Priceless Prise. - Norseman

Priceless Prise.

There is no athlete that comes to Norseman without already having a long journey of training and hard work behind them. When the media team sat down with 26-year-old Scottish athlete Eilidh Prise ahead of the 2022 race though, we knew we had found someone special. Instead of following a training plan she goes on ‘adventures’… Instead of a coach driving her, it’s her pure love of the mountains that spurs her on. Instead of putting on a steely race face, she draws energy from cheering and laughing along with her supporters. Of course on race day we saw just how magical this approach could be – but for now, it was our opportunity to chat how it felt to be a double-record-holder at Celtman – and just how excited she was about facing the mighty mountains here in Norway.

Published: 25.Aug.2022

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Scroll down for the full episode notes with accompanying film and images.


You’ll learn these four things in today’s episode:

  • How Eilidh started her journey in triathlon
  • How this unique father/daughter duo created an XTRI winner in record time
  • Why adventures are good
  • What Norway really looks like


Helen Webster:
Okay, welcome to the Norseman Media Room, Eilidh. You are two times winner of the CELTMAN! XTRI tour race, and you are here at Norseman having qualified at CELTMAN!. So, welcome. How is it to be here?

Eilidh:
Ah, it’s amazing to be here. Thank you so much for having me. Putting a bit of pressure on me there. It’s incredible to be here in Norway. What an amazing place. Unbelievable scenery. Just, yeah, grateful and looking forward to Saturday. I think.

You can watch the full interview with Eilidh here.

Helen:
Well, we’ll come on to Norseman, but we need to talk about your CELTMAN! successes, because CELTMAN!, being from the UK myself, I’ve not done the race myself, but I’ve heard about how tough it is. So how did you come to compete in CELTMAN!?

Eilidh:
So CELTMAN! is a race which means quite a lot to our family. My sister Siobhan did it and won it in, I think, 2015. And then my parents bought a house on the west coast of Scotland in a place called Gairloch, which is on the cycle route. And during COVID… Well, my dad got in to do the race in 2020, it was meant to be. And then, obviously, we all know what happened in 2020, so the race got postponed to 2021. And at that point I had decided, “Oh, I’d quite like to do something a bit different.” I bought a secondhand bike in 2020, and I started joining my dad on some of his cycles. He was beating me. I found it quite hard to keep up at first. And then one thing led to another, and seven weeks before the race in 2021, a few slots came available, and I was desperate to give it a crack.

Eilidh:
I love mountain running, just being in the hills. And I had done training, I guess, although I don’t call it training, just adventuring, being outside. And so yeah, I got a spot, and it went not so bad, and then decided, “Oh, I have to come.” Forgot about the pain, how much it hurt. Signed up again to do it in 2022. And then yeah, now I’m here. So it’s been a very quick journey. Last year was my first triathlon. The CELTMAN! was my first ever triathlon. Yeah, and now we’re here. So start of all, it’s been a bit crazy, but I just love these types of events, especially CELTMAN! It’s just got an unbelievable feel. It’s just such a family event, and it means a lot to our family, as well. So I love that side of Scotland, as well. It’s just incredible. The scenery is amazing.

Helen:
So tell us a bit more about the CELTMAN! Course, because I think to have such an amazing family love that part of the world. And you hold the record now for the women’s race for the high and the low finish. So tell us a bit about those two different races.

Eilidh:
Yeah, so the course is epic. That word is used a lot this time. Everybody uses it for everything, but I think we can really say that about CELTMAN!. It starts with a 3.4K swim, jellyfish infested water. So in 2021, there was no jellyfish, and I think I was just lured into a full sense of security. But oh my goodness, the jellyfish were back with vengeance this year. It was unbelievable. You just can’t describe it unless you’ve seen it. I had never seen anything like that, and if I hadn’t been doing the race, I’d have been like, “Get me out of here right now.”

Eilidh:
Then the cycle goes on amazing West Coast Road, a main road for Scotland, so the road surface isn’t too bad. Nothing compared to the roads here in Norway, but yeah, it’s not so bad. Got a few hills, and it’s a 200K bike course. But the weather is what really makes CELTMAN! CELTMAN!, and the wind on the bike this year was just absolutely brutal. And traditionally there’s the last 40K of the bike is a headwind. So it’s tough bike, but you could maybe look at the elevation and think, “Ah, it’s not so bad.” And then you try and do it when it’s gale force winds and you’re falling off your bike, it’s a bit more challenging.

