Tromsø is located at 69 degrees of latitude north and it is well known for the northern light, the midnight sun and for its beautiful mountains over the fjords. I am lucky enough to live in this place a bit far away from the rest of the world, and to have the possibility to run every week the mountains around the city.
The race organized by Kiljan and Emilie is part of the skyrun worldseries and attracts every year, since 2013, many runners from all around the world. The race has been more and more popular both for the spectacular surrounding and routes, but also because is the only skyrun which starts at sea level, unlike the rest of the other skyrace of the circuit which goes mostly over 2000m of altitude. The format is about the same every year, namely on Friday the vertical kilometer, and on Saturday 3 different distances: Tromsdalstinden-Hamperokken (58km and 4600m ascent!!), Tromsdalstinden (32km and 2000m ascent) and a tour-race to Bønntuva (15km and 700m ascent).
Last year I have run both Friday and Saturday, but this year I've decided to focus more on the Tromsdalstinden skyrace of 32km and save my legs from the 1044m climb over only 2.8km of the "Store Blåmann" on Friday.
The longest Hamperokken race with his 58km and a monster ascent of 4600m has only 200 spots available, offers a lot of technical climbs and downhills and indeed requires specific training for many hours out in the mountains, as well as a few weeks of recovering after eventually completing it. That is way out of my capability and of my training focus, although one day I might consider it :)
The Tromsdalstinden skyrace is still very long with its 32km, but it's anyhow something achievable within my OCR training regime, and not least this was going to be "just" a longer run in my usual training backyard. In fact the start and the finish line were located in the city center only 300m away from my flat, with the route reaching the mountains I use to run whenever I have a few hours available.
I came to this race after a month of hard training with over 400km in the legs, most of them uphill, so the question was not if I was prepared for the race, but if I had still enough power in my legs for such a long race.
Sleeping in your bed, making your own food, avoid packing and traveling is something very rear to experience before a race, and indeed a huge advantage that this time I could benefit of.
At 11 on Saturday morning we were off from the city center of Tromsø running a few kilometers on the asphalt, over the bridge to the mainland, before finally hit the trails and the first ascent, namely 400m of moderately steep terrain leading to the first and only aid station after 5km (the same station will be passed on the way back after 27km). I love to run minimalistic, so I had no more than a light belt full of gels, a light jacket in the shorts' pocket and a soft bottle of 0,5l in my hand which I refilled already at the aid station. As said, this route has not many secret for me, so I knew there will be the chance to get more water directly from the rivers every 50 minutes circa.
My pace was pretty steady and I was focusing on running uphill keeping my pulse under control, getting up first to Fløya (635m) and than to Bønntuva (775m) on both easy terrain and gradient. Starting the first downhill to Djupdålen (500m) after 1 hour, I decided to take my first gel, and while focusing on opening the package I crashed into a stone and felt on the rocks as a potatoes' sack tearing off my bib (with incorporate chip) and opening a slightly deep wound in my left hand, as well as some bruises. Falling in the most easy and known part of the route was pretty stupid, mainly because I had to stop 3-4 minutes to fix my number and washing out part of the blood. The following downhill had little focus on good running bust mostly on stopping the blood flowing from my hand. Luckily in Djupdålen I could wash myself in the river, my hand was not bleeding much anymore, and I could fill up the water bottle before start the next uphill. I was now back focusing on my running while doing the steep climb from Djupdålen to Rødryggen and further to the highest point of the race: Tromsdalstinden (1238m).
Tromsdalstinden is dominating Tromsø and the climb isn't technical, but the last 300m ascent are on loose rocks which slow down the pace. As well as the last 5 times I have been to the top of Tromsdalstinden there was pooring rain, wind and fog, which forced me to use my jacket for a short while, in fact the weather was otherwise perfect with light clouds and around 15/16 degrees.
After about 2 hours I was on the top of Tromsdalstinden with 14km and 1600m ascent done, the body felt very good although another gel and a muesli bar were well needed while starting the downhill. Following what is known as "the summer route of Tromsdalstinden", we were on the most technical part of the race. Here there are many loose rocks and some steep parts which indeed put extra stress on the legs, before reaching a flat part and a few kilometers of more comfortable downhill on soft trails which allow for higher speed and enjoyable running. I have tried to keep control of my pace all the way, and I was now really having fun and feeling good running down to the valley before hitting the last 350m ascent (over 5km) back to the aid station.
There were people supporting all the way, and more and more known (or less known) faces cheering while getting closer to the last part of the race. I was running and chatting along with many runners from all over the world on the mountains I love most, literally flying on the wings of the happiness of running. I am not sure if the atmosphere made me run faster or slowed me down to enjoy the moment, but I was soon back at the top of Fjellheisen going for the last downhill. Running than again over the bridge to the city, I was crossing the finish line after 3 hours and 48 minutes as number 38 overall (about 20 minutes quicker than last year!). It was just a great day on my favourite mountains, with the pure joy of running out in the nature, meeting many great people as my teammates Anna from Asics Frontrunner Sweden.
I might have probably push my body a bit harder in some parts, and being more careful I could have saved a few more minutes, but often what matters most is the experience and feelings you get from a race, and Tromsø Skyrace 2018 was nothing less than amazing.
For the race, I have used my Gecko XT, it was a perfect choice: great grip and comfort for a long race with many different types of terrain.
Now the training continues towards the 2nd of September when the OCR series will start again in Gent, and preparing for the autumn races and the OCR World Championship in London in October. Cheers!
Matematikk, naturfag og fitness lærer - Personlig trener fra TROMSO
Aldersgruppe: 30-34 (Elite Wave)
Klubb: OCR Norway
Trener: Jeg lytter og lærer fra flere, men er jeg og kroppen min som lage plana
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