Lets talk about fun (Iain)

Did you have a type 1 fun weekend? Or maybe it was type 2? Hopefully it wasn’t type 3!

I thoughtthe only thing that comes in types 1,2 or 3 is diabetes. That is until I read Mark Beaumont’s new book about his 80 day around the world cycle trip. In it he says the number one quality he requires in a support person is that they enjoy type 2 fun.

Fun can be categorised! Although categorising fun does seem to remove the fun from fun.

Type 1 Fun

This is fun that you experience whilst doing an activity and once you’ve finished it you still think of it as fun. For example, a post race pint of beer is fun. You’ll have fun drinking it and you’ll never regret it afterwards.

Type 2 Fun

This is fun that doesn’t feel like fun whilst you are doing it but afterwards you’ll be glad you did it. For example, if you don’t go for a pint before a race you might miss out on fun but when you wake up fresh the next day you’ll be glad you didn’t.

Type 3 Fun

This is fun that is miserable whilst you do it and afterwards you’ll wish you hadn’t done it. This is when you do go for a pint before a race and then have another and another…the next day you race with a hangover. You’ll hate it whilst doing it and afterwards you’ll wish you hadn’t done it.

The interesting thing about type 3 fun is that over time it can become type 2 because you might forget how miserable you felt and might actually be glad you did the race.

Most fun experts seem to stop at 3 types. I’d argue there is a fourth type

Type 4 Fun

Fun that is fun at the time but afterwards you’ll completely regret it. Which sums up any time I’ve been to Krispy Kreme.

Mmm….donut!

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Cocaine For The Nose (Andrew)

Sinex nasal spray is cocaine for the nose. Which means it’s just like cocaine in that it goes up your nose but, unlike cocaine, it’s good for you!

Not that I’ve ever had cocaine. But I watched Scarface and I know how it works. First, you get a pound of cocaine then you sniff it up your nose before gunning down a Mexican cartel and half the Miami police force.

Now, you can call me a square, but I don’t want to gun down no cartels, thank you very much. So, I’ve never touched the cocaine! Or the heroin! That’s worse – no sooner have you had some then you have to live in Edinburgh!

But Sinex. That’s cocaine for athletes (unless you’re British tennis player, Dan Evans, then cocaine is cocaine for athletes). One minute you’ve got a bit of cold. Maybe a blocked nose. Next thing you know, two squirts of Sinex up each nostril and you’re ready to take on the world.

I say two squirts but, I am legally required to say that you should only use one squirt. I use two because I have a big nose and have more snot to clear. Ordinary folk are medically recommended to only have one squirt.

Don’t abuse the Sinex, kids!

It’s great stuff and one I’ve had to use all last week after developing a bit of a cold on Tuesday. I say a bit of a cold but what I actually mean is… I WAS DYING!!!!!

And then it cleared up after a couple of days, so, false alarm, but you can’t be too careful when it comes to your health. And the NHS is free. So always go and see your doctor, even if you’ve recovered because, who knows, it might come back?!

(Don’t abuse the NHS, kids, unless you’re Jeremy Hunt then, stop abusing the NHS, Mr Hunt even though you’re now Foreign Secretary!)

Anyways, I had a cold this week. It was serious. I had a sniffle. And a cough. St Peter was ready to welcome me to Heaven but, don’t worry, I’m okay now.

And it was all thanks to Sinex. God bless, Sinex!

Norseman Training Plan (Iain)

This is my last post about Norseman. Normal blogs about any old nonsense will resume next week! Although reading Andrew’s latest post he seems to have started a week early. NOTE: He is wrong – Ryan Gosling is great. La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love and Bladerunner 2049 are all superb!

This is not the most interesting blog I’ve ever written but I thought I’d write it as it is something I looked for when I got my Norseman place – a Norseman training plan.

My aim was to complete not compete. I split my training into into two distinct parts

Part 1: Get fit (Jan 1st until 12 weeks to go) 

My base swim fitness was poor as I barely swam in the three months previous to January but but my swimming technique is good. I was confident I would quickly get my stamina back and that I wouldn’t need to work much on technique.

My base bike fitness was good for short rides. I was commuting to work by bike four days a week (15 miles per day) and I would occasionally ride 30/40 miles at a weekend.

