Norseman celebrates ten years

Arguably the world’s toughest tri hosts two races for 10th birthday

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Organisers of the 10th anniversary of the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon in Eidfjord, Norway, celebrated with two races on 4-5 August, allowing twice as many athletes a chance to test themselves against the epic course that begins in a fjord and finishes on a mountaintop.

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In all, 450 athletes from 37 countries tackled the point-to-point course over the two days, with good weather conditions allowing them to savour the spectacular landscape of the Eidfjord, the Hardangervidda plateau and the Gaustatoppen mountain. The swim on both days offered a frisky temperature of 13.5C and beautiful, still waters.

Saturday’s race was devoted to age-group athletes, and the winners were Julia Nikolopoulos, who set a women’s course record in 13:00:40, and Arnaud Epp in 11:37:05.

In the elite race on Sunday, previous course record holder Björn Andersson of Sweden, still battling illness from 2011, pulled out of the course during the bike ride. That left the door open for Henrik Oftedal, who broke Andersson’s old record (set in 2005 when he hit a snowstorm at Gaustatoppen but still finished at 10:30) with a finish time of 10:23:24. The women’s race went to Annett Finger, who set a new top mark for the women in 12:17:34. At the mountaintop, Oftedal gave credit to his support crew, saying, “You can’t win this race alone!”

On Saturday, athletes were able to finish the marathon in magnificent weather at Gaustatoppen, whereas Sunday offered some showers during the last part of the bike ride and clouds atop the rocky finish at Gaustatoppen, 1870 meters above sea level. “I am flabbergasted!” multiple Ironman World Championship age-group winner Lisbeth Olsen Kenyon exclaimed at the finish.

Norseman is the world’s the most northern triathlon, at the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska. The race takes competitors through some of the most beautiful parts of Norway, starting in a fjord and finishing at the top of Gaustatoppen mountain for a total ascent of 5,000 meters.

Competitors are required to complete the race with a support crew. The prize to the winner is the same as to the last to finish at the top of the mountain: a fabulous black T-shirt. The first 160 athletes to reach the mountaintop are awarded with a treasured black T-shirt, whilst the remainder receive white T-shirts and finish at Gaustablikk hotel, 1000 meters above sea level.

Norseman is owned and organized by Hardangervidda Triatlon Klubb, whose 20 members are the main crew for the event. They are mainly either active triathletes or locals from the Eidfjord and Rjukan community. The race was born 10 years ago when 21 athletes jumped off a car ferry and started one of the world’s great endurance challenges in one of the world’s most breathtaking locations.

For more results and race information, visit the website at www.nxtri.com.

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Photographer: NXTRI/Jørgen Melau