Monday, November 4, 2013

Norseman, baby!

It is absolutely possible to feel really, really excited...and really, really terrified at the same time.  And, so you know in advance, my current state means that the remainder of this blog post contains more superlatives than most would deem necessary.  Trust me, the words epic, formidable and legendary are entirely appropriate here! 

Planning for the 2014 race season took an incredible turn yesterday, when I received the news that I had been selected as one of five female elite athletes to participate in the Norseman in August 2014, and the sole Canadian elite athlete (men or women).  A journey to the Land of the Midnight Sun is in the cards!

The legendary Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is an exclusive, spectacular, no-frills beast of a triathlon.  Same distance as an Ironman, but ideologically miles apart.  Athletes are required to furnish their own support teams, and you are racing for one simple prize:  the iconic black finisher t-shirt.

Photos of past years are haunting and intimidating, but unquestionably breathtaking and intriguing.

The race starts at 5am, by jumping off a ferry for a 3.8k swim in the dazzling (and quite possibly, cold) Hardangerfjord.
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This is followed by a 180k ride through the formidable and stunning Hardangervidda mountain plateau.  What race could possibly be complete without five mountain passes of up to 10% grade and an aggregate elevation of almost 5000m?
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And the icing on the cake is the 42k run (hike..scramble...walk?) that includes a 1400m climb over the last 17k to the finish line atop Mt. Gaustatoppen.  Oh, and if weather conditions turn, you get to walk back down :)
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By the time the enrollment window for 2014 had closed in late October, 1954 athletes from 54 countries had entered for the chance to participate (there are 250 lottery entries + 20 elite slots) .  Despite its physical demands and its remote location, Norseman is an elusive and sought-after triathlon experience.
The AG lottery stats from Norseman's facebook page.  It is one tough ticket!
Reaction from friends and family has been interesting.  There are those who totally get the allure...and the exact opposite.  The best response, from my father, literally made me laugh out loud:

"Uh did you read the info ? Is this something a father wants to know ? Were you unable to get on an Everest climb expedition?  Luv, Dad"

The following tip from a Norseman finisher, contained in the acceptance e-mail, fully epitomizes the ideological attraction of this race and helps explain why an entry is so desirable.  Simply - it's the mindset of the athletes, and of the race organizers, to celebrate the journey, to embrace the surroundings and to test the limits of the human experience.  It is accepted fully as an arduous journey over stunning but unforgiving terrain, to a finish line you are required to reach as a team.  There is no PB and no fast times, but you can absolutely forget the word "impossible" doesn't reside amidst the Norsemen.

Celebrate the sport, 
Love your support,
Enjoy your surroundings,
and have a great race.

Jumping off ferries.  Cold is the new hot.  Channel the inner Canadian polar bear.  So many possible themes abound.  Most of all, I am incredibly honored to be chosen for this epic adventure...and absolutely bursting with excitement!!

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