Eilidh:
And then the run is what makes CELTMAN! what it is. So the high course, which is just iconic, is a great 17-kilometer trail to start with, where they bring you on, you think, “Oh, it’s just a land over track trails. It’s straightforward.” And then all of a sudden you have to go veer left on this path that’s not even a path. It’s some random bog, and it’s for three kilometers. And you’re going up this random bog, and you’re thinking, “Is this race not hard enough anyway?” So if anybody’s thinking about doing CELTMAN!, the first part of the run, it’s not flat and it is not on land over tracks. And it gets me every time I do it. Why [inaudible 00:04:59], why did you put this in the race? It’s hard enough as it is. Just to make it a bit harder, I guess.

Eilidh:
And then Beinn Eighe, which is one of my favorite mountains in Scotland, is an incredible beast of a mountain. Three kilometers. You climb 1,000 meters. It’s not running; it’s scrambling up the side of a hill. And then you’ve got quite technical terrain at the top of the hill. And then you come to Morrison’s Gully, which if anybody’s seen pictures of CELTMAN! or videos of CELTMAN! you’ll know what I’m talking about. Basically a large sand dune with big boulder rocks that you have to get down after doing the swim, the cycle, and half of the run already. And then it opens up to the loch, and you’ve got amazing Triple Buttress rock face, and then eight K road finish, which is what it is. You have to get to the finish. But yeah, Beinn Eighe, just totally epic.

Eilidh:
And then if the weather’s too bad and you can’t do Beinn Eighe, it’s not the easy course. They always say it’s not the easy course, it’s the low course. And yes, this year I can tell you it was not the easy course. It was the low course, which takes you through the Glen, and you go up towards Beinn Eighe, and then you go through past the mountain called Liathach and another mountain called Beinn Alligan and just pretty technical terrain, but just immense. Just it’s the middle of nowhere, wild wilderness. It’s incredible. An amazing race.

Helen:
I can see you love it. The passion for that race just shines out of you, which is wonderful. But I want to ask you about something you said earlier, which is that you don’t train, you adventure. And there’s a quote on your Instagram page, which I’ll read to you if you don’t mind, but you say, “To be outside is to be free.” And I love that. Tell me a little bit more about that ethos.

Eilidh:
Yeah. I just think that if you’re going to do these events, you really have to love it. You will have to want to be outside when it’s freezing and it’s windy and it’s cold, and you have to enjoy the challenge, because otherwise the training would just… I don’t do these zone one, zone two, zone three. I go out and I look at a hill and I go, “I want to run up that hill.” And that’s what gives me life. It gives me energy. I think putting data behind things or numbers behind things, I don’t have a power meter on my bike. Rarely look at the pace that I run at. It just makes everything so much more enjoyable. Sometimes I run faster up the hill. Sometimes I don’t. It depends how I feel. I think that I’m way more in tune with my body than I used to be because of this mentality.

Everything’s so much more enjoyable. If I don’t want to do something at the end of the day, then I’ll have a beer instead. I’ve got a job. I’ve got no coach, but I love being outside, and I love being in the hills. And when you strip everything back, and you’re just there on your own with incredible scenery, and you’re not thinking about distance, time, elevation… I like elevation; that’s a number, so I’ll let that one go. But that’s when you really feel alive, and I think is when you feel the most wholesome. Every other problem in your life is just so insignificant when you are in these amazing places with your heart thumping.

Oh, you’re working hard. Your heart’s thumping. You’re out of breath. There we go. You’re working hard. And I know that if I tried to do these kind of things a different way, it wouldn’t be for me. So maybe I’m not fulfilling my potential with that attitude, but it’s an attitude that makes me happy and makes me want to come back for the next thing. Because the most important thing is finishing the adventure and being excited for the next one.

Helen:
With a smile on your face.

Eilidh:
Absolutely.

Helen:
So, were you smiling when you did your recce of the Norseman course here in Eidfjord? Gaustatoppen, I know you’ve been taking a look at it. So what’s your feeling?

Eilidh:
Aaah, it’s a monster. What am I doing here?

Helen:
It’s a beautiful monster.

Eilidh:
Of course, of course. I mean the scenery, it’s unbelievable. It’s amazing. It’s like Scotland on steroids. It’s going to be tough. It’s not to be underestimated. It’s definitely a lot to take in. But you know what? I’m going to break it down into small chunks. Stay in the moment. Be present. Such a privilege to be here, to be able to do this race. Well, it’s not a race. It’s survival.

Helen:
It’s adventure.

