When recapping my final race I discussed how, through the Eiger Extremely Path E101, I fell over for the primary time in a race. We’ll I believe it was a floodgate second. In my subsequent race I should have fallen about 50 occasions, no exaggeration, I spent loads of time on my bottom in Norway…
The Stranda Fjord Path Race in Norway had been on the playing cards for a very long time. Initially I signed as much as the race again in 2019 and hoped to do the inaugural 100km run in 2020. However everyone knows what occurred that yr and the identical trigger meant 2021 additionally wasn’t attainable for us. Oscar, the Race Director, was extremely supportive in deferring entries till we might journey to Norway and race. So in 2022, a barely smaller than deliberate group of us headed out to lastly run within the fjells of Norway.
Within the days main as much as the weekend it grew to become more and more clear that the climate was going to be lower than best for the race. Clouds and rain meant a climate warning and amendments to the 100km route have been activated for security. At this level I used to be form of pleased with it. We will’t management or change the climate, and I used to be anticipating the path to be very tough. So eradicating a few of the most tough sections can be in my favour I believed. A small profit to lacking out on the legendary panoramic views from Slogen.
Nick and Natalia woke at 1am to escort me right down to the city of Stranda for the beginning. An pointless and type gesture from them each given they would want to get up in just a few hours to arrange for his or her 48km race. After amassing my GPS tracker I sat contained in the constructing (the place we collected our race numbers) with the opposite runners, ready till it was virtually 02:00 and time to run. We first lined up below the finishers arch earlier than being led across the nook to the true begin line. Right here I fell for the primary time, stepping in a gap within the concrete pavement, earlier than the race had even begun!
Part 1: Begin –Duklidalen
The course begins in town sq. in Stranda. From Stranda you’ll first be operating just a few km on a asphalt street till you hit the trailhead on Framhus. From Framhus you may be operating on a pleasant path as much as Dregetua (693) after which off path over to Vardnakken (878masl) and additional to Blåhornsvatnet on path. From Blåhornsvatnet you may be operating on a pleasant path right down to Vasset. From Vasset you may be operating just a few km on a gravel street till you hit the trailhead for the path in direction of Lievarden (799masl) and Duklidalen (820masl). In Duklidalen you’ll discover an support station.Excerpt from the Race Guide
Moments later and we have been off, operating the tarmac street swap backs for the primary few kms. I used to be pleasantly stunned at this level that we caught collectively largely as one large group of runners and that I hadn’t been left behind utterly.
The roads quickly gave approach to the forest and we started operating in single file within the darkness. And it was very darkish, one thing about it felt darker than the standard nights I’ve skilled. Although the paths have been clearly lit by the handfuls of head torches bobbing about.
Largely it was silent now aside from the sloshing sounds as we ran by means of puddles and muddy trails. I felt that almost all runners have been, like me, attempting to keep away from getting their toes moist. I accepted that it will be moist however didn’t plan on being waterlogged for the entire race so was completely satisfied to skip across the trails after I might. I ought to have identified higher that weeks of rain on this space would have meant the bottom situations can be far worse than I imagined! It was quickly clear that the paths would persistently be this manner at the most effective of occasions.
By way of the forests two issues stood out in my reminiscence. Virtually getting misplaced – the spacing between runners was now rising and some of us overlooked the runners forward of us and this part was not course marked. A fast cease and examine of the GPS and we have been again on observe earlier than the harm was finished! And a degree the place there was a pleasant bunch of supporters with colored lights and music who cheered us by means of one small part of the observe. It created a great ambiance and led to a couple of us to begin speaking. While speaking to a couple climbers who have been doing the race it made me realise that a lot of the runners round me have been head to toe in waterproofs (or carrying mountaineering trousers!) and there have been only a few like me in shorts and tshirts with no waterproof on. Though it was drizzling with rain, I knew although that I’d overheat on the early climbs so was ready till the climbs have been uncovered earlier than I’d layer up.
After a little bit part on some wider gravel roads, the forests returned and have become a little bit steeper and really, very muddy. From time to time a sequence of picket walkways assisted in avoiding a lot of the mud. The forest quickly gave means and the mountain opened up into an unlimited uncovered climb. The one tracks we adopted, nonetheless attempting to skip across the mud and bogs. To date so good though it was now very windy and chilly (the drizzle of fantastic rain had turn into extra fixed now) so I took a second to layer up with my waterproof jacket.
We continued climbing earlier than reaching the primary of the smaller summits (which should have been Dregetua) marked by a stone trig pillar. We then started descending and operating once more. I set off and was having fun with seeing the pinnacle torches of different runners means off within the distance. Right here although it was changing into more and more tough to keep away from the mud because the slim tracks left little room to manoeuvre as the bottom was so uneven. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than I used to be soaked to my shins and coated in mud. At one level my left shoe got here off, caught and wedged within the mud utterly. I needed to bend down and pull with each arms to get out again out. I took the second to tighten each my laces! We then climbed a little bit extra in comparable lumpy situations which was fairly tiring on the terrain and within the chilly of night time. The warmth from the primary little bit of climbing meant my t shirt was soaked with sweat so I couldn’t actually keep away from getting chilly even with the jacket on!
From the following trig level (Vardnakken) we started descending. Down we went by means of a protracted sequence of lumpy bogs. The undulating terrain meant it was fairly tough to get a great rhythm when operating. One foot would descend then subsequent foot would ascend a lump. I felt like I used to be jarring up and down and operating very inefficiently. There have been rocks hidden within the darkness too.
As soon as extra my shoe obtained sucked off (the precise one this time) and after retrieving it I tightened my laces much more. They have been so tight now that they weren’t notably comfy. However fortunately they by no means got here off once more!!
