Norseman returned to the global stage again this Saturday, 6th August, with a race that saw new course records, surprise performances and a reminder that the elements will always test even the strongest athletes.
The traditional 5 am jump from the back of a ferry saw the competitors plunge into 13-15 degree C water with a slight breeze, making it feel even cooler. The 3.8km swim proved no problem for established Norseman champions, though. In the men’s race, a close battle between several returning athletes showed how experience, tactics and course knowledge could offer a real advantage. Reigning champion Jon Breivold extended his lead after T2 through to win the race in style – setting a new men’s course record of 09:23:28.
“I had a really, really good day,” he said at the finish. “Everything went as planned. We had a tailwind which helped, but on the start of the bike, it was really cold and wet, so that it could have been a little bit faster. The run was nice; though we had a little bit of headwind, it didn’t matter. I really wanted to take the record today, so I just went full gas!”
In the women’s race, it was a case of passion over tactics, however, as Scottish Norseman newcomer Eilidh Prise commanded an early lead and didn’t let it go until she had secured an emotional finish at the mountain top – taking the win in 11:47:49 with tears running down her face as she cried: “I won!” in a beautifully humble show of raw emotion.
26-year-old Prise is a two-time Celtman champion and believes in: “adventures, not training”, a mantra that served her well through a Norseman year that included a freezing, wet bike leg and a mountain climb with sharp, cold winds. Mounting the summit with her father as her support crew, she paved the way for more young women to attempt the seemingly impossible. “During the first part of the bike, I was questioning whether I could even do this, let alone win it,” she said. “It was all about just getting to the finish line. I can’t believe it.”
This year’s race showed that with the return of International athletes to Norseman, the conditions may not have gotten any easier, but the racing remains wide open. Extreme? Yes. Tough? You’d expect nothing else from the XTRI World Championship race. But with training, strength, determination and passion, the rewards make it more than worth it.
Of the 239 starters, 219 beat the harsh conditions and made it to the finish line.
First to the top was:
1 Eilidh PRISE (GBR)
2 Kaja Bergwitz-Larsen (NOR)
3 Hannah SAITCH (GBR)
1 Jon Sæverås Breivold (NOR)
2 Kristian Grue (NOR)
3 Allan Hovda (NOR)