chase for a Norseman Black Tee fitted this change perfectly and after I got a slot in late 2015 that was the goal for 2016 sorted
We (me, Em and Steve Beevers (Big English)) arrived in Oslo on the Wednesday and the plan was to stay at my friends Richard Olsson (Big Swedes) house and then drive the course in reverse in his car to Edfjord where the race start is
The Norseman is a point to point race with no nutrition aid stations / toilets etc on the course so you have to be totally self sufficient with a support crew in a car who follow you for the duration of the race and supply you with what you need as you go.
The Swim start is also very different to most triathlons with it starting with a jump from the back of a car ferry at 4:45 am into the darkness of the freezing fjord. My swim in my Xterra vendetta and skull cap actually went really well and I came out in the 2nd pack only 4 mins off the front group containing the leaders. Not 1 swimmer went under the hour mark showing this is no easy swim which is marked with a fire in the distance and it’s just a case of head for the flame and yes the water is cold.
The bike WOW this would take what felt like most of the day . It’s just a hard course hilly, bumpy surfaces, twisty descents and then you throw in the weather wet very wet!! foggy and cold just 4’c . Luckily for me I was on the Paragon cycles Massi crossbow 2 which I have to say performed superbly in the conditions. I have to give special mention to my support crew here they kept my spirits up supplying me with what I wanted when I wanted. They even got me a water bottle full of coffee at one point to get me warm and I’m not even going to talk about what they had to do when I had to stop to go to toilet .
Into t2 I was a shivering mess and big swede yelled at me full monty so I stripped off for a full kit change in front of everyone. Unfortunately for me after freezing for the last 7.5 hours I wasn’t looking my best so everyone got a good laugh at my expense. Onto the run and once I got warm after a mile I started to feel good again and was cautious not to run too fast so was holding back. 5 miles past with ease with everything going smoothly until the urg came for another toilet stop. I shouted to my caring wife Em i need more socks or tissues she supplied and I dived into a bush again! I then got back into my stride but unfortunately due to my stop a few other athletes had caught me so it was now race time. 3 or 4 of us exchanging positions until the bottom of zombie hill and then this is when the Norseman really starts . I heard and read so many reports saying it’s impossible to run all of zombie hill and big swede had said the same. I thought sounds like a decent challenge so steady away 1 short stride after another and I ran/ slow jogged it all the way to the check point at 32.5km passing a few of the bike monsters than had flown past me earlier in the day and they was paying for the massive effort they had put in.
The last part of the race is a surreal feeling as at this point you know you are going to get the famous Black Tee shirt and it’s just a matter of completing the last few miles. But the last few miles are hard you have to run with a rucksack carrying certain items the race directors stipulated beforehand. And also with one of your support crew as a guide mine was Richard Big Swede and his experience in this race was great as he guided me up the mountain trail all the way to the top.
The finish line was such a relief as I was gone by this point and standing on the Norseman Black Flag at the top was an emotional experience. The last 12 hours had all been worth it for this moment standing on what felt like the top of the world!!!!.
Your support crew is key in this race and all 3 of mine was absolute super stars. Em just been my Em suffering in the cold all day for me with 2 crazy excited hyper men and then having to walk up and down a stupid mountain herself to support me. Big English talking rubbish to me running up zombie hill keeping my spirits high and dressing me on the bike when he was getting soaked himself. Big Swede a 2 time black finisher of this race and my support runner for the last 10km of the mountain guiding me all the way to the finish and motivating me in his kind mannered Swedish way. (he was more revved up than me I think)
What did I learn about myself at the Norseman ? That I can suffer in tough conditions and push the bodies boundaries and that I still love racing. I would say maybe not the fittest person does well here but someone with the ability to suffer and endure horrible conditions and fight. Better athletes than me finished lower down in the field but maybe I was able to handle the harsh conditions better. Do I want to do it again? For a few days after it was a No but now I’m starting to think maybe I could possibly in the future push for a top 10 or even higher in this race? Finishing 18th overall, 1st GB athlete and getting my Black Tee is right up their as one of my proudest achievements I’d put it along side my AG Gold medal and sub 9
Big thanks as always to Paragon cycles, Britcon, xterra Wetsuits, Metres to Miles and Stenno for the lend of his Zipps. until next time keep training and get racing Steve