The descend was constant till we reached Blåhornsvatnet. From right here the descent grew to become steeper and considerably more durable. We we happening muddy and rocky swap backs, generally off path, generally by means of streams and at all times having to look and see which means was the obvious. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than I used to be on my arse and coated in mud. Inside a couple of minutes I had fallen a number of occasions. The mud was so thick that there was no approach to grip it correctly. While my Inov8 Trailrocs aren’t best for muddy runs, I additionally couldn’t think about many trainers being a lot use right here! I wasn’t alone. I might hear the gasps and groans of different runners within the night time too and will see runners in entrance of me falling over.
I used to be already considering to myself that this was the least enjoyable I’ve ever had in a descent. It was relentless and torturous and I simply needed to settle for it. Settle for that it will be uncomfortable and that I’d maintain falling. So I simply saved transferring, letting gravity pull me down, hoping it will be finished faster that means. There have been just a few factors the place I simply ploughed straight by means of bogs above my knees and needed to drag myself out with my poles. There can be no warning as the bottom simply sucked you in. Largely although it was nearly shin excessive. I bear in mind considering to myself that this was suppose to be the simplest part of the race! The alarm bells have been ringing. I then took an almighty slip, skidding a little bit bit on my heels earlier than twisting and happening on my left facet. I do know I swore loudly (not for the primary time) and I heard a sound from my pole which I landed on high of. It gave the impression of a crack however I hoped it was simply the sound of it hitting the the bottom and my weight on high. As soon as once more I picked myself up and carried on, fortunately the paths lastly got here to an finish and we had a piece of gravel observe to run on. It felt fairly lengthy however quickly sufficient we have been climbing once more (which I imagine meant we have been now related to the place the 48km runners would begin). The gravel was a welcome change and I took the chance to take away my jacket once more. I used to be additionally stunned how rapidly my toes and sneakers appeared to dry out. It was round 04:30, the morning was breaking and the solar beginning to rise, giving a glimpse of the superb views of Stranda and the Fjord beneath us.
Inevitably the gravel street grew to become a forest observe and the climb grew to become more durable because the moist floor and dirt returned. Over the course of some 100m of climbing the tracks grew to become off/observe because the mountain opened as much as us. The tracks returned and introduced with them unimaginable views off to our left of the Fjord and over to Liabygda. I ended for a couple of minutes to layer up once more because the uncovered mountain meant extra rain and the temperature had dropped because the wind picked up. It did give me a chance to soak up the views throughout me within the early morning mist.
From the climb we descended once more, the tracks weren’t too steep however they have been very moist and we ran on waterlogged tracks and bogs from the numerous streams. Up forward a tent might be seen alone within the wild. The primary support station at Duklidalen and the primary alternative to eat one thing!
I checked my watch and timings and I had coated the 20km or so in just about the time I estimated I’d. Not a foul get thinking about the state of the paths!
Part 2: Duklidalen – Fjørstad
From Duklidalen you may be operating on and off path up the Mønet. There are sections right here that´s as much as 45 levels steep, you’ll have to use your arms at occasions on this part. Mønet is a cliff with a a number of lots of meter drop on the fjord facet, watch out and keep on the path. Additional on you may be on and off path in scree as much as Fremste Blåhornet (1478masl). From Blåhornet you may be operating off path alongside the ridge excessive above the fjord over Rjupskartind and in direction of Åknesnibba (1296masl). This part is very technical because the ridge is slim with drops on boths sides. We advocate you to be catious right here. There are components the place mild scrambling is concerned on this part. Earlier than Åknesnibba the course will take a tough proper flip down into the valley with a steep technical descent down, that is additionally a great place to be xtra catious. Then alongside Rjupeskarvatnet, and additional out Fjørstaddalen previous Heimfjørstadsætra and right down to Fjørstad on a pleasant path. On Fjørstad you’ll discover an support station.Excerpt from the Race Guide
Instantly from the help station we started making our approach to the ‘wall’. I imagine it was the cliff referred to as Monet. However to me it was a wall on the sting of the world. I couldn’t see the place we have been heading. Making my means in direction of it I used to be texting Natalia forward of her race and slipped and fell once more. This one was my fault for not paying consideration. The bottom was soaking moist and chilly the place I fell.
As I reached the ‘wall’ it grew to become clear we have been climbing up it. I might see runners scaling it and have become apprehensive. It was steep. I held my poles in a single hand and used the opposite to tug myself up with every step. I dared not look down however accepted that it wasn’t as unhealthy because it initially regarded and I used to be on the high perhaps quarter-hour later. Up high the grassy cliff turned to rock virtually immediately. The climb nevertheless continued.
Looming in entrance of me was a large of a mountain. Gray in each means. Gray rocks. Gray clouds. Simply gray. I assumed this was the primary change within the route and that is the place we wouldn’t climb. I used to be unsuitable although. Individuals forward of me saved going additional up and disappearing into the gray clouds. I placed on my gloves because it grew to become colder the upper I went. I then put away my poles and started climbing on all fours. It was faster that means. I briefly began speaking to Kristofer who’d finished the 48km final yr, who defined this was simply the climb to Fremste Blåhornet (I imagine he referred to as it ‘Entrance Bluehorn’) and that the eliminated a part of the course was additional up nonetheless. He powered on handed me. Ultimately I made it to the summit and the timing mat and circled. Now we have been on the diversion route which meant going again the best way we got here then throughout and down a valley.. There have been just a few runners forward of me however they quickly disappeared into the gap as I transfer so slowly over technical descents like this. I saved watching and making psychological notes of the place they have been and went so I didn’t get misplaced. I felt alone now, for the primary time within the race. I quickly couldn’t see runners forward nor behind me.
After finishing the rocky downhill the diversion route took us left and away from the following climb. There was no path although and it was an off observe descent from right here to the following support station Fjorstad. I used to be starting to see the sample now and off observe terrain meant crossing a number of streams, slipping masses within the mud and bouncing up and down with the lumpy floor. From time to time I’d get a glimpse of a single runner forward and one other behind me. This was one other down hill I didn’t get pleasure from. I used to be initially glad when the route entered a forest space however that happiness quickly gave approach to frustration because the mud returned with a vengeance. As soon as once more I used to be continuously on my bum. I began saying “fuck you” loudly. Like a chant. Each time I stubbed my toe on a rock “fuck you”. Slipped on my arse “fuck you”. Stepped in a bathroom or stream “fuck you”. It grew to become my mantra as I continued tumbling down.
