My longest run, so far…
«Den Store Styrkeprøven» («The great endeavor» – or something up that alley) is a march/run on Hareidlandet island, Sunnmøre, Norway. The march begins at Eiksund (20m) and ends up at Korshamn near Hjørungavåg. The 2016 march was the 18th time this march took place, with Hareid IL as the organizer.
Compared to other “great endeavors” – triathlons, ultra runs or bike races – this particular march is definitely not among the hardest. The route is 16km+ and the total vertical gain is approx. 1260m. Normal hiking time is 4-6 hours. This course also attracts mountain runners, although the event is still far from being one of the major events in Norwegian scale.
Either way, I decided that I should participate on the Sep 25 2016 march/run. The record time was 2h:9m, and according to the 2015 results, only 5 persons finished under 3 hours. The winning time was 2h:20m. So my goal was to finish under 3 hours. After some thinking, I decided that I would be very happy if I could do it in 2h:40m. I’m no mountain runner, but I am fairly strong in the mountains so I definitely thought I could have a chance.
The march/run started at 10am, which meant that I needed to have my breakfast at 7am. After breakfast, I drove to Korshamn and left my bicycle there, and then I drove back home for some final preparations before I went to Eiksund and met the other competitors. They came in all varieties – from super-fit, fit, moderately fit and in all ages.
While the others warmed up along the asphalt road, I warmed up by running up and down the gravel road to where the forest path begins. I didn’t want to be the last one into the forest and so I “practiced” for the opening.
When the start signal sounded at 10am sharp, I noticed that I was in front. Despite my plan for warming up, I was quite surprised. I didn’t want to create chaos behind me and started running up the path which is best suited for walking. After a little while, I had no one behind me, and I didn’t understand *anything*.
But after a while, the winner of the race (Terje Åmelfot) came up behind me and stayed there for a long time. He wouldn’t pass, and I was happy I had ear plugs and good music. My plan was to concentrate on my own performance and nothing else.
As we passed below Blåtind, Terje passed me and I made no effort to catch up with him again. I also deliberately chose never to look behind me, as I didn’t want any pressure – whatever the status was back there.
Closing in on Kongsvollen (683m), Terje was only 100 meters ahead of me. However, I decided to focus on myself. I passed Kongsvollen 52m:40s after leaving Eiksund – which isn’t too bad – and I now looked forward to a long and nice run down Kongsvollen’s north ridge. The wind was quite strong, so the runners had to fight for the balance down “Bukketrappa” – the steepest part of the ridge.
On my way down from Kvamstua to Alskleiva, I found it best to “refuel” for the upcoming climb to Ulsettua (389m), and I had a chocolate bar and a mix of coca cola and coffee. Passing Alskleiva, I chose not to stop at the drinking station – which was the only drinking station.
The ascent of Ulsettua went a bit easier than I had expected, and except for a couple of steep pitches, I was for the most part running. The path across this mountain is BAD and to run here costs extra energy.
When I reached Engjaskaret, my motivation was renewed. Only 3km and one small mountain to top go! I had a small peek across my shoulder and saw that no one was on my tail. There and then I decided to finish as the runner-up!
The path across Åsefjellet was easy to run, but I felt that I needed to move my legs in a controlled manner, as cramp was just behind the corner. In other words, no jumps or sudden movements!
At Åsen, the route follows the gravel road to Korshamn. I had another peek across my shoulder, and I seemed to be home free! I ran as fast as I could – without risking cramp – for the remaining 1,1km and finished in 2h:17m:51s – 7 minutes after Terje. His time – 2h:10m – was only 1 min behind the record. I was super-happy! This was FAR beyond my own expectations. I even beat the 2015 winning time with 3 minutes!
3 minutes later, Ole Magnus Melchior came in as #3. 4 minutes after him, Martin Hauge-Nilsen finished in 2h:24m. Ole Magnus invited me to drive him back to Eiksund, and we left after approx. 10 competitors had finished.
From Eiksund, I drove home to pick up Karma, and then I drove back to Korshamn to pick up my bike. Bernhard (in charge of the organizing committee and a colleague of mine) was still at the finish line, waiting for the rest of the competitors. It would still be 3 more hours before he could call it a day…
I said goodbye to Bernhard and drove up to Løsetvatnet, where Karma would finally get her walk. The hike up to Garnestua (653m) was considerably harder than normal, but at least Karma was happy.
Pictures from the day: