Norway’s maiden skyrace was trail running at its most fierce with super-technical, knife-edge ridges and 4400m of elevation gain crammed into 43k
Last weekend saw Norway stage its maiden skyrace. To win it was a huge honour, especially as it was over the same mountains I first discovered my passion for trail running 11 years ago. The Tromsø Skyrace was founded by Kilian Jornet and Emilie Forsberg, both well known names in the trail running community. The course they devised was a really tough one, covering 43k and including a mammoth 4400 meters of elevation. Over some parts of the course there was no paths to follow, only markings, and there was lots of super-technical, knife-edge ridge running.
Competing in a skyrace in Norway felt very special – all of us were pioneers
All the runners taking part in the Tromsø Skyrace were pioneers and as we gathered on the start line there was a feeling that we were about to embark on something very special. Personally, I felt like I was on home ground. One of the mountains we had to climb twice, Tromsdalstinden (1228m), rises high above where I live. Every year there is an uphill race to the summit of Tromsdalstinden, and it was in this race in 2003 that I first discovered I had a talent for running up mountains. Unsurprisingly then, it is one of my favourite mountains in the world. The run up to its rugged summit and the panoramic view if offers over the city of Tromsø below is something I will never grow bored of.
I always feel good when running on Tromsdalstinden, and last Saturday was no exception. I felt good from the start of the race and passing the summit for the first time I held a joint lead with Norwegian uphill running champion Stian Hovind Angermund. The pace was fast, but I was not suffering at all. On the long, steep and technical downhill from Tromsdalstinden I managed to open up a lead. As I hit the aid station I contemplated waiting for the others but then discovered my lead was already up to two minutes so I pushed on alone.
The grip of the x-talon 212s gave me the confidence to attack the wet, exposed ridge and run fast
The next section of the race involved a brutal 1400m climb to the summit of Hamperokken (1404m). This ascent included 4k of a super-technical and demanding ridge running. It was an amazing experience to race both up and down such a spectacular, exposed ridge. The stones and rocks were both wet and slippery but the grip on my inov-8 x-talon 212 shoes gave me the confidence to attack the ridge and run fast. By the time I reached the summit of Hamperokken I had extended my lead to almost six minutes.
Then came the second climb back to the summit of Tromsdalstinden. I really had to work hard on this ascent. I kept a good pace, while also trying to reserve a little bit of energy for what was still to come. I descended the mountain before tackling the final climb to the finish line on Fløya (450m). I felt really strong over the latter sections of the race and was able to extend my lead further. I crossed the finish line in a time of 6hrs 38mins 30secs, well clear of second-placed runner Ola Hovdenak. To win Norway’s first-ever skyrace, and to do so on home ground, was really sweet for me. I received lots of congratulations from spectators and friends, and felt really proud when the presentations were made. The Tromsø Skyrace was a big success and I have my fingers crossed that it can be included in the skyrunning world series in the future.