But as the sun cut through the clouds at just before 5am on Saturday morning, prospective Norsemen leapt from the back of a ferry relieved at the short respite in the weather. A loud solid blast from the ferry horn and an echo around the valley saw the start of another memorable race.
Five athletes emerged together from the choppy water having worked well as a pack had put several minutes into the rest of the field.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Lydia Waldmüller (AUT) was in the lead group out of the water and pushed hard on the cycle into the hills to consolidate her position through to almost the end of the run, but the exceptional endurance of cross country ski racer Inger Liv Bjerkreim Nilsen (NOR) resulted in Lydia dropping to second place.
A young Lars Christian Vold (NOR) had an strong start to the swim and ride, but was caught after a couple of hours into the ride by Markus Stierli (SUI) who maintained his lead through to the end – winning by 15 minutes over Dirk Wijnalda (NED)
A ferocious headwind in addition to intermittent torrential rain and thick fog throughout the cycle made a tough 180k harder and it was plain to see that a lot of athletes had to dig deep simply to survive through to T2. In addition to this the race directors were notified of lighting having struck the spire of the Gaustoppen during the previous night. The unfortunate outcome of this lighting strike was to disable the internal cable car which is normally used to transport finished athletes down from the top of the final mountain, so the competitors were brief that they now had an additional 5k to walk down the mountain once they had finished the race.
As with previous years, the weather can plan a critical role in the outcome of the race. But as one competitor commented as they heard the news that they had an extra 5k to ascent at the end of the race “I guess, that’s why its called Extreme!”
Stierli who about 6 weeks ago won the inaugural Swissman Xtreme Triatlon commented after the race “Isklar Norseman was for me the perfect race. Wet, cold and lots of wind”.
1. Markus Stierli (SUI) 11:25:16
2. Dirk Wijnalda (NED) 11:41:33
3. Allan Hovda (NOR) 11:49:30
4. Lars Christian Vold (NOR) 11:50:07
5. Lasse Rypdal (NOR) 11:55:09
1. Inger Liv Bjerkreim Nilsen (NOR) 12:43:14
2. Lydia Waldmüller (AUT) 12:55:20
3. Line Foss (NOR) 13:01:34
4. Malin Lundvik (SWE) 13:54:59
5. Rebekka Trukenmüller (GER) 13:59:04
Complete results can be found here