After the finish – what to expect?

Some advice from our medical crew

By Thomas Dahlslett, MD, PhD canidate, Jonny Hisdal, PhD, Associated Professor and Jørgen Melau, MI, CRNA, Safety Director Norseman


Norseman is among the hardest endurance races in the world, and your safety is one of our greatest concerns.

The finish at Gaustatoppen (Mt. Gausta) is a lifetime challenge for the athletes. It is also a great challenge for the medical crew. Medical supplies at the mountaintop are limited. Intravenous fluids are very limited, and are reserved only for life-threatening conditions.

When finishing, your muscles have been continuously strained for more than 10-15 hours pushing you through 224 km of swimming, cycling and running with more than 5000 meters of total ascent.

Since the ferry jump at 5 AM, your heart has been whipped with adrenaline to pump more than 14 000 litres of blood. Every blood cell in your body has been passing through your lungs and muscles more than 3000 times, delivering exceptional amounts oxygen. Your liver has struggled to break down lactic acid, process waste products and deliver fresh nutrients to the muscles. Your kidneys have worked hard to balance the body’s fluid and salt. The intestines have done its best to process and absorb nutrients, minerals and fluid necessary to keep your fine machinery in balance when pushing through the cold water, gusty headwind and foggy trails. Your lungs have cycled 72 000 litres of air to oxygenate the blood cells, loosing large amounts of fluid from vapour doing so. Your skin has struggled to maintain optimal body temperature, needing to sacrifice fluid as sweat. Your brain has been working hard to convince your organs to keep going despite suffering from low access to nutrients and ever growing amounts of waste products. To coordinate this effort, your glands producing numerous of stress hormones are squeezed to the last drops of adrenaline, cortisol and more.

When crossing the finish line, all changes. Within a few seconds, the body starts to rest. Glands stop producing adrenaline and may cause your blood pressure to drop causing cold clammy skin and nausea. The exhausted muscles are only given a few litres of blood every minute to remove huge amounts waste products, which may lead to severe muscle cramps or stiffness.  An already exhausted intestine gets stimulated to move faster and absorb more nutrients to rebuild energy storage, for some this may lead to diarrhoea or even vomiting.  The respiratory muscles of the chest are exhausted and may become sore.

Luckily, a healthy body is robust, and he symptoms are most likely harmless and temporary. The severity and length of symptoms vary from competitor to competitor. If you have any concern, you are encouraged to contact our medical team for assessment and advice.  In most cases we would advice swift transport down from the mountain observed by your support, or medical crew in severe cases. More advanced medical treatment, with intravenous fluids, are reserved for life-threatening conditions needing urgent transportation to the nearest hospital. Also, staying at Gaustatoppen to the next day is NOT an option for ANY competitor or support.

We wish you good luck and are looking forward to seeing you at Gaustatoppen!




July 31, 2014