Before the race, I was very calm and confident that I would win. I was out there to rip the field apart and truly smash it. Luckily I got tougher competition.
At the prerace briefing, we were told that we got the current against us and we could expect a slow swim. It was the other way around. I started hard and controlled and could see a single soul move away from the field, which I reckoned was Mark Threlfall, one of the presenters in Global Triathlon Network and former Pro triathlete with a swimming background.
Then there was another guy edging me just so slightly, aka the perfect feet. After a few minutes I was on his feet and basically stayed there until I lost them roughly 100m from the finish line. His speed was good, but navigation skills could be improved as he drifted far left out in the fjord instead of the shortest way close to shore. I cannot complain as he helped me get out of the water on 51:03 and third out of the water and just were I wanted to be.
My strongest competitors were on my tail out of the water and Hans Christian edged me in transition. Together with Marius Elvedal we started the bike together. The swim did not cost much and I felt decent. Usually, I feel great on the bike in Norseman, but not this time. I rode with HC and Marius for a while, but when I had to go up to 310+ watt to keep up,
I dropped back and followed my plan. That was to ride as hard on the last hill as the first, and with 310 watts that would never happen. 280 watts was the plan. Then I got passed by a French man called Pierre who must have ridden incredibly hard as he rode up to the three of us (with me lagging behind). Not matching a move on the bike isn’t very champion like, but I had my game plan and found it wisest to follow it.
After passing Dyranut, the highest point so far my favourite part on the bike start, the 54 km stretch across Hardangervidda plateau. The sight was severely reduced due to thick fog, which made the need to focus much higher. There was at times a lot of traffic from Norseman fans and other cars which combined with the thick fog and high pace caused potential dangerous situations. My pace across the plateau was, as usual, good and together with Marius Elvedal, we gained time on HC.
Coming to Geilo, 90 km on the bike ride, the sun was shining and you start on the first of the four mountain passed from there. I felt still felt decent, but not the great legs I hoped I would have. Keeping 280 watts was still possible and the time up to the leader HC has steady at roughly 2.5 minutes. He was going strong. I rode efficient with my newly “superaero position” in the downhill when the pace passed 55km/h. Then I got good rest in the downhills and felt relatively fresh going up.
I gained some time but eventually lost more at the end. Coming into transition 3 minutes and 20 seconds behind. The weather was starting to get really hot. My positive experience with heat from Texas showed me that I can run fast in the heat if I start the run with a cool body. A conservative bike ride was the tactic for ensuring that. Since I did participate in the Norseman research project I actually had a temperature pill in my stomach that showed a core temperature of 37 degrees starting the run (while being as high as 39 riding uphill).
I started the run cool, but the core temperature quickly rose to 39 degrees. The temperature in the shade was around 25 degrees. My pace was good, and my team was marvellous and keeping me cool. Spraying me with a water mist and ice cubes in my trisuit and hands. It still felt hard, but running at 3:50min/km pace on the flat parts would have been impossible without it. I gained on HC fast and passed him at 15 km. On 20 km I had to ease a bit back on the pace to not start Zombiehill completely wasted.
That worked out perfect. The pace up zombie hill was steady and much better than last year. New for the year is that I used music during the run. “Harder, Faster, Scooter” with Scooter on repeat. That also worked great and I kept pulling away from HC. It was hard, truly hard, but I reached the start of the mountain in relatively decent shape, and 3,5 minutes in front of HC.
I completely failed during this final part last year, and have done specific workout to improve (intervals with running up stairs and taking the elevator down). It also worked out much better. Even if I stumbled a bit on the very steep parts my pace was good. I kept on going as fast as possible with my amazing support running, 2 x Norseman Champion Henrik Oftedal, used every tactic in his repertoire to make me keep on pushing. And that’s what I did. I could see the summit getting closer. I was so tired but so close.
We did not see anyone behind use, but new someone was. We pushed and we pushed and we pushed. With only 500m until the top, I was certain I would get there first. We kept on pushing. With just 100m left I could see that HC was only 30 meters behind me running in a blazing pace. It was a «do or die» moment. I went into a full sprint. It lasted less than 5 seconds before my legs shut down in complete muscular fatigue. HC passed me and it was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent it. I was barely able to walk forward and basically had to crawl the last stairs up. It was the first true sprint finish in the fight for the victory in Norseman, and it did not play out in my favour.
I got a lot of congratulations when entering the finish line, but I had a sensation that they felt sorry for me. A sensation that they thought I was disappointed. I was in the lead for nearly three hours. I had the victory in my hand until 100m to go. I could nearly smell the waffles in the cabin at the top when getting passed.
Honestly, I am not disappointed, I am stocked about the race. It was super exciting, and my objective performance was the strongest I have ever done in Norseman. Much better than last year. Third out of the water, third fastest bike split and fastest run. Even more importantly, I took a big leap in moving my boundary of pushing myself. Never before have I pushed myself to such an epic breakdown in muscular function in my legs. I truly gave it my all. Someone was just marginally better. That’s the raw beauty of triathlon racing. If I had only 30 seconds more lead that might have been all I needed to keep a sustainable pace to cross the finish line first. In a 10-hour race that is 0,08 percent(!)
I am very satisfied with the day and really happy that Hans Christian Tungesvik stepped in to fill up the empty space after Lars Christian Vold and Lars Petter Stormo as my “frienemies” in Norseman. It sparked a new light in my passion for using Norseman as my most important tool for moving my boundaries and keep evolving. There are a lot of improvements to be made, and without a doubt, I will come back stronger and faster next year 😉
Thanks to my supports Henrik Oftedal and my younger brother Emil for making me perform as good as possible on the day. And of course, my wife and rest of my rather big family who travels up each year to follow me. Thanks to my photographer Ola Morken for capturing these awesome shots. Thanks to coach Carson Christen and mindset coach Adelaide Goodeve. And thanks to everyone cheering for me. And not to forget my sponsors of course. You are all awesome. And the whole NXTRI crew. You are also awesome.