Dave always wanted to race on each continent, here is his latest challenge.
It has been a long held ambition of mine to participate in the Norseman – a race with the modest tagline – the ultimate triathlon challenge.on planet Earth.
It was with a mixture of fear and excitement that I woke at 2am on Saturday morning to eat my pre race porridge and then travel to the start. I boarded the car ferry at Eidfjord and sat inside the car deck with 270 triathletes from 26 countries. We steamed out at 4am into the darkness of the Hardanger fjord for an hour before leaping the 4 metres into the fjord and race start.(no risk of hitting the bottom some 200m below0. The swim was busy and a little surreal as we followed the red light on the tip of the lead boat guiding us back the 3.8k to Eidfjord.
Out of the water and into a busy transition. I was pleased to see that Pete one of my support crew had switched on my bike lights as I knew I would need these and my hi viz jacket. The first 40k of the bike was a steady uphill climb towards the largest plateau in Europe and took us through a couple of road tunnels one of which was 2k long and some foot tunnels lit only by oil lamps placed on the tunnel floor. It was like cycling through a grotto. A few hours later I reached the top where Pete and Adrian (support driver) helped me put on extra clothing and made sure I was carrying ample food and drink. (there are no water/feed stations in this race). The 60k ride across the plateau was into an easterly headwind but was certainly easier than that initial climb. Off the plateau and into the mountains. As I reached the first of 4 mountain climbs the rains came.and lights again became essential as the visibility plummeted. After crossing the final summit I then had an interesting 30k descent through the mist and rain. This section of the course is one that you tell your mates about but don’t share with your loved ones!
A combination of wet roads, potholes, reverse cambers and sheer drops make sure you keep both hands on the bars at all times.
Almost miraculously the sun came out just as I finished the bike and with the support of my crew changed into my run kit. The first 25k of the run was undulating and I was actually getting too warm by the time I reached the aptly named Zombie Hill. What then followed was an 8k severe climb taking in hairpin after hairpin. All the athletes had now slowed to walking pace and were allowed to proceed with their support crews walking with them. By now I was feeling less than sprightly and my earler efforts and advancing years were taking their toll. I reached the 32k check point before the 14 1/2 cut off time for the ascent to the radar mast but not in the top 160 (so missed out on the black T shirt). To be honest by now I was happy to still be breathing and moving forwards and completed the final 10k with an ugly mixture of walking, running and shuffling.
Finally across the finish line to be greeted by the race director with the words ‘Dave you are a Norseman’. 15 hours 52 minutes. I was the first over 60 across the finish line..but this is an empty boast as I was the oldest person in the race by some margin. All for a white T shirt and some lifetime memories.
A big thanks to my support crew for making it possible and Sally who has had to put up with my prolonged absences due to training and the worry about whether I would return in one piece!