Lastly the forest let me free and I ran the small down hill to the help station, slipping and falling for the supporters and volunteers to get pleasure from! All of us smiled and laughed understanding I wasn’t the primary and wouldn’t be the final to supply the leisure.
The help station was a great one. Kristofer was there and becoming spare garments. On this race you might have a drop bag at every station. I’d opted only for one on the 63km level. I regretted it barely seeing Kristofer grow to be dry garments as I used to be soaked by means of. It was heat contained in the constructing so I packed the waterproof away once more and noshed down on loads of watermelon, crisps and cinnamon buns.
Part 3: Fjørstad – Habostadsætra
From Fjørstad you may be operating the asphalt street down the Strandavalley for 4km after which into Moldskreddalen on a gravel street for 3km to Mesætra. By Mesætra you’ll hit the trailhead to Storhornet and cross the river on a bridge, and begin the climb as much as Storhornet (1309masl) on and off path. Elements of this path is technical. After summiting Storhornet you’ll flip round and comply with the course again down for 1km, after which flip proper and hit the path right down to Habostadsætra. Ths downhill part may be very steep however the path may be very good. On Habostadsætra you’ll discover an support station.Excerpt from the Race Guide
Earlier than lengthy I used to be again out operating with Kristofer on a protracted street part. It felt good to run. I’ve by no means wished to run alongside a major street with automobiles driving handed me (very safely and courteously I ought to add!) a lot in my life. It felt prefer it was the primary time I might really run. It was additionally a surprisingly therapeutic few kms understanding I might see this street from our unimaginable mountain lodging.
From the street we have been as soon as extra on a gravel observe uphill earlier than, yep, you guessed it, we have been again within the moist and slippery forest mountaineering off observe up a steep climb. Kristofer began getting additional and additional away as I huffed my means up. As soon as out of sight I needed to focus extra on the lookout for the pink path markers painted on timber or rocks. This climb felt prefer it took a lot longer than it most likely did. After the forests it was wild and rugged terrain. Up and down lumps while nonetheless usually getting greater. There was an individual out right here on their lonesome. It took me some time to understand he was a photographer. It took some time longer for me to get to him, he waited patiently and snapped me as I mentioned hey and made some unhealthy jokes. I requested if it was Ian, and it was. A world reknown adventurer and photographer. I’d learn his weblog from the 2021 occasion and we had a quick chat evaluating the contrasting climate situations. He kindly shared some recommendation on the climb and temperatures awaiting me and wished me properly on the journey.
From right here issues obtained a little bit more durable. The climb went off for an out and again part to the following summit of Storhornet. It went ‘up’ fairly steeply and the path was extra distinguished and clear for a short time because the the mud and wild terrain tagged out and the went rocky tracks tagged again in. There have been many runners coming again and I’d allow them to glide effortlessly handed me. I had no concept how far I needed to run to get again so far. However up I went. There was one other photographer filming runners coming down and he needed to movie me slowly strolling up. I made it clear I wouldn’t be operating down like all of them have been!
Just like the Blåhornet summit, this one grew to become very rocky in a short time. It was now identical to earlier than as I used to be stumbling from rock to rock heading into the mist within the course shadows have been coming from. Right here I had one second that ‘threw’ my thoughts a little bit off. A girl was coming down and began talking to me, I assumed in Norwegian, and I defined I solely spoke English. She then instructed me that it was very chilly additional on and requested if I’ve any extra garments to placed on. I used to be caught off guard. While her intentions have been little doubt stuffed with kindness and assist of different runners, I didn’t fairly perceive the remark. There was necessary equipment and I used to be clearly within the race with a full bag on my again I additionally had on my mackintosh and gloves on, so I don’t assume I regarded under-prepared in comparison with anybody else. I assume she was involved as a result of I used to be simply in shorts. However I reassured her I used to be fantastic and carried on. Quickly Kristofer ran again handed me and someday later I looped across the summit and too was heading again down. On this part many runners overtook me as I as soon as once more descended so slowly.
Ultimately I accomplished the out and again and was then happening a steep hill in one other moist and slippery forest part. I used to be all over. Sliding and slipping in all places happening the switchbacks. A girl behind was asking if I used to be okay as I used to be swearing continuously. Then it was her flip as she slipped and did a pencil roll down one bend/flip. I can’t fairly describe how fantastically she rolled and ended up down forward of me and again on her toes laughing at her ‘shortcut’. She then sped off descending quickly with ease. She referred to as again to examine on me just a few minutes later after I set free a slightly loud expletive laden cry. I used to be okay. I’d fallen once more (Fuck you!). This one was worse although. While I used to be fantastic, within the course of I’d snapped my fucking pole once more (I snapped one within the VDA final yr). I used to be actually pissed off. It snapped proper on the deal with the place it slides in and the locking button is. It was fucked and ineffective now and I’d solely coated round 40km of the race. In a temper I carried on into the help station that wasn’t distant.
A number of runners checked out my pole and the volunteer was a famous person, operating round on the lookout for issues to repair it (his plan was to tape a small rod to the deal with to strengthen it). I knew it was a misplaced trigger although however I appreciated their efforts. I crammed my sorrow with meat soup (which was frikken ace) and Coke. The help stations have been fairly nice for selection in my eyes! I checked my timings and, as soon as once more, felt I used to be fairly spot on to plan because it was about 30 minutes earlier than the primary lower off. And so, having skilled operating with one pole earlier than, I knew I might overcome it, I packed it away and carried on with the one pole.
