On Monday we feature the World's 10 Interesting & Unusual Triathlons:
Our goal is to travel the world with you in search of the most unusual, fun, and interesting races from Peoria to Peking.
Today we travel to Norway for what has to be one of the hardest, coldest, steepest, longest and most beautiful triathlons on the world---the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon.
The swim is crazy early and crazy cold in the frigid waters of the Hardangerfjord.
The bike is up and over a mountain pass, and the run is just plain up an extreme mountain to the finish.
But before we take you to this unique race, please visit our newest partner: Ken Glah's Endurance Sports Travel.
Our feature World's 10 most Interesting & Unusual races---Triathlon is presented by Endurance Sports Travel who not only offer a great and affordable travel experience for Ironman races around the world, but they still also have slots to this sold out race---such as Ironman Austria.
Editor's note: Emily Finanger won the 2008 womens race. She spoke with the race organizers after her win and described her day.
You finished Norseman in 13:01:10, over 2 and a half hour ahead of the female runner up. Tell us about your race.
I have never done a race that requires you to be up so early. My
husband and I stayed up at the top of the first big climb out of
Eidfjord so we had to wake up at 0200. We were eating breakfast at the
host hotel as people were leaving the bar for the night. That was
probably the most interesting mix of people in a hotel lobby…a group of
people whose lifestyle entails staying out until 3 am and then another
group of crazy triathletes who get up and are eating breakfast at the
same time. We met our support crews and gave them our bikes, transition
gear and all of the fluids and energy replacement we would need for the
day and my husband, Lars, and I got on the boat.
A lot of anxiety was built up as we rode the ferry out to the starting spot. I definitely was not the first person to jump off the boat. I have never swum in water that is so cold before. It was definitely a shock to the system but as soon as we started swimming I didn’t notice the cold until I had to try to use my hands and feet to climb out over the rocks at the bonfire and at the end of the swim. Putting on gloves, armwarmers and cycling gear was also a challenge with cold hands.
I was not the first female out of the water because there was a woman who just did the swim who came out first overall. I did not know at that time that she was only doing the swim so I thought I was in second place until I got to Dyranut where my support crew told me I was first. I stopped there to put on a full jacket and full gloves. In hindsight, I probably should have put on some leg warmers to keep my knees from freezing on the descents. At the end of the bike I still knew I was in the lead but the run is probably my weakest of the three disciplines and I know that a lot of time can be made up in a marathon- especially one where the second half is up a mountain!!
I told myself to run the first 25k and then I could walk up the mountain. Going into the race I assumed that is what everyone did, ran the flat and then walked up the mountain. But, the problem was that as I started the uphill section there was a man who ran right past me as I started to walk. That changed my impression about everyone just walking so then I felt I had to run also. I was not able to run the whole way but I made little goals for myself like “just run to that next big rock and then you can walk to that tree up there and then run to the next guard rail..etc” That worked out pretty well. I had heard while I was running on the flat section that we would not be able to finish at the top of Gaustotoppen so that was a little disappointing but I did not know what the alternative would be.
I saw Lars for the first time as I was running up and he was coming down from the turnaround. I caught up to Lars as we turned onto the road to the ski lodge off of the main mountain road. We walked and ran to the finish together which I thought was the perfect way to start our honeymoon in Norway. It was very special to me to be able to finish such a challenging race, both mentally and physically, together with my husband.
* Click HERE to explore and travel to the rest of the World's 10 most Interesting & Unusual races.