By Kyle Meyr
This morning’s tension was washed away with a mass jump off the bow of a ferry in the heart of Eidfjorden. The 203 men and 47 women swam the first leg of Norseman, four kilometres, back to the beaches lead by Lars Erik Fricke for the change from swimming to cycling. The athletes took to the mountains posthaste, climbing out of the valley and into the clouds to cross Hardangervidda in some of the most intense and challenging weather ever seen on Norseman. Thick gusty fog, biting rain and 5˚C summer weather could deter the most hardened survivor, but the athletes fought through it — unfortunately, not without casualties.
Slick and soaked roads threatened the sanctity of the downhill segments, winding through the forests and plains, keeping the bravest on the brakes and at bay. The long-term leader, Lars Christian Vold, fell victim to the hazardous roads, proving everyone is fallible and allowing for the next man to break away. In the change from cycling to running, Lars Petter Stormo lead the men with Kristin Lie leading the women.
The final stretch… One 42km run toward the peak of Guastatoppen (elev. 1883m) to cross the finish line and claim the title of ‘Finisher’. Conquering the flat section, the athletes quickly made their way to Zombie Hill, a massively steep slope creeping up to the beginning of the rugged trail run toward the peak. 160 competitors were permitted to continue to the top in the hunt for the black shirt while the rest committed to the path for the white shirt — the full run without the vertical climb.
In a heated battle for first place among the men, Lars Petter Stormo (10:22:37) claimed victory ahead of Henrik Oftedal (2nd) and Lars Christian Vold (3rd). Equally as intense of a matchup, Kari Flottorp Lingsom (12:24:52) squeaked out a win in front of Kristin Lie (2nd) and Viviana Hiis (3rd).
With half of the top-ten finishers travelling from abroad to take on the challenge, Norseman is a big and bold as ever. Notoriously moody Norwegian weather pushed the racers to their limits and beyond, proving once again that the Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is a force to be reckoned with!