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September 9, 2016 Comments (0) All Posts, Athlete Stories, Tips & Inspiration

Mountain Runner Races The Clock On Knife-Edge Ridge

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Eirik (right) on the summit of Breitinden with friends earlier this year.

On Saturday September 10, Eirik Haugsnes strapped on a GoPro and raced the clock up and down one of Norway’s most fearsome mountain ridges. He set a Fastest Known Time of 1hour 10mins 50secs for the full ascent and descent (sea level to summit and back to sea level) of the 1,003m tall Breitinden. The route taken included lots of steep, technical terrain and one particular knife-edge ridge that tested Eirik’s mountain running skills to the extreme. See below for Eirik’s video from the attempt, then scroll further down to read his pre-challenge blog post. Eirik wore our new X-Talon 225 running shoes on Breitinden.

Pre-challenge blog post: One of my goals this running season has been to set a strong Fastest Known Time (FKT) for running up and down Breitinden, the highest mountain on the Norweigean island of Senja. And finally I have found a weekend to fit it in – this weekend! The attempt will take place on either Saturday (September 10th) or Sunday (11th), depending on the weather.

Breitinden is a wild and beautiful mountain. It stands 1,003m tall and boasts spectacular views from its summit. You can see all of the hundreds of mountains that make up the northern part of Senja as well as amazing fjords complete with their hypnotising deep blue seas.

Senja is located in the northern part of Norway and is know as the ‘fairy tale island’ because of its fantastic nature. It has everything a mountain and nature lover would want from a day out. Crystal white beaches and beautiful blue seas (not for swimming as the sea is cold all year round) and then, shooting skywards from the waters, are some of the steepest, sharpest mountains you can imagine.

There is, to my knowledge, no previous FKT set for running either up, down or both up and down Breitinden. The explanation for this might be that no one has been stupid enough to try… or more probably that the culture of setting FKT’s is not as popular in this part of Norway. The people living on Senja are more accustomed to the sea than its steep mountains. Fishing (and now salmon farming) is by far the main industry. Saying that, more and more people have in recent years starting using the mountains for recreation.

When I first mentioned I wanted to set an FKT on Breitinden the reaction I got from people around me was certainly divided. Some really disliked the idea and didn’t understand why anyone would want to risk trying to run up and down such a steep-ridged mountain as fast as possible. I do not listen to these people. Then there are those who have really encouraged me. They ask me all about it and what time I think is possible for a full up-and-down attempt. I do listen to these people.

There was actually one guy that contacted me after I had first mentioned about a possible Breitinden FKT attempt on Facebook. He lives on the other side of the island and said the villagers there had been discussing how fast they thought someone could run up and down their own local mountain. He’s now invited me over to run the mountain see how fast I can do it. I think this shows that people in general are interested in, and curious to see, how quick a man or woman can climb a mountain or do a long run over a certain trail.

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Looking up at the final 600m of vertical ridge-line Breitinden ascent.

A fall either side from the mountain ridge is unthinkable

Back to Breitinden. The distance from the start on the coastline to the summit cairn is 3.7km with 1,003m of ascent. The first 2km is quite runnable but after that the fun really starts! First there is a really steep climb up a grassy and stony rise. Then, at 700m in altitude, you encounter a knife-edge ridge that leads you all the way to the summit. The ridge includes a couple of fierce scrambles, challenging both your balance and head for heights. A fall either side from the ridge is not something I ever really want to think about.

I’ve done several training runs on Breitinden so far this spring and summer (see my Instagram video above). I wanted to make sure I had a good feel for the mountain – and to check on my route choices – before the attempt. My shoe of choice for the run will be the X-Talon 225. It’s super-lightweight, fits like a glove and has deep rubber cleats that give me stellar grip on everything from grass to rocks.

I think the run up and down will take me about 70 minutes, though I want to go as fast as possible and set a time that others will struggle to beat. Have a great running weekend – and if you can, get out there and go set your own FKT!

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