Part 4: Habostadsætra – Myrsætra
From Habostadsætra you may be operating on the marked DNT mountaineering path trough a lush birch forrest to Nysetvatnet with an important view in direction of Brekketind and the Brekketind glacier after which additional to Patcellhytta the place the climb to the long-lasting mt. Slogen (1564masl) begins. You can be operating on the marked DNT mountaineering path as much as Slogen. The final half as much as Slogen may be very steep and includes scrambling, be catious on the best way up and down. From Slogen you could have an impressive view over Hjørundfjorden. The summit may be very slim, so one need to be carefull on the highest. Right here you’ll flip round and return the best way you got here up for 1,5km. However as an alternative of going again right down to Patchellhytta, you’ll flip left and proceed in direction of Isavatnet and additional down Langseterdalen previous Storevatnet on a pleasant path. On the car parking zone at Myrsætra you’ll discover an support station.Excerpt from the Race Guide
The following part started with us strolling up a stream. Actually?! Fuck this path I believed. I used to be ready for the ache of continually moist toes to kick in. Like the remainder of the route, there was nothing to do about it besides energy by means of. It was form of up hill, however very mild and positively not runnable (for me) because it was largely rocky. My energy hike was in full movement although and I used to be having fun with the intimating views of the mountains surrounding us on all sides and thunderous roar of the river apart from me. Off within the distance I might see the woman together with one other runner. I saved considering I used to be gaining on them however I actually wasn’t. The part was one other that felt prefer it went on for some time, however I used to be content material understanding we have been a minimum of climbing progressively greater. And so my thoughts wandered a little bit. I obtained considering again to that final support station and my timings and realised that each one wasn’t fairly what it appeared. While I used to be ‘on time’ and throughout the lower off. We hadn’t finished the climb from Blåhornet nor the ridge or its ‘extra’ technical descent. That was the very technical part and little doubt a more durable descent for me. So I extremely doubt it will have accomplished that longer part of the route in my spare half-hour. I realised I’d have been timed out on the first lower off (which was 13:00 on the final support station) if the route hadn’t been modified as a result of climate. I clang onto the hope that if the climate was higher then the terrain can be much less muddy and I might need moved a little bit faster!
Within the distance there was a little bit mountain hut of some type and a man out sweeping the decking space within the rain. It amused me. As I walked handed a volunteer referred to as to me and waved me as much as him. I checked my watch, sure, I used to be mindlessly following the 2 in entrance. I referred to as after them and so they walked again to hitch me on the climb. Every climb on this race appeared to discover a approach to be more difficult than the one earlier than. This one was only a ache to begin with because the terrain fluctuated between single observe and off observe often and we traversed so many streams and flows of water down off the mountain. It was simply miserably moist. Just like the variety of occasions I fell, I want I’d counted the variety of streams we’d crossed on this course, I’m sure it will be lots of. The mountains have been leaking water in all places as a result of latest climate. It solely stopped the upper we obtained. And it solely stopped as a result of the terrain grew to become rocky. As soon as extra we have been taking part in dot-to-dot connecting the pink path marks and traversing the large boulder fields.
There was a large sleeping right here. To my left I might sense and large presence and was admiring the mountain within the clouds. It was Slogen. The unique route included an out and again to summit of Slogen for ‘panoramic views’. However we wouldn’t be doing that right this moment. I used to be glad. This was additionally one of many hardest components within the race so I used to be relieved to be skipping! As a substitute we carried on straight handed it. Straight into and throughout the snow fields. These have been pretty quick however tough with one pole and never so aggressive soles on me sneakers.
After a while we started our descent in direction of Myrsætra. That is the place my drop bag can be. So I used to be in good spirits anticipating it. However the descent was powerful. It was, you guessed it, rocky. So the the three of us moved slowly. I don’t bear in mind way more than passing down alongside some lakes and rivers. I do bear in mind we have been in a valley and it jogged my memory a little bit of a piece the TDS route in the way it regarded (however more durable!).
There was loads extra falling over right here too and I used to be shedding observe of my orientation and the place we have been going. The girl jogged my memory that quickly we’d have the out and again to the help station to the left after which we’d return to the precise to climb out of the valley. It made sense when she defined it.
Oddly, right here I additionally realised my eyesight was a little bit hazy. I might see okay, nevertheless it wasn’t crystal clear. Virtually as if I had clingfilm on my eyes. There wasn’t something I might do and I assumed it was a mix of tiredness, fixed focus, the wind and the rain and maybe the white glare from the snow. Anyway, I wasn’t fearful, however I used to be acutely aware of it and to regulate it (Whey hey!)
We reached the out and again part and now, like earlier than, noticed runners and acquainted faces stepping into the other way. There have been loads much less of them this time although! I didn’t understand how lengthy it will be to the help station however I used to be conscious of how moist and muddy the observe was once more. I instantly determined that I’d not be altering my sneakers or socks. My socks can be soaked as quickly as I modified them so I believed it wasn’t well worth the effort. As I rounded the final nook into the help station I had certainly one of my greatest falls but. I slipped in some mud and each toes went up within the air, above my waist, as my arms and head threw up behind me with the movement. I landed on my bum and again straight right into a boggy patch. I used to be coated in mud. The volunteers laughed as I arrived (they heard the ‘fuck you’ scream) and I apologised as I sat straight in certainly one of their chairs and coated it within the contemporary mud. I ordered extra soup, ate extra cinnamon buns and eventually turned into a dry tshirt after 14 hours.
