” The hunter becomes the hunted „
Johannes met me going in to T2 and grabbed my bike.
My legs were soar but I followed him and got to my changing area.
By now the weather had cleared up perfectly and some snippets of sun were shining through the clouds.
Removed a lot of the excess clothes and decided to keep the speed top over my tri suit.
Let me tell you, sometimes it’s worth to get the good stuff as both my tri suit and speed top were completely dry!
Anyways, Johannes went on babbling something about when I go out I will be in 151st place.
It was godsent to remove the wet bike shoes and socks replacing them with fresh dry socks.
I started to run and while passing the checkpoint I missed if there were supposed to be someone telling me my rank or if it was visible on a LED board.
But what Johannes had told me was true, I was rank 151!
While I didn’t know this at the time being, I actually passed someone in T2, well that’s a first 🙂
Johannes had given me a gel in T2 to eat plus a couple of ones to fit in my pockets.
The sportschews did not want to go down easily as I was so tired in the jaws.
On the bike I had been so tense that everything hurt now and chewing something was the last thing on my mind.
I usually wear thin running socks but opted for thicker more comfortable ones in this long distance.
This did not work well as I had forgotten to open up the shoelaces.
My left foot started to feel numb every time it hit the ground but it was manageable.
The smart thing about this race is not only are you chasing a good time, but it has to be better than 161 other athletes.
Everyone is chasing that cut off!
I knew this and by being in rank 151, I now went from being the hunter to being hunted.
” I knew this was a lie „
While coming out from T2 I started making plans.
I knew there were people coming after me and if they would see me walk that would probably give them some power.
So the plan was to keep running for as long as I could.
Try to get out of sight, make them believe that they can’t catch me.
When hitting just below the 3km mark Johannes managed to find a parking spot to give me aid.
This was perfect as by now I was so tired I didn’t know where to go.
It would also look good to start walking when drinking and eating a gel I thought.
As I never looked back I do not know how many saw me or how close they were.
But Johannes told me repeatedly that there were a pack coming from behind but they looked more tired than me and that they were also walking.
I knew this was a lie.
” Ahlgrens bilar „
With one foot in front of the other I picked up pace again.
If I could just run and try to preserve some energy while eating gels maybe I would have the strength to have some faster kilometers in me if needed in the end.
Told Johannes that we have to have close contact while on the run so that I could stock up on cola and whatever I needed at the time being.
He would go around 800m and try to find another parking slot and wait for me with whatever I needed.
I would yell ‘COLA’ and he’d run back to the car to get it.
Or if I’d told him beforehand that next I wanted a gel or energy drink, he would stand ready with that item.
Once I told him I wanted an energy drink beforehand and when I caught up with him again he stood ready with the energy drink.
And I was yelling ‘COLA’ and he was stumped as we had agreed on energy drink before.
He couldn’t help it but I wanted cola and there he was.. he told me that he was doing the best he could.
I felt so sorry for him as he was doing a great job but my mind was swaying so much.
Another time he came up to me with ‘Ahlgrens Bilar’ (swedish candy).
Put some of them in my hand and 2 of them in my mouth and I could not chew them as they were so hard (at least it felt hard to chew).
So I spit them out and threw the ones he’d put in my hand right out on a field.
Yelled at him that they were no good and he retorted that they’re not supposed to be good, they’re supposed to give you energy!
” Break down the marathon „
While all this were happening I was caught with I think at least 2 people.
It was hard on the mind when you heard the footsteps from behind you.
But I did know that as long as not 10 people caught up with me I would just do my thing.
And by now it was running for as long as I could and then walk with Johannes for 10-20 seconds.
To get some distance in me I picked out another support crew car and ran to that one.
Or a sign nearby. Always something to make it manageable and break down the marathon into something tangible.
After a while I could see some people in front of me.
I knew my tactics about not overdoing it would pay off sooner or later.
My body was also on the verge of cramping. I could feel it every time I took a step that wasn’t aligned as previous step.
But I kept it bay.
Very slowly I started picking off maybe 3 or 4 other athletes.
It gave me such strength to come up behind another athlete that for maybe 1 minute after you didn’t think about the pain.
Just getting past that person telling them a nice ‘come take my back and you’ll be fine’ but increased the speed to make sure they wouldn’t follow you.
And then I got to the 25km mark.
From now on it was zombie hill.
It’s called this because you do not run here, you walk. Like a zombie
My favorite picture is the one below. It depicts exactly my feelings.
I’m at the 20km mark and just stopped to walk 10s. I was thinking how the hell will I be able to reach that finish on the mountain ahead of me covered in clouds.
