Norseman Xtreme Triathlon has gone back to basic and so have I. I am going back to where it all started. In 2008 I got fascinated by triathlon and especially the longest distances. I looked with awe at the Ironman races, and the ones who were crazy enough to compete in them. One race was the toughest and craziest of them all, and it was called Norseman Xtreme Triathlon. You already swim, bike and run the most insane distances, but there is no other competition where you swim in an ice cold fjord, bike over five mountain passes and finish the run up a 1850 metre high mountain with possibilities of snow on the top. That was a task for super humans and nothing for “Joe the Plumber” or in my case Allan the Process Technician.
A light of hope and optimism was lit when a colleague of mine, who had been support at Norseman twice, said; Sure you can do the Norseman, you are better trained then my friend who is a two-time Black T-shirt finisher. It was no way I could know if he was telling the truth or just being encouraging, but I took the bait. I was lucky enough to get a slot in the 2009 edition of the Norseman, and everything that was left was the training, learning to swim, getting the right equipment, getting a support crew, making a race strategy and get my race nutrition dialled in.
A slightly pessimistic realist would say I basically had nothing. In some definition I was well trained, but not at all for an endurance racing. I was a recreational kick boxer and which meant that I was trained for three times two minutes maximum effort in the ring, and believe me, that was hard enough! The only advantage I had, which luckily is the most important single factor for success in endurance racing, was my motivation. It was sky high, and I was really motivated to make the best out of it and cross the finish line with my arms raised. At least I hoped I would finish in that way and not finish crying in a ditch alongside the road. I must admit I doubted myself at times as well as some of the people around me. I remember my dad said the day before the race that he already had booked a table for tomorrow at the Pizza restaurant at Geilo, which is the place around half way on the bike course, because that was how far I was going to make it. I am sure he somehow said it in the best intentions, but it just came out the wrong way.
To make a long story short(er) I will sum up my race in a few sentences. I had a decent swim, a very hard last part of the bike course and a phenomenal run, at least according to my standards. I finished in 14 hours and 18 seconds, which gave me 44th place of 230 competitors. As I crossed the finish line I was in the worst physical condition I have ever been in, but emotional I was in paradise. The feeling of overcoming challenges I thought was impossible combined with the endorphin rush lifted me to a motional state I did not know even existed. It sounds like a cliché, and maybe it is, but Norseman changed me. It changed my view of what I and other people can accomplish if we put our mind and heart in to it. I am not saying that long distance triathlon is anything more than it actually is, which is a very long swim, bike and run competition, but if you give it a proper go, you may find out something very important about yourself. To feel that you are drowning because of other competitors swim over you, and feel the slowly increasing aching in the thighs, back and neck as you pedal you way through the 120 km mark and knowing you have a solid distance left on you bike. To feel your legs are shutting down on the run, to feel you stomach saying a loud and clear NO, to feel that every muscle fibre in the body send the very same signal to you brain and that is STOP RIGHT NOW. Then you have the feeling of overcoming the fatigue, pain and doubt, and finish of as a winner in the fight of your life. That’s the feeling that changes us and makes us come back for more.
After Norseman 2009 I never looked back and continued to push my limits. In 2011 I broke the sub 9 hour barrier and in 2012 I won my AG in IM NYC and IM Haugesund 70.3. I qualified for both the 70.3 World Championship and Ironman World Championship. On my very first try on Ironman Hawaii I took the Norwegian record on the course and finished in 80th place overall. This year my goal is a podium finish at Norseman Xtreme Triathlon. I cannot guarantee success, but I can guarantee that I will give myself one hell of a battle.
I wish the best of luck to the men and women training for the Norseman 2013. I will catch up with all of you in a ferry in Eidfjord on August 3rd.