Not lengthy after the three of us reached the help station, we have been shortly adopted by a fourth runner a Polish man I’d been close to all through the day. We sat and ate and drank and joked with the volunteers. We had our personal little occasion earlier than cheering ourselves again out understanding we had 5 hours to cowl the 10km to the following (and last) lower off. Simple we thought… Fallacious…
Part 5: Myrsætra – Brunstad
At Myrsætra you’ll run again up the identical path you got here down as much as Langsætra the place you’ll comply with the DNT marked path as much as Gullmordalsvatnet passing by the Gullmorglacier alongside the path (you’ll not be operating on the glacier). This part may be very technical and you may be operating components of it on scree. After passing Gullmordalsvatnet you may be on the highest of the Gullmorbrekka (979masl) go, from right here you may be operating technical downhill to Velleseterhytta and additional on gravel street right down to Brunstad the place you’ll discover an support station. That is additionally the placement for the the lower off time at 21.00.Excerpt from the Race Guide
The primary part was okay. It was a repeat of the out and again. After which we we have been continuously on the lookout for the path. This part wasn’t marked by the race and no pink path markers might be seen anyplace. We adopted our GPS and can be on what appeared to be a path, then impulsively the GPS would say the path is off to our facet by 50-100 m. This meant we have been zig zagging up the climb. Crossing all types of untamed terrain to make sure we saved on target. From time to time the Polish man would seem from nowhere. He was having the identical navigation points. After an ‘age’, the lumpy foliage turned to rock. However that didn’t make it any simpler and the identical factor would occur as we’d flip at proper angles to try to preserve the proper course. We a minimum of might now often see some pink path markings on rocks although.
At this level we have been sticking collectively as a foursome as we crossed many extra snow fields and rocky sections climbing and traversing our means out of the valley. The girl, who was from Argentina, woman saved kindly providing me her poles as I used to be actually struggling on all of the snow crossings. So largely I used to be behind all of them and would time to time shout out after I thought we have been ‘off route’ once more. To me it felt prefer it was night time time. We have been deep within the clouds and the grey-ness of the mountains. The one mild was coming from the snowy flooring we trudged over. It was surreal and disorientating on the identical time, but it was solely about 17:00.
We have been trudging throughout one other snow part after I seen we we beginning to get farther from the path, which was going off on a type of angle above us. We stopped and debated for a while the place to go and finally agreed we shouldn’t proceed on the snow. For one factor, we couldn’t see any latest indicators of exercise on them! The difficulty nevertheless was that the snow was sloping and above it was a wall of rock. It didn’t look possible that the route might be up there. However that’s what the GPS was saying (and scrolling out we might see that the route would flip additional that means after a few km additional alongside). If we carried on the snow as an alternative we’d quickly be far off beam and will see nothing forward to make us wish to proceed (into the unknown).
So we again tracked and headed for the rocks. It took me a very long time with one pole to stand up to the rock and my troubles didn’t cease there, the climb dealing with us was a beast. It was primarily bouldering and mountain climbing. I used to be attempting to make use of energy from my arms which I simply would not have to haul myself up onto rocks. And it was all free. Admittedly I used to be scared. Truly, very scared. A fall right here can be unhealthy. A certainty of a severe harm and sure a really lengthy wait to be rescued. I used to be glad I wasn’t alone and Argentinian Woman was very supportive and sorted me with fixed reassurance. I knew we needed to maintain going although and that we should always even get a little bit greater to be safer and farther from the steep drop.
The climb, even simply masking just a few meters, was very sluggish. We have been barely transferring and the free rock was inflicting us difficulties. A number of occasions we knocked rocks again on one another, one time I launched a sizeable one which went tumbling down. My warnings weren’t sufficient for the Polish man to get out of the best way in time and all he might do was elevate his arm to guard his head because the rock fell straight into him. I felt so unhealthy, however he reassured me that he was okay, simply irritated by the scenario. It solely added to our frustrations and issues of security.
We have been a minimum of now monitoring in the precise course in keeping with the GPS and the rocky climb finally gave approach to firmer floor, albeit extra snow capped fields. I believed it couldn’t worsen than that part, however I used to be unsuitable (once more). We have been now confronted with one other directional dilemma. The route indicated we wanted to go away the snow and descent a really slim, very steep rock face. I regarded over the sting and it felt like an abyss, the top of the world. Meters beneath us all I might see was a darkish gray mist cloud wrapping the mountain. I couldn’t see a path or path. It’s truthful to say I used to be not eager and I didn’t wish to go that means. The choice although was to stay greater up and stroll alongside the snow coated mountain. I’d had sufficient of them although and we couldn’t see far sufficient forward to find out the place we might go or how we might re-join the trail if we did proceed that means. It felt like ‘down’ was really the higher choice. Two of us began to descend…
I used to be nonetheless on high of the snow when, within the distance, a lonely determine, in a vivid blue coat, emerged by means of the clouds together with his hand within the air waving. I didn’t know what to assume. He was clearly gesturing to us so we referred to as again to let the others know somebody was coming. We walked on and met him. He defined he was a volunteer from the race and he’d present us the best way. He confirmed we might go both means, however the snow may be the better route for us. So we adopted him.
He was transferring so effortlessly I struggled to maintain up. He pointed down a steep snow slope and mentioned we will go down right here. And off he went, sliding, snowboarding (with out skies) down hill. The French man went subsequent and just about made it the entire means standing up too. I adopted and instantly landed on my arse. I sped down like I used to be on some type of toboggan, bouncing up and down with the lumps. Very quickly in any respect my arse was so chilly and beginning to harm with the freeze and friction. The entire thing lasted a matter of seconds. Trying again, my Strava signifies we went down a slope of roughly -50 deg and coated round 70m in descent. My obvious tempo was 1:32 km per minute. What a experience!
One after the other all of us made it and we have been a minimum of handled to an unimaginable view of the Gullmordalsvatnet lake and valley surrounding it. The draw back, I might nonetheless see no clear path or path. We have been instructed that we wanted to traverse alongside to the precise of the lake. I couldn’t imagine it. What?! It was simply the slope/facet of the mountain with alternating layers of snow and rock. How? He reassured us that as we obtained nearer we might see some race markings to point the best way we should always go. He instructed us that we would want to climb and descend on the rock and keep away from the snow slopes always. I might see why, for those who slipped on these, nothing would cease you sliding all the best way into the freezing lake. Recreation over. There was one other catch although, first we would want to ascend on the preliminary snow slope, however to not fear, there’s a rope. Fuck sake…
One after the other we ascended the rope climb. This was terrible for me. I had no vitality or energy to tug myself up and no grip within the snow to supply any traction. It was yet one more very sluggish ascent. I relied on a tactic of pulling myself up and looping the rope round one hand with every pull to get extra leverage. I believed my shoulders would come out right here. Fortunately I quickly reached the sanctuary of the rocks. Ha! Now I used to be considering that the rocks have been my mates!