It was an insane feeling.
” End of it all „
I’m known to walk fast which was good at zombie hill.
Looking up at that dwindling road I could see someone trying to jog.
But he was not faster than everyone else.
Instead it was the ones with a good steady stride that had a good pace and gained on other slow walkers.
Up up and up with no end in sight. It was almost 7.5km of hairpin bends and high inclination.
I started making progress and Johannes now parked the car up the road and ran back to me so he could keep me company.
He had had close contact with my wife Josefin and Johannes significant other Christine during the whole day.
They were following me online and checking the status of athletes in front/back of me.
But now was extra important as all the walkers were headed for the dreaded cutoff point at 32.5km.
Would I be one of the 160 first?
Johannes told me the information from Norseman crew had been that the GPS trackers were not 100% reliable.
And my rank shifted quickly sometimes from 140 to 150 something according to Josefin and Christine.
I tried to pick up the pace and left some people behind me.
Just above, some 50 meter in front of me, were probably 5-6 others with their support.
When suddenly a french girl came up to them and telling them loudly something in french.
By the sound of her voice I could hear something was wrong, but nothing happened.
I caught up with them and suddenly we came around a corner and there it was. The 32.5km mark.
The fucking end of it all.
The what am I doing here, just to come to this point to have someone tell me white or black.
And the french lady started yelling.
Everyone began to run towards the blue mat and little tent that was up there.
I panicked as well and started running. It was maybe 50 meters, no more.
But everything happened so slowly and let me tell you, the running was not running.
It was bizarre because everyone thought they were running but it looked like they had the worst case of ‘I’m going to shit myself’ walk.
I get to the blue mat and a Norseman crew greets me with a ‘Great job, congrats’.
‘Is it a black T-shirt’ I exclaimed and he answered ‘Great job’.
Once again I asked while breathing heavily ‘BLACK T-SHIRT!?!’
And then he replied ‘yes, black T-shirt’.
I couldn’t believe it.
I really could not.
” Climb the final stretch „
Johannes had parked the car at the last parking spot and came down to hug me.
A lot of people were changing clothes for the final ascent up the mountain.
High on endorphin I wanted to push on and maybe get another rank or 2.
We walked on up to the 37.5km mark where you had to be examined by a Norseman crew.
It was safety measures to make sure you would be fit to climb the final stretch.
He also checked the back packs for mandatory utilities such as warm clothes, cell phone, head lamp food and water.
The weather up on Gausta mountain could change in a blink of an eye.
We quickly changed into warmer clothes as now it became more chilly and windy and we were on our way up.
Part of the road were pretty OK but mostly it was very rocky.
It was awesome going up even if the energy was low. All the other support crew teams that were headed down stopped to cheer me on.
What wasn’t so nice was that one team told us that we only had 40 min left and you could see that the top was nearing.
But after 40 mins and we reached the top, it really wasn’t the top as it continued on behind it.
And when another norwegian told us that it was only 40 min to the top both me and Johannes laughed.
” Basic triathlon „
There is really nothing more to say than I had a lot to think about when walking up the final stretch.
It felt like ages but when we finally found the top amidst the clouds I took some quick steps and yelled from the top of my lungs while I passed the blue time mat.
All the feelings I’ve had the whole day was just gone.
It’s funny because in some races you have a lot of people cheering you on at the finish line.
You get massage and a hefty food plate and maybe some beer afterwards.
But here at Norseman, they take your GPS tracker and time chip and give you soup.
If you wanted more you could visit the small cafeteria that resided just next to the finish line.
Norseman is truly a basic triathlon besides extreme and unique.
Johannes ‘interviewed’ me just after the 32.5km cut off where I had learned that the black T-shirt was mine to grab.
Kind of emotional at that point so bare with me.
Note: My final time was 15h 32min 10s and it put me in place 142.
The goals I had for the run:
- Get to cutoff point and be within rank 160
- Keep pace below 6min/km
- Never look back
- Not get mad if someone passed me
- Finish for white T-shirt
While mentally I had to focus on the black T-shirt I knew that this was somewhat ‘aim for the stars and reach the tree tops’.
Never in my life did I think I would make it.
Looking at the results it was only 7 minutes between me and the person coming in at rank 161 to the cutoff at 32.5km.
It’s hard to understand that so many hours went by and If I’d been just 7 minutes slower I would have gotten a white t-shirt.
The next day we got to pick up the black T-shirt.
Next blog will actually be Johannes writing down how he experienced the whole day.
After this there will be a post on how Norseman affected me both physically and mentally so stay tuned.