My base run fitness was ok for short races. I could run 10k in 45 minutes and I’d run two or three times a week at lunchtimes.

For each discipline I created a schedule but deliberately didn’t put days against any session. I prefer to fit training into my week rather than fit my week into training. I also took the view that if I missed a session, I wouldn’t try and catch-up. I’d just continue as if I had done it. That way I wasn’t putting pressure on myself if plans went awry.

Running Schedule (per week)

1 x hill run – 4 miles comprising 3 laps of a hill.

1 x tempo run – 4 miles where I pushed myself to run above my normal pace

1 x recovery run – 4 miles easy pace on flat route

1 x long run – anything up to half marathon distance at an easy pace.

I commute to work by bike which meant I could do most of my bike training to or from work. My plan was to stick to my normal biking but to increase my mileage each month. As the weather was not great this winter/spring I added in some turbo sessions with a similar steady increase in time rather than distance.

Bike Schedule

In January I did 60 miles a week, in February I did 80, in March 100 etc

I stopped increasing it when I got to 120 miles as that was about as far as I could go with the free time I had available.

On the turbo in January I did one 45 minute sessions a week, in February I did an hour and  then in March I hour 30 minutes etc.

I stopped increasing the length when I got to two hours as any longer than that on a turbo was incredibly boring.

Swimming didn’t really happen. I had a plan to swim twice a week but didn’t do it. Instead my sechedule became

Swim Schedule

In April I started going to my triathlon club’s swimming session. This ws a 2K-ish weekly swim. I went most weeks until Norseman.

Part 2: Get Norseman fit

Part 1 got me fit enough to do part 2 which was to take my now increased base fitness and attempt to do longer rides/runs.

I based it on starting 12 weeks out from Norseman. I listed the one key thing I had to do each week in each discipline. I’d normally manage to run and bike outside of this BUT the priority was to do these. By only having thee key points I was able to fit them into my week. I also preferred time over distance as distance can be a cheat. A hilly 100 miler is different to flat 100 miler but five hours in the saddle is always five hours in the saddle.

Week Run Bike Swim
1 2hr run 5 hour 2k swim
2 2.5hr run 5 hour 2k swim
3 half marathon 2k swim
4 10K + half marathon 5 hour 2k swim
5 10k 5 hour 2k swim
6 2.5hr run 5 hour 2k swim
7 Easy week
8 HALF IRON MAN
9 Recovery week
10 2.5hr run 5 hour 2k swim
11 2.5hr run 5 hour 2k swim
12 1 hr 3 hour 2k swim
13 RACE

Final Result

I was 172nd in the swim with a time of 1 hr 21 min
I was 209th on the bike with a time of 8 hr 1 min
I was 41st/58th run (white tshirt) with a time of 6hr 13 min

SO I comfortably made the white shirt times and cutoff. I also felt fine all the way round. I wasn’t quick but I was steady.

Looking back at my plan I couldn’t have done much more based on the time I had available and the desire to still have a life outside of training.

The downside of my plan – I had low level anxiety for weeks leading up-to the race. Every day I’d wake up thinking what do I need to do today to get through the race? If I was to do it again I wouldn’t have that anxiety because I’d trust in my plan. I could have avoided this by having a coach but I hate being told what to do. A coach would have made me more anxious!

If you fancy giving it a go hopefully this post and the one about logistics will give you a good idea about how to do it.

The Patron Saint Of Uselessness (Andrew)

Every Jean Claude Van Damme film explains why he has a funny accent. He’s French. He’s Belgium. He was raised in the bayou by wolves. It’s the same for Ryan Gosling – except in every film they explain why he can’t act. Let’s look at the evidence…

  • Bladerunner 2049. He can’t act ’cause he’s a robot.
  • La La Land. He can’t act ’cause he’s too obsessed by jazz.
  • The Place Beyond The Pines. He can’t act ’cause he’s dead.
  • Crazy Stupid Love. He can’t act ’cause he’s busy working on his abs.
  • Drive. He can’t act ’cause he’s got a cool jacket.
  • Half Nelson. He can’t act ’cause he’s on crack.
  • The Notebook. He can’t act ’cause you can’t tell the difference between Ryan Gosling and the timber he uses to build a dream house!