The volunteer left us right here and went again to search for the remaining runners behind us within the go someplace. We thanked him however I by no means obtained his identify. His last phrases have been “it’s 2 hours to the following checkpoint”. I checked out my watch. We had 2 hours and 10 minutes till the lower off. Shit. I believed we wouldn’t make it, that we might be timed out. If he was saying 2 hours, it will most likely take us longer. I held on to the glimmer of hope that there may be some sections we might run and that he was speaking about strolling time.
We nonetheless needed to travers the lake first although. Painstakingly, we looped up and down every rock part, perhaps as much as a 20m climb and descent every means. Trying and following the path flags which we might lastly see. Every loop required a small traverse both alongside the highest of the snow slope or alongside the underside, proper subsequent to the water. I might really feel the chilliness coming off it. At one level I despatched one other rock tumbling. Down the snow it rolled after which bounced off the underside of the slope, launching into the air and over the water onto a floating patch of ice with a ‘growth’. The lake didn’t flinch and I didn’t wish to comply with the rock!
As we lastly reached the top of the lake, the paths did turn into a little bit simpler. They have been removed from runnable although. Simply simpler than what the previous couple of kms entailed. It was nonetheless a horrid down hill although. In perhaps 3km we descended over 500m. It was very rocky and really slippery as we navigated by means of tens and tens of waterlogged paths and streams. There was loads of falling over and slipping right here too. We largely descended in silence. I’m undecided what the others have been considering, however all I might take into consideration was the lower off and whether or not we might make it or not. I wished too, however I used to be additionally questioning how I’d really feel if the choice to proceed was taken away from me. I genuinely believed that, after this lower off, we might have loads of time to complete (there was 13 hours for the final 20km or so). So I puzzled if we have been near the lower off if I’d be of thoughts to try to negotiate my proceed. It was all theoretical, nevertheless it saved me targeted. Going additional down, quick mountaineering, transferring with goal. It as all I might do.
We then came across a forest part which was far much less steep than earlier than. The paths grew to become a little bit drier and aside from just a few large leaps throughout streams (with damaged planks that have been supposed to be crossed) the following few hundred meters of descent have been a little bit extra forgiving. We nonetheless weren’t operating, however have been capable of decide up the tempo a minimum of. We have been racing the clock although as time was in opposition to us and I saved my watch and doing the calculations. 50 minutes to go, 40 minutes to go, half-hour to go… With each step I adjusted our development, nevertheless it didn’t actually make a lot distinction. It was going to be tight if we couldn’t run. After which luck was lastly on our facet…
From the forests we got here throughout a home with a girl gardening and a person tending to the trail. We ran down, mentioned hey and left by means of their gate. He wished us properly and mentioned he hoped we have been having fun with ourselves. I believe I simply laughed. However, from the gate, there was a gravel street. It was steep, nevertheless it was dry and even terrain. Gravity did its ‘factor’ and we ran. We have been a little bit spaced out as all of us descended at barely completely different speeds. However we have been all operating. After perhaps 1.5km, there have been folks additional alongside. It was the help station at Brunstad. I checked out my watch. We had 20 minutes to spare. We’d made it. This 10km part of the race had taken us 4.5 hours to finish!
I bumped into the help station with perception. I believed now I’d end. I believed in me. The choice to proceed was in my arms, and I do know there is just one reply to that query, pulling out isn’t a consideration, by no means an choice. I’d proceed and I’d end. We sat and set about refuelling. Consuming extra soup, extra cinnamon rolls, extra chocolate sweets and crisps. On the support station, the Argentinian woman’s household have been ready. It dawned on me that her and her husband, together with their canine, had been sitting reverse me within the reception firstly line some 18 hours earlier. With the positivity we have been feeling, the Polish man mentioned what I’d been considering “all of us stick collectively now proper, and end?”. There was no hesitation from me. Completely, sure I mentioned. The French man agreed additionally. I’m undecided if I missed it someplace however the woman had determined that this was the place her journey would finish. She merely had no extra need to proceed. I solely realised when she was providing me her poles to proceed on with as ‘she didn’t want them anymore’. Even now, after bowing out she was nonetheless supporting and taking care of me. I felt unhappy and emotional that she wouldn’t be seeing it by means of with us. I declined the supply of the poles although. I made it this far and was assured I’d be okay.
As we set again out we have been a little bit deflated that we nonetheless had over 20km to go. The amended route GPX had indicated we might be doing round 88km in whole, however we have been already round 77km at this level. It made sense although, the ultimate two sections have been unchanged and we nonetheless needed to full them. We left simply earlier than 9pm (after which stopped right away as I had forgotten to get my head torch out prepared for the darkness).
Part 6: Brunstad – Svartevatnet
From Brunstad you’ll run to Brunstadsætra by means of lush birchforrest and crossing the river proper earlier than Brunstadsætra. On Brunstadsætra you’re going to get on the great and really steep path as much as Storevatnet. From Storevatnet you may be climbing off path as much as 1100m and traverse over to Vassdalen (The course is just not going to the height of Ystevasshornet) the place you may be operating downhill on technical path down Svartevatnet. On the car parking zone by Svartevatnet you’ll discover a support station.Excerpt from the Race Guide
Initially we had a gravel street ascent much like what we had simply descended. This was good for relieving again into the duty forward. We took this chance to talk and for the primary time exchanged names. It felt foolish that we’d been by means of a lot collectively with out understanding who we have been. This was the place I realized that the Polish man was Kamil and the French man was Matt. From the outcomes desk I now know that the stunning Argentina was Margarita. These have been my companions, my saviours.
