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Photos: Agur Concellon/ Kyle Meyr / Kai-Otto Melau / NXTRI
Two hundred fifty of the world’s bravest triathletes swarmed the docks of Eidfjord, Norway at 3:00 a.m. local time on Saturday, fresh off a short night’s rest that was no doubt burdened with anticipation. The iconic race features a wild adventure across 226km of Norway’s most demanding landscapes.
The morning’s tension was washed away with a mass jump off the bow of a ferry in the heart of Eidfjorden. The 203 men and 47 women swam the first leg of Norseman (4km) back to the beaches and were led by Lars Erik Fricke. The athletes climbed out of the valley and into the clouds to cross Hardangervidda in some of the most intense and challenging weather ever seen in Norseman. Thick, gusty fog, biting rain and 5 degrees C (41 degrees F) summer weather could deter the most hardened survivor, but the athletes fought through it—unfortunately, some athletes were forced to drop out.
Slick and soaked roads added to the difficulty of the downhill segments, winding through the forests and plains, keeping the bravest on the brakes. The long-term leader, Lars Christian Vold, fell victim to the hazardous roads, proving everyone is fallible and allowing for the next man to break away. In the change from cycling to running, Lars Petter Stormo led the men with Kristin Lie leading the women.
With the difficult bike course behind them, athletes took on the 42km run course toward the peak of Guastatoppen—sitting at an elevation of 1883m.
After conquering the flat section, the athletes quickly made their way to Zombie Hill, a massively steep slope creeping up to the beginning of the rugged trail run toward the peak. One hundred sixty competitors were permitted to continue to the top in the hunt for the coveted black finishers’ shirt, while the rest committed to the path for the white shirt—the full run without the vertical climb.
In a heated battle for first place among the men, Lars Petter Stormo (10:22:37) claimed victory ahead of Henrik Oftedal in second and Lars Christian Vold in third. Equally as intense of a matchup, Kari Flottorp Lingsom (12:04:52) squeaked out a win in front of Kristin Lie in second and Viviana Hiis in third.