In short, unless you’re looking to remake Lord of the Rings and need someone to play a tree, Ryan Gosling can’t act.

But that doesn’t stop him from trying. And that perseverance is something we can all admire as we can’t run, swim or ride a bike we keep trying anyway.

So, God bless you, Ryan Gosling, you’re an inspiration to the hopeless everywhere!

Dream On Review (Andrew)

Last week someone recommended that I read ‘Dream On’ by John Richardson, the story of how one hopeless golfer tried to become a brilliant golfer in just 12 months.

He set himself a challenge – he would play a perfect round of golf. He’d shoot a level par round – a round of 18 holes where he equalled or bettered the course score without the help of any extra strokes. The only problem he had was that he started the year as a hopeless golfer who needed 20 extra strokes or more to get round.

Did he do it? Normally in these types of books the pleasure of reading it is to find out whether the author was successful… or not…

But, spoiler alert…

The author gives the game away in the first few chapters by randomly including a sentence starting with “After I did it…”

Thanks, John or your sub-editor for that one!

Apart from that, and a minor quibble that it would have been interesting to see some of his training logs so as to see the work required, what did I learn from it and how could it apply to triathlon – it’s not about the glamour

John made the mistake for most of his training of concentrating on his first shot – the drive. He wanted to hit the ball further and faster and with a bigger THWACK than anyone else. The drive is what impresses you’re playing partners and your club mates. It’s the most visible part of being a good golfer. The big shot from the tee.

However, for over six months he didn’t practice at all at putting. The sedate cousin of driving. There’s no big swing. No THWACK. It’s a gentle motion that seemingly requires no skill even though holing a long putt is one of the main things every golf programme focuses on in their daily highlights. It’s the glamour shot no one notices.

Yet, for John, it was only when he started to concentrate on his putting that his score started to improve because isn’t just one skill, it’s multiple skills. You need to be able to drive, you need to be able to hit a long iron for your second shot, you need to pitch short shots around the green and then you need to put. Also you need to keep all your womanising quiet, but that’s just Tiger Woods.

It’s the same for triathlon. The skills bit. Not the womanising bit. Triathlon is a mix of skills. From swimming to cycling to running and the all important getting your wet suit off really quickly in transition without falling over.

Yet, in order to improve, do we spend the same amount of time on all four parts?

If you’re anything like me then you concentrate on the bits that are easy – the running and cycling – and work less on the bits that are hard – swimming faster or further. In order to improve we need to concentrate on all parts.

Which seems obvious but it’s worth repeating because it’s easy to get seduced by the quick fixes that triathlon offers. A new wet suit, a faster bike, when all that matters is concentrating on the basics. Swim technique, pedalling and moving your feet faster for long than you did before.

Oh, and not falling over when trying to pull your wetsuit of your legs.

Anyway, all this came to mind because, in other news, Iain’s bought a time trial bike and he thinks it’ll make him faster and he’ll finally beat me. Well, all I can say to that is “Dream on!”.

Norseman – Logistics (Iain)

If you are thinking of doing Norseman and you’re based in the UK then its worth knowing the logistics of how to get there and back and how much it’ll cost. Whatever figure you’re thinking of, double it and then add a bit. That’ll be the figure you actually spend!

Flight (£700)

There was only two direct flights to Norway from Scotland when I booked. The choice was either Aberdeen to Bergen, or Edinburgh to Oslo.

The closest Airport to the start in Eidfjord is Bergen but the closest airport to the finish in Rjukan is Oslo.

I’d rather have a short drive after the race than before so I booked Oslo. I also live much closer to Edinburgh Airport than Aberdeen.

The flight was 2 hours but the wait in the airport for luggage was at least 90 minutes!! My luggage could have flown most of the way back in the time it took to arrive.

Most airports don’t allow bags to be left unattended but in Oslo not only was there unattended luggage strewn all over the place there was also unattended cats and dogs.

We paid £700 for three return flights to Oslo (2 x extra luggage and 1 x bike box)

Car (£410)

I hired an estate car so that their would be enough room for everyone and the bike.

Last time I was in Norway I wrote:

We enter the destination as Eidfjord. The GPS thinks for a minute and then tells us it’ll take five hours. Nonsense! We’ll be there way before then. I was right. It was wrong. It took longer.

Driving in Norway is slow. Cars barely ever go above 50 kmph and even rarer do they overtake.

This may partly be due to their being barely a straight road between Oslo and Eidfjord. It may also be due to speed limits that I have unintentionally broken throughout the Journey.

I decided this time we’d only drive half way to Eidfjord rather than do the whole journey in one go.

Cost was £410 plus the cost of one and half tanks of petrol which is probably at least another £100.

 Accommodation (£610)

We needed 5 nights of accommodation. One to cover the first night when we only drove half way to Eidfjord. Then two nights in Eidfjord before the race, one night at the finsh and one night before catching the plane.

Night 1 (£140):  3 bed apartemnt in Geilo https://www.booking.com/hotel/no/ustedalen-resort-apartment.en-gb.html

This was a great place. It was very quiet and recently refurbished. We had dinner in a local restaurant and I apologise to Santa but I eat Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It was one of the best dinners I ever had. The red nose was the tastiest bit! The only downside was the cost. Three main meals, two deserts, two beers and a coke came to £140! I blame brexit!

All the food in Norway was amazingly tasty. If the food didn’t bring tears to your eyes to your eye then the bill almost certainly will. There’s no such thing as a free meal here.

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Me with all my pals.

Night 2/3: £150 (3 bed airbnb in ovre eidfjord https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/21688216)

I was told to phone a number to let the host know we’d arrived. I did. There was no answer. I tried again and again and again. There was still no answer. Eventually we found a woman waling the street and it turned out she was the owner. She said she hadn’t received our calls. How strange!

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The place was a bit of a dump. I think it must have been converted from a shop as the layout was strange and the lighting was that strip lighting you only see in department stores where they don’t want any dark bits in case you use the shadows to steal stuff!

It was fine for out purpose ie it was close enough to Eidfjord to get to the ferry on time but it isn’t somewhere you’d book if you were after a romantic getaway.

Night 4:  £70 (one bedroom hotel in Rjukan Gjestehus https://www.booking.com/hotel/no/rjukan-gjestehus.en-gb.html) £100 (2 bed room hotel in Rjukan Hytteby https://www.booking.com/hotel/no/rjukan-hytteby.en-gb.html)

Andrew has already discussed his accommodation in the previous blog. I stayed in a holiday park chalet. Its a great place with a brilliant onsite cafe. The pizza’s are amazing! If you’re doing Norseman try to get booked here.

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Night 5: £150 two rooms at Best Western Oslo Airport Hotel

Just after we checked in a fire alarm went off. It was a chilly evening so I put on a jacket before leaving the building. There was about hundred people outside, everyone had wrapped up warm except one man – he was naked except for a pair of pants. I bet he was fully clothed when the alarm went off but thought to himself  – this is an opportunity to get naked. Nobody will complain and I’ll have the perfect excuse.

The hotel is very convenient for the airport as its only a 5 minute drive away. It also does a great breakfast. Unlimited waffles!

Food(£I don’t want to know)

The food was excellent wherever we went but it was also very expensive. I haven’t the courage to check my bank statement to see how much it all cost but budget to spend at least double what you do in the UK for similar meals.

Other (£200)

It’s hard to go a race and not buy the t-shirt, the cycling top, the yellow duck dressed as a minion with a Norseman tattoo! Tths was genuinely this was for sale and Andrew bought one. Due to the exchange rate everything was at least a third more than the equivalent UK product but worth it to have a reminder of the day…except the duck. That was just burning money!

Overall (£1920 + food cost)

A famous quote says travel is the only thing you’ll spend money on but come back richer for doing so. They obviously have never been to Norway. You may have great experiences but you will definitively feel very, very poor!

Top Tips For Norseman Support Teams (Andrew)

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the union of swim, bike and run…”

With these words the race director opened the Norseman briefing the day before the race. However, he missed one important element. Triathlon is not just the union of swimming, cycling and running, it’s also the union of athlete and supporter. The race is unsupported by the organisers so every athlete needs their own team on course to feed them, clothe them, pick up their swimsuit and bike after them and generally support them throughout.