A number of kms later the gravel modified to forest. The gradual climb, with no warning then grew to become very steep swap backs as we climbed for one more 500m within the slippery dense forest. I needed to cease just a few occasions to catch my breathe and refocus. It was powerful going, however I used to be happier with any such climb than the numerous we’d finished earlier than.
After leaving the forest it was extra off-track plodding within the open mountainside as we proceed to about 850masl the place the bottom flattened out. Right here we might see up forward a semi-circle of mountains surrounding us. As soon as once more I had no concept the place we have been going and the way we might ‘escape’ from right here and descend again down. We continued strolling in direction of it because the day mild diminished and darkness started to set in.
We reached a lake the place our head torches began to select up the feint shimmer of the reflective tape for the race markings. One or two at a time. They gave a sign of the place to go, however not an excessive amount of perception as to the place we have been really heading. Slowly it grew to become clear that we have been simply going ‘straight up’ to get out of the plateau. Significantly? Fuck you. Within the darkness we started to climb the rocks once more. I used to be fighting the climb. Matt and Kamil have been getting progressively additional away. I set myself a goal to relaxation and breathe at every flag marker, solely meters away from each other, however I used to be stopping a number of occasions between each. We climbed for perhaps one other 200-300 meters, up and throughout scree slopes, the rocks free below foot and after I grabbed at them with my arms for assist. As I reached the highest we have been now in full darkness. Moreover the reflective path markers I might now additionally navigate by following the pinnacle torches of the others within the distance.
We started the descent which wasn’t any simpler. Free and sharp rocks, winding swap backs and moist streams to cross. We stopped at one stream and crammed our bottles with ice chilly water. It was pleasant. I gulped again two bottles right away. Like many earlier than this one, the streams we wanted to cross have been usually bursting on the seams and the ‘path throughout’ was submerged below rampant and highly effective flowing water. They have been tough to cross and much more so within the night time. It was a case of steadying ourselves and hoping for the most effective, accepting that we might be moist to our shins. The intention was to get to the opposite facet and to not get sucked in or fall over. The roar of water within the night time was fairly one thing. It was the one factor we might hear out right here within the wild.
After some time the rocks gave approach to forests and also you already know that these have been steep, muddy and slippery. As we progressed, an enormous lake began to come back into focus beneath us. Approach off forward, on high of a mountain silhouette within the darkness I might see two head torches means up within the sky. I knew the place we have been heading now. We’d descend to a street crossing (Svartevatnet) earlier than the ultimate climb on the opposite facet. I bear in mind this part once we drove alongside the street into Stranda once we first arrived.
I used to be glad to get off the forest observe as we bottomed out on the lake. Right here there was a barely flat gravel part in direction of the street. At this level Kamil, who was in entrance on the descent was now behind me. Matt was up forward on the street and I shouted at him after I noticed the markers on the opposite facet. We began to cross. Then a great deal of volunteers got here into sight additional up the street at a lay-by. They gestured us in direction of them. It was one other support station that I had full forgotten about.
Right here I used to be prepared to go away fairly rapidly and simply get on with it. I used to be sick of soup now so ate some crisps and cookies. Matt had some soup and a French man got here to say hey to him. He was within the space, noticed concerning the race and heard there was a French particular person operating, so he stayed out to say hey and cheer him on. How beautiful that was. Kamil sat in a chair and instructed us to go on with out him, that he was going to have some sleep as he was fighting fatigue. He wrapped up and tried to get comfy. I let Matt know. While we have been there I had a half cup of espresso to attempt to combat off my very own tiredness earlier than we set again out. For now, we have been down to 2. I used to be positive Kamil would meet up with us in some unspecified time in the future on the climb within the night time.
Part 7: Svartevatnet – Stranda
By Svartevatnet you’ll cross the street and get on the path to Langevatnet and additional to Roaldshornet (1230masl). From the summit of Roaldshornet you may benefit from the epic view over Storfjorden and right down to Stranda. You’ll proceed to Blåfjellet and downhill Trollvaregga with technical operating right down to Skuravatnet. (The course is just not going as much as Skurahornet, it goes straight to Stranda from Skuravatnet) .From Skuravatnet you may be operating on a pleasant path all the best way right down to the outskirts of Stranda, after which on gravel and asphalt roads right down to the end line on the city sq. in Stranda.Excerpt from the Race Guide
And so, at 01:00 within the morning we started our last part. From the help station we crossed the street and started heading into the darkness of the forests as soon as extra. The timber lasted solely a short time and the climb started. Initially I had flash backs of the primary climb of the race once we left the forest and the mountain opened up. The terrain felt very comparable. It was a sequence of gently inclining winding large paths suffering from bogs and waterlogged foliage. In comparison with the opposite climbs of the race I used to be very completely satisfied at that second in time. This felt very manageable.
As we had beforehand, we navigated by reflection of the race markings. Every one opening one other perception into the place we have been heading. The big silhouette of the mountain standing tall in entrance of us and getting nearer with every step. As we neared it, the climb took us to the mountain face and the rocky ascent started, however, it was no the place close to as unhealthy as those earlier than. I felt this was the simplest climb of the night time and probably of the entire race. I used to be grateful.
Earlier than we reached the summit, my watch died. I hate this watch. I settle for it’s now a great few years previous (it’s a Suunto 9 Baro) however the battery simply doesn’t final what it signifies it is going to. Barely 24 hours with a few of that on the Ultraks mode. Ineffective. I couldn’t care much less about charging it now. I simply wished to complete the race and relaxation.
The climb wasn’t too unhealthy both and we emerged onto the roof of the mountain. It was, after all, rocky however for essentially the most half we have been now traversing the highest alongside to the following level at Roaldshornet. It was very chilly and windy on high and we stopped to layer up prepared for the ultimate climb to the summit. As we hiked alongside to the summit, with a mild undulation, the solar began to rise to the East. It was going to be spectacular. We’d miss the total dawn and views from the summit, however we had a glimpse of the orange glow breaking apart the darkness. We saved transferring and coated the ultimate little dip and climb again as much as Roaldshornet the place we might begin to see the panorama forward of us for our descent again to Stranda. From right here it was all ‘downhill’ (after all each path downhill has some sneaky ‘uphills’ included!).