Eilidh:
It’s an adventure. It’s multiple adventures all together, to be honest. So yeah, Saturday will be survival. It’s going to be amazing, but it’s definitely not something to be underestimated.

Helen:
So are there any bits of the course that you’re especially looking forward to, either because they look amazing or because they’re a challenge?

Eilidh:
I guess the easy one to say is Zombie Hill, but there’s a lot to do before you get that to that point. Many people, when they think of Norseman, they probably only think of Zombie Hill. But the swim… Hopefully the swim will take care of itself. I can swim. I’m sure that one will be okay. Although now I’ve said that, probably one that will go wrong. But the bike is pretty hilly; it’s either up or down. Pretty exposed. So I’m sure it’ll be very windy at places. But I guess Zombie Hill.

Yeah. The race starts at Zombie Hill. Race! Yeah, it’s not a race. But hopefully by that point I’ll be… Well, I was going to say hopefully I’ll have something in my legs. I mean, let’s be honest. Will I? I think at that point I’ll be really just focusing on one step in front of the other and having to dig deep, remembering all the things that I’ve done to that point to get me there. And I’m looking forward to it. Am I looking forward to it? I’m looking forward to Gaustatoppen, the waffle at the top.

Eilidh meets Team BOB on Zombie Hill.

Helen:
Ah, the waffles at the top. See, I’ve been boring people with this, but every year I’ve been to Norseman, I’ve always been too busy working on the media crew at top to enjoy a waffle. And I got so close one year, because someone was in the queue to get me one, and then we had to go. So this year-

Eilidh:
Oh, you have to get one.

Helen:
I will join you for a waffle at the top.

Eilidh:
Well, if you haven’t got one by the time I get up there, then. Well, if I get up there. That’s the aim. Hopefully I will get there. And a beer as well, after that. That would be very good.

Helen:
Always. I love your attitude. It’s so refreshing. And if you don’t mind me asking, Norseman are really kind of keen at the moment to try and encourage more women, and especially more young women, to come and compete in these races. So what is your advice for anyone that’s sitting at home thinking, “Could I be like that? Could I do that?”

Eilidh:
I think it’s, “Start small>” For me, I bought a second hand bike two years ago off Gumtree, and I joined my dad for cycles, 30 kilometers to start with. And then everything just got a little bit bigger and a little bit bigger. And I think what I would say is don’t judge yourself by what anybody else is doing. Because you can make an adventure however big or small you want to be. I have trails beside where I work, and sometimes I’ll go for a half an hour run and find a new trail. And I’m like “Yeah, that was an adventure.” Yeah, because I did something new, and it was exhilarating. So don’t let anybody else tell you what an adventure should be or what you should be doing or what you shouldn’t do be doing. If you think that you can do it, then you go, girl. You can do it. And just believe.

I think I’m really lucky. I’ve got an incredibly supportive family who never bat an eyelid when I say, “Yeah, I’m going to go and do that.” Most of the time, in fact pretty much all of the time, on my own. I’m single, to shout out there. No, I’m joking. I’m not using this… But so pretty much everything I do on my own. And you know what? I love it. There’s something about when you do something on your own. It’s almost more… I want to say amazing. You get a different type of feel when you do it with other people. Yeah, I love having a chat and being social, as well. But when you do something on your own, it gives you that extra boost. “Wow, I did that on my own. I didn’t need anybody else to tell me to do that. I got up and I went for it.”

I also have many audible books, which I love listening to. Normally random stories, nothing to do with anything factual. But yeah, if you’re sitting at home and thinking, “Can I do this?” Well yeah, you can, because you just thought you could, so go for it. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Helen:
I love that. That’s brilliant. And of course the next step for you is your job is bringing you to live in Norway. So we’re going to be seeing a lot more of you over here.

Eilidh:
Yeah. So I’m moving to Stavanger on Monday. First day at my new job is on Monday. I’m not sure how I’ll be walking on Monday, but yeah. I’m moving to Stavanger for six months, and then we’ll see what happens after that. But it’s an amazing country. I can’t wait to get out and explore. I’m just super excited for new routes and new places, because the scenery is just, ah, wow.

Helen:
Well, it’s been really wonderful to talk to you and really refreshing, and thank you for sharing all your stories and advice. And we’re going to look forward to sharing a waffle and a beer with you at the top of Gaustatoppen on Saturday, hopefully. Good luck with your race.

Eilidh:
Yeah. Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

Norseman winner and 2022 XTRI World Champion Eilidh Prise (GBR)

You can follow Eilidh here:

——-

This production would not have been possible without massive help from Foto.no

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