Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is considered to be one of if not the toughest one there is. Unlike others triathlons there’s a lottery for most of the 280 spots. 2013 I was fortunate to be one of the 17.8 % who “won” a spot and I managed to get a black t-shirt.
For the 2014 Norseman there were almost 1000 foreign men applying for the 100 spots so knowing that the chance of getting a spot two years in a row was less than 2.5% I opened the email. Or actually I didn’t, Maria did
Dear Richard Welcome to Isklar Norseman – simply the ultimate triathlon on planet Earth We are happy to confirm that we have reserved a place for you in Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 2014, which takes place Saturday August 2nd 2014.
Oh yes a second pregnancy!! I found out last year that this is as close as I’ll ever get to a pregnancy with mood changes, understanding partner and little alcohol. Like all other parents the second time is a bit more relaxed, maybe even too much… Last year I followed my training plan 100% and had zero days of injury. This year I’ve been out with plantar fasciitis and have missed a hand full of workouts.
To try to relax and not focus too much too early we went to stay in “Stabburet” in Øystese on Wednesday before going to Eidfjord the day after. Eidfjord is a magical place with mountains going straight into fjord. With registration and checking in sorted it was all about enjoying the scenery.
On Friday it’s the traditional swim in the morning with rest of the participants to see what temperature the fjord offers. Not too cold, 14-15 degrees close to land and 17 further out!
Prerace meeting in the afternoon with some information about where the tarmac is bad or simply just replaced with gravel. Watched the mini triathlon and tried to get to bed early. The alarm clock played the Rocky theme at 2 Am, time to prepare for the race. Muesli and white bread for breakfast.
Swim: My crew Sam and Stefan and me checked into T1 where they test brakes and lights. Time to get onto the ferry out to the starting line. The boat ride is magical and the tension is immense. I chitchat with a couple of friends before going into my own bubble focusing. Looking around you see 260 other athletes knowing that at least a hundred of them has to be behind at the top of Zombie Hill for me to finish on Mt Gaustatoppen. They look fit…
4.45 AM and time for the 3-4 m jump off the ferry. A short swim to the kayaks that are line up on the starting line. 5 AM and the horn of the boat goes off. Being an average swimmer I try to find some drafting feet to get a smoother journey. I choose a line about 100 m from shore and after a while we are a couple of people swimming together. Unfortunately they’re not faster than me so no time saved. Ban myself for not giving that little extra at the start to find faster feet. The rest of the swim is very controlled and I get to Calle the race director and T1 in 1:19:45. All in all the Spa was refreshing and I was number 123 out of the water
Bike: Time to get out of the wetsuit and into the bike uniform. Had a Fresubin, Maxim and a gel before running out to the bike leg. T1 in 3:55. The first 10k is pretty flat and it is beautiful scenery to get the body temperature up in. I consider myself a better rider than last year but the combination of 87 kg Swede, 5 big hills and TT bike is uncertain. I expected to lose a couple of places on my TT bike uphill but hopefully make more time downhill. My strategy is to stay with my game plan no matter what the others do. Bang, hitting the first hill and 5k into the hill we go into a 2k tunnel where no passing is aloud due to safety. So far, so good. As we go out of the tunnel my legs are just so non responsive. Right before Vøringfoss a BTC team mate comes past me and my confidence hits the bottom (Afterwards I found out that he had beaten his swim personal best with almost 20 minutes so my riding wasn’t that bad). On the small flat section I get a warning for drafting. Had a Fresubin and the time up to Dyranut is 2:09. Felt like 50 people had passed me on the way up but now it’s the fast section to Geilo.
Put on a jacket; eat a gel and a Fresubin and hit the road. I think I ride fast the next part but seems like everyone else is too cause I only pass a few. Am I going slow anyhow? Mental game and bad thoughts until I get a Fresubin and half a banana in Haugastøl after 70k together with some really good cheering. I don’t know what’s in that banana but heading down to Geilo my body finally wakes up. Turning right in Geilo after 3:45 on the bike. On the way up to Kikkut lots of people are cheering. Half way up I meet Christian and Ingvild, just like last year Ingvild runs along for a while chatting. I have a fast decent and start to overtake some riders. I get passed by some RR riders uphill but make up that time downhill. Good nutrition plan and legs makes Dagali and the next climb easy. At this point you see a lot of athletes that struggles. A lot of them seem to be from far away I think to myself and maybe they’ve underestimated the course.