The descent was going to be lengthy although and it was nonetheless very technical. As soon as once more lumbering over a boulder subject of rocks. For a lot of components I needed to sit and decrease myself down and we have been looking for the most effective and most accessible route between markers, generally straying from the extra apparent path as a result of slippery rocks or muddy sections that we have been nonetheless slipping and falling on. Ultimately, additional down, we might see a brief ridgeline means beneath resulting in what regarded like dry dust trails. We have been heading for it and we’d then loop down into the forests again in direction of Stranda. We had a visible intention, though it nonetheless felt like a really very long time till we reached the ridge.
We continued the descent from the ridge which was loads more durable than I anticipated. It was an entire mess from the rain and the mud and bogs have been in all places. The place attainable we averted the path, operating over the lumpy floor alongside the perimeters as an alternative. In some locations, picket buildings have been there to go over the marsh land, however they weren’t actually useful to us. With so many runners having been by means of the day earlier than, the land was utterly churned up and the walkways coated in mud and equally as slippery and harmful. I believe I fell extra alongside this part than anyplace else on the course! Matt should have been sick of listening to me swearing and groaning. I did one spectacular fall the place I slipped and skidded downhill, finishing a 180 spin and falling flat on my entrance, face first, right into a bathroom. The mud muffled my scream. It was slower progress than I anticipated at this level and it actually wasn’t the dry dust trails I’d been imagining from the view on the high. Now and again we regarded again, anticipating to see Kamil come bounding handed us. At one level I swore I noticed a head torch on the summit at Roaldshornet.
The mountain facet began to provide approach to forest tracks, which weren’t all that higher. They felt steeper and, while drier for essentially the most half, nonetheless had many moist and muddy sections. The profit now was that the timber might be used to regular ourselves and break our falls. As we ran down, we have been getting hotter and warmer. The layers from the mountain have been positively not wanted now, however the inclination to cease and delay the end additional was low. We wished it to be over as quickly as attainable.
A number of kilometres later we left the forest and hit some street. We crossed some fields and have been then again on the street in a piece we each recognised from visiting the city. It wouldn’t be lengthy now till we have been on the primary street into Stranda and right down to the end line. We have been operating. In all probability very slowly however we have been operating for the primary time for a lot of, many hours. It was painful and sluggish however we have been inching in direction of the end as we ran down the abandoned and quiet street. It was a while after 06:00 within the morning.
We rounded the ultimate flip and climbed the steps into and thru the lodge earlier than the end line (it was unusual passing straight by means of a constructing to get to the end!) and emerged into the ultimate stretch to a lone clap from a volunteer on the end line. We walked over the road. The ultimate finishers. We hello fived and smiled. We’d finished it.
I believed the volunteer was Oscar (the Race Director) nevertheless it was Martin. He instructed us he was on the final support station with Kamil when he dropped out. It took us a second for the realisation to set in, Kamil hadn’t continued on after his try and sleep. I felt unhealthy for abandoning him and puzzled if he would have been okay if he saved going? Martin gave us our medals, congratulated us and went and fetched us pizza. Then Matt’s spouse, Natalia, Nick, Arlene and Gif all arrived and congratulated us, taking us again to the security of a bathe and mattress! We had finished it.
I knew this race was going to be tough and would come with terrain that I’m not at all times comfy with. Nonetheless, it was worse and more durable than I imagined. The climate for the race was really okay, however the terrain had suffered from weeks of rain and that made it far harder that it might have been. I reckon I should have fallen 30-50 occasions. I wouldn’t be stunned if we crossed 100s of rivers and streams all through the 100km. I’m really stunned my toes weren’t in a worse state after I completed (they have been fairly mangled although!). Oscar acknowledged the situations in has submit race breifing:
SFTR 2022 was simply as exhausting and muddy as it may be! We obtained a little bit of all the things with some glimpses of solar, rain, snow, wind. The suggestions from the elite subject in Golden Path World Collection was that this was essentially the most technical race they ever participated in. So all of you who joined the race ought to be happy with your effort! The excellent news is that we ordered solar for SFTR 2023, the unhealthy information is that we ordered solar for 2022 too 😉Oscar, RD
It’s doubtless the hardest 100km I’ve finished (and we didn’t fairly get to the 100km mark!) It took round 5-8 hours longer than my typical time for a mountainous 100km. That’s fairly a big time distinction. Regardless of the course and the situations, the native Scandinavians ran unimaginable occasions. I’m amazed at how effortlessly they cowl this type of terrain, they’re phenomenal athletes.
Reflecting again on the progress, I really would have been timed out on the first lower off (round 40km / 11hrs) if the route hadn’t been amended. I see no means I might have accomplished the unique route within the time I had remaining on the lower off. The gods have been on my facet on this event!
I additionally assume we might have been timed out on the second lower off (Brunstad) if it weren’t for (1) the volunteer who discovered us within the Gullmorbrekka go at confirmed us the best way (thanks a lot!) (2) the quick street part right down to the help station at Brunstad which meant we might run! with out these, I’m positive we wouldn’t have made it in time.
I got here away from this race with my ankles fairly overwhelmed up, a great deal of cuts and bruises, one damaged pole, a ripped pair of gloves and a sneakers shredded on all sides. But, I noticed it by means of, I persevered and as soon as extra can say I’m a finisher and have re-evaluated my very own limitations and strengths. I like this sport!
As with each race I met some unimaginable folks. Individuals who present every kind of willpower, energy and can energy who go above and past to assist and assist you. Thanks Margarita, Kamil and Matt. And naturally, thanks to Oscar and his workforce and thanks Norway!
For an professional view on the race (all distances) take a learn of Ian’s race report – Strand Fjord Path Race 2022.
A few of the skilled race pictures: