This weekend he steps out of the cold and into Europe’s red-hot racing arena, when the snow is replaced by the dry, sun-baked trails of the Transgrancanaria ultra-marathon.
Here is Eirik’s latest blog from the Canary Islands.
I have been on the island since Monday, and yes it’s safe to say the conditions are a little bit different to back home in Norway!
I left behind temperatures way below the freezing level and am now running under searing sunshine. And of course, there is no snow here!
Because of this, it was crucial that I flew out to Gran Canaria well in advance of the race to ensure I was able to acclimatize and get my legs used to the hard ground once again. I have spent the last few days running sections of the 82km (50-mile) advanced course.
The first 44km is predominantly uphill, with almost 4,000m of vertical climbing and only 2,000m of descent. Having spent much of the last six years competing in uphill-only races in Norway, this opening part of the course is a dream for me.
The last 38km, however, is when I will really have to push my body to its limit. Although largely downhill and flat, this part of the course will be tough for me. I know that because that is exactly how it was last year when I did the same race. I hit 52km and my body just wanted to give up. I have never had to dig that deep into my reserves just to make a finish line. Despite my problems in the final stages of last year’s race I was still able to finish fifth in a time of 8:55:24.
This year I feel much better prepared. That is because after the 2013 Transgrancanaria I chose to break free from my Norwegian bubble and have a first-ever crack at some of the skyrunning races across Europe.
I was an unknown in skyrunning circles before taking part in the Mont Blanc Vertical Km and Mont Blanc Marathon races, but I surprised a lot of people by finishing third and fifth respectively against many of the world’s elite.
After that I joined Team inov-8 and did two further sky races (the 46km Matterhorn Ultraks and the 23km Limone Extreme).
I eventually finished ninth overall in the sky world series individual standings, helping inov-8 rank as third team. These experiences should stand me in good stead for this year’s Transgrancanaria race. What I must also do this weekend is stick to a race plan. Coming from a background of doing short uphill-only events and frantic cross-country skiing races, I find it hard not to blast out right from the start of a race. I know I need to pace my races better in 2014.
My training has gone well over the last four months. I was disappointed with my run in Limone back in October and decided to give my tired legs a good rest after a gruelling season. I returned to running in November and have been really fired-up since. Much of my training back home in Finnsnes has been over thick ice and deep snow. The grip of the inov-8 Oroc 340 shoe, with the tungsten carbide metal spikes in the outsole, has enabled me to train really hard over these difficult underfoot conditions. I have also been doing plenty of cross-country skiing, a sport in which I was a national junior champion in Norway.
This weekend I will be racing in the inov-8 Trailroc 245 shoes. I used these throughout 2013 too. They provide superb traction, especially over rocky ground, and underfoot protection from any sharp stones.
I will also use the new inov-8 Race Ultra Vest to carry all my kit and fluid. The vest fits perfectly to the body and doesn’t bounce at all. It is so light and comfortable it doesn’t feel like you are even wearing a pack! For clothing, I will wear the inov-8 Base Elite 160 SSZ, Race Elite 140 Trail Short and Race Elite 105 Windshell.