The last climb Imingfjell is steeper and longer than the rest. I do a steady climb and get passed by a few but I pass more. I get extra energy from being almost 90 kg on TT bike going up a mountain overtaking people. It’s also time for the magical coffee/coke mixture. My fantastic crew play “JUST IDAG ÄR JAG STARK” (“today I am strong”) (The anthem of the world’s most beautiful football club Hammarby) at every stop and life is good going up the winding roads. The forecast says heavy rain, headwind and fog over the Imingplateau so vest and lights are mandatory. The forecast is 100% correct.
“Finally some proper norseman weather that I love and the others hate” “ Just idag är jag stark” ”Just a normal day in Bergen” ” I’ve been out training in worse weather than this” “It’s only water and water is healthy” “I love the last downhill, go go go” are mantras as I cross the plateau.
The Imingfjell downhill is notorious for its bad tarmac and sharp turns. 1986 Bon Jovi released “Slippery when wet” and that’s a good description of the conditions. I went all in and hoped that the infamous combination of TT bike, carbonwheels, heavy rider and rain wasn’t that bad. Actually it wasn’t, at least not before the last sharp bend before Tessungdalen. From far away it looked like two small bends but as I get closer I see that the second turn is a 180… I brake hard but there is no way I can make the turn. I skid the bike and as I reach the gravel I get thrown sideways over a small ditch and land on moss. I have a few scratches and a slight shoulder pain but both I and my bike are good to go… (When I went back the day after to pick up my lens I saw that there were rocks and metal poles within a meter of where I landed)
The last 25 k in Tessungdalen to T2 was by far the fastest section I’ve ever done. I guess the magical coffee/coke mixture combined with full adrenaline rush made me pass by at least ten competitors that last stretch.
Run: Got into T2 in 8:52 with a bike time of 7:29 (117th on the bike leg). One last Fresubin. The full monty changing to OTCF trisuit. Due to a plantar fasciitis I choose my Hoka Stinson instead of Newton Distance trying to save my right foot. 3:15 in T2 and off we go for the run in 123th place. The plan is to run in low zone 2. The ride gets out of my legs within minutes and my body feels good. There’s a good runner ahead of me and it’s hard not trying to draft. I have drinks and a little something( chips, candy, ham, chewing gum) almost every kilometer. I run at 5:30 min/km until 16-17 k when I feel the urge to pee. I try to overcome because I know that once me legs know that stopping/walking is an option I’m into walk and run. 2k later I have to go and after that it’s walk and run to the foot of the mountain. I pass the 25.5k mark in 125th place after 2:27.
I get an ice cold Sprite and a kiss from my girlfriend My body is still feeling ok as we start Zombie Hill. Hr around 120 all hill so I am definitely just enjoying the walk together with my crew. The mood is high knowing that there’s no way I can miss out on black t-shirt finish! I do a couple of short “runs” for the photographers. Halfway up the hill I recognize Kjell-Arne who actually finished one place ahead of me last year.
Race Director Calls welcome us to the 32.5 k checkpoint and fortunately the mountain is open. 129th position and black t-shirt finish. The prerace plan is to do some running up to the next checkpoint at 37.5 k but that’s so not going to happen. It’s not that I’m so tired I just don’t find the motivation. We walk by two and one is running by us until the 2nd checkpoint. I change to me Newton runners because of the high sole on the Hoka’s . Backpack checked and time for the last 4752 m up to Mt Gaustatoppen. My foot gets painful right away so changing shoes wasn’t such a good idea. The rocky path gets steeper and the wind picks up for every meter. Halfway up the mountain the fog disappears for a minute and the top gets visible before it disappears again.
Then suddenly the final stairs appear and I finish in 14:54:04. The satisfaction of completing Norseman is so good and I’d love to get a 3rd opportunity 2015 [Symbol]
TACK: I wish to thank my crew Sam and Stefan and the cheering crew Celia, Wenche and my lovely girlfriend Maria for making this weekend a memory for life. Christen, Eivind and the rest of Bergen Triathlon Club for all the workouts. Steve Clark / OTCF for the training plan and the rest of you GBs for including me in your clan. My colleague Asle for making my foot better so that I could compete. Last but not least Thanks everybody for all the inspiring messages before/during and after the race [Symbol]