And, after 18 hours, here’s what I learned:

  1. Accommodation – It’s an early start. Athletes must be on the ferry by 4am. If you don’t want to be getting up the day before then finding accommodation near the start in Eidfjord is vital. Top tip though – if you do find accommodation make sure it has curtains. Mine didn’t and I now know how hard it is to get to sleep in a country where the sun rises in April and sunset is October. Groan. So, so tired…
  2. Nutrition – the athlete will get hungry and will start to demand every food type they can think of in order to escape the monotony of their twentieth energy gel. “Bring me a steak sandwich!”, “I want a black forest gateaux!”, “Where’s my swan!”. A good alternative to energy gels is a small bit of grated cheese. The flavour will reset their tastebuds and provide a contrast to the rest of what they eat. Top tip though – don’t store the grated cheese in a plastic bag in the car. It will soon become a big ball o’melted cheese.
  3. Timing – there is no need to rush out of Eidfjord when athletes leave the first transition. Unless they’re eventual Norseman winner Allan Hovda, it’ll take your athlete at least an hour to clear the first climb and for them to reach the start of the route where support is allowed. Have a nap! Have some breakfast! Let the traffic clear! Then follow them up the mountain!
  4. Decoration – Personalise your car with the athlete’s face. Allan Hovda did but we didn’t but then have you seen Iain’s face?!?!?
  5. Amusement – If/when it’s sunny, taunt the athlete with a Magnum. They won’t appreciate it and that’s what will make it funny.ptr
  6. Stocking up – there’s not many places to stock up with food and drink between Eidfjord and Zomebie Hill. It’s important you make the most of each stop by learning Norwegian. That might sound like a big effort just to buy extra supplies in the local Spar but, trust us, when you buy sparking water and not still water because you can’t read the label and the athlete is expecting Norway’s answer to Evian, you’ll thank us for this tip.
  7. Fellowship – Remember to cheer the other athletes until… you realise it’s the same ones passing every time on the run route. Then remember you have something to check in the car so you don’t need to shout “Good luck!” for the tenth time that hour.
  8. Fellowship – Remember to give the other athletes names too. Shout out in particular to Nic Cage, who was the spitting image of Nic Cage, the Walking Dead, who we were sure died on the bike but was still shuffling along the run route bent over and doubled up, and Stephen, who’s actual name was Thomas and who was always just behind Iain, but we got his name wrong once and it then just stuck. Go Stephen!
  9. Photography – Take lots of pictures. Particularly of the athlete changing and looking hot, sweaty, beat or depressed. When they complete the race and two years later they are still going on about it, you’ll have the perfect blackmail material to keep them quiet.
  10. Photography 2 – Top tip, don’t use a zoom lens near transition 1. You never know what you will see through it as everyone seems to ignore the “Keep Yer Pants On, Dear God, Man!” policy.
  11. Clothing – only someone wearing the official supporters t-shirt can enter transition. At the briefing they said their would be two t-shirts for each team however the race pack only contained one. We never found out which was correct. One t-shirt or two. But, check your pack when you pick it up and check with the volunteers that you have the right number.
  12. Timing – there are some sections of the bike route which are very fast and cyclists are almost going as fast as the cars. Or at least that’s our excuse for when Iain arrived at the second transistion 30 seconds before we did.
  13. Rjuken – don’t try and check in to your hotel while the athlete climbs Zombie Hill it takes much longer than you think to drive through town and back up the hill. Though it was good to see the room had curtains…
  14. Rjuken 2 – … and only half a double bed…
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  16. Rjuken 3 – … and the toilet had a lock on the outside of the door. Why? Who’s going to lock you in??!??
  17. Rjuken 4 – Basically, don’t stay at the Ryuken GuestHus…
  18. Enjoy it – the day flys by. You get a front row seat of 250 inspiring people who battle on no matter how hard it gets and you get to see lots of brilliant bits of Norway.
  19. Crisps – also you can eat crisps in your car all day. Mmmmm, crisps!ptfbty

I am a Norseman 2018! (Iain)

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INTRO

Norseman is point-to-point (or fjord to peak) race starting at sea level, with a four meter drop off a ferry into a fjord. It comprises a 3.8k swim to the beautiful town of Eidfjord, then a hilly bike leg (3.5K elevation) crossing Hardangervidda mountain plateau, and finally a marathon run to the top of the 1850m peak of Gaustatoppen.

The race is limited to 250 competitors of which 160 finish at the mountain peak and the rest finish at the town below the summit. The originator of the event describes the race perfectly:

“I wanted to create a completely different race, make it a journey through the most beautiful nature of Norway, let the experience be more important than the finish time, and let the participants share their experience with family and friends, who will form their support. Let the race end on top of a mountain, to make it the toughest full distance triathlon on planet earth”.

I have only ever cycled a 100 mile bike ride twice before. The last time was IronMan UK back in 2015. I had never done a non-stop 3.8K swim. My only two times doing so had involved loops with an Australian exit. I also had not ran a marathon since IronMan UK.

Basically I prefer shorter events.

Despite this I’d always wanted to do Norseman. I think it’s the jump off the ferry start that attracted me. I grew up on an island and regularly travelled by ferry to the mainland. It was a very boring journey and I used to joke with my brother that one of us should jump off just to add some excitement to the trip.

I decided from the beginning that my aim was a white t-shirt so I wouldn’t have to worry about how fast to race. I would instead concentrate on being fit enough to do the distances.

Swim (1hr 22 min)

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The race starts at 0500 which meant getting up at 0230 to catch the 0400 ferry. What they do not show you on the videos of the event is that the ferry has a very comfortable TV lounge. I sat and read a book on my Kindle. It helped keep my mind off the race.

At 0445 I went down stairs and entered the water using what could only be described as a belly flop. I didn’t see many other people use this technique. Possibly because upon entry most of the fjord ended up on the ferry.

It was a short swim to the start line. I’d swam the previous day in skins so wearing a wet suit meant this felt tropical in comparison.

I kept a steady pace for the swim. It was very easy to sight the route. I kept the land 20m to the side of me and followed the coastline back to town. Occasionally the water would get very cold. I suspect that was the points streams were entering the fjord.

I reached the exit and stood up and promptly fell face first back into the water! I always struggle with staying upright after a swim. I paused for a minute and then tried again. Thankfully this time I stayed up.

I ran into transition and was met by Nic. She said she’d won a bet with Andrew as she thought I’d be out in 80 minutes. He thought it would be at least 90.

BIKE (8 hr 10 min)

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Campsie Hills

The bike leg starts with a 40K climb. I’d broken all the climbs down into units of measurement known as “crow roads” The Crow Road is a climb starting at the back of my house up the side of the Campsie Hills.

I find cycling more manageable if I break objectives down into things I know I can do. The first climb is five Crow Roads. Similarly, for the flatter section I’d think of in terms of how many commutes to work it would be. My normal commute to work is a 8 mile cycle so when cycling the plateau I’d calculate how many commutes to the next town.

This made the experience manageable but I do not particularly enjoy long bike rides so its always a struggle to enjoy it. My support team said I was like a stroppy teenager. One minute I’d be demanding a banana but then as soon as they got one I’d say “Why’d you get me a banana. I wanted an apple!”

Because I don’t ride long distances often enough I also struggle to refuel on the bike. I prefer to stop at a cake shop and enjoy a break so I did the same here and enjoyed a particularly good bakewell tart from a shop in Geilo.

Other food delights on the bike (other than gels and bars) were a Twix, a chocolate brownie and an ice lolly which I refused to take as even I have limits of what should be eaten in race!

RUN (6hr 3 min)

My aim was to get to the bottom of Zombie Hill in 2hrs-ish and then walk from there. The great thing is from that point I could have a support runner. I was really looking forward to having someone to speak to but after my stroppiness they probably weren’t looking forward to speaking to me!

I made it to Zombie Hill in good time and thankfully Nic was pleased to see me. She’d filled a bag with food so we were good to go. I felt good so we were able to walk quickly. I’d cycled zombie hill a few years previously o I knew roughly what to expect when climbing. That made it easier to do.

Thankfully I was not in the top 160 so I got to head to the village rather than the summit.

The village finish is 10 laps of a hotel complex. There’s a great atmosphere as competitors finish, music blares out and Norwegians wave flags.


I was happy to cross the finish line in under 16 hours as I was desperate to get to the pizza place in Rjukan before it closed 🙂

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CONCLUSION

Norseman is the ultimate triathlon experience because its about sharing the journey with friends and family. We all had a great time in Norway with experiences that’ll last a lifetime.

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