| Inspirational Races in Beautiful Places
Sun Aug 17, 2014 2:51 pm la marquise
Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 2014
As the New Year rolled in and the chimes of Big Ben were still echoing from Radio 4, I received a message from Dag, Norseman General Manager, inviting us to be part of the Norseman Crew. We were in Yippee! That really got our year off to a cracking start. As we both have a lot of experience of Norseman (competing and supporting) and have helped organise many sporting activities, we were both deemed suitable crew members.
Those who know Spike and me, know that Spike does the racing and I do all the organising. And, boy, do I organise Immediately I could add items to my Things To Do list:
From previous experience with SAS, I decided to fly with BA, as they accept bike bags as hold baggage without question, so that was a relatively easy decision. We flew to and from Oslo, as the journey from Gaustablikk to Oslo is significantly shorter than to Bergen.
I checked out all the usual car hire firms for an eleven day rental. Some of the quotes were astronomical. After lots of comparisons, noting additional fees for extra drivers, unlimited mileage etc etc I found Rent-A-Wreck, who were significantly cheaper than all the others, with no hidden extras.
Based on flight times, I reckoned that we could manage a couple of hours driving along the route after arriving on the Thursday afternoon. We arrived at Oslo airport expecting to find our car hire firm in the same area as all the others. Wrong. After chasing through a chain of mobile numbers I eventually spoke to Kristian, who described where the car was located in the Short Term Car Park and where the key was hidden. Eventually we were installed in a rather comfy Mazda 6. It’s a quite big car with surprisingly good suspension. We were Eidfjord-bound.
I certainly recommend booking a cabin at Stavn campsite to anyone needing accommodation along this route. Showers and loos were spotless, with all the little things included such as loo roll, soap and paper towels, so you didn’t have to bring a wash kit with you every time you needed a pee.
Having brought all the ingredients with us, we cooked up a storming vegetable risotto, and slept well. You know how I mentioned that I’m the organiser? Well, when I went to pay cash for the accommodation, the lady looked at me a little strangely.
“That isn’t Norwegian money” she said,
as I confidently extracted some notes from my bag of kroner.
Which muppet had picked up the remains of our Ö Till Ö money from our trip to Sweden?
On Friday morning we bought lunch stuff at Geilo and enjoyed a picnic on the Hardangervidda plateau in the sunshine. On arriving at Eidfjord, the race start town, we located Bergslein. This is the guesthouse that is, effectively, Norseman HQ. The owner, Liv, is charming and helpful, and is unnervingly similar in appearance to one of our cyclo-cross friends, so I had to always resist the urge to call her Sara.
As part of the crew, you can participate in the Crew Race, one week before the proper race. The Crew Race follows exactly the same course as the real race, but you jump into the fjord from some rocks, rather than a ferry. If you’re within the cut-off times, you get to finish at the top of Gausta and claim your black t-shirt.
A little diversion about t-shirts: If you win (male or female) the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, you win a black t-shirt, as do all the other athletes who meet the necessary cut-offs and climb to the summit of Gaustatoppen at 1800m. Those who do not reach the 32km point of the marathon inside the time and quota limits, complete the distance at 1100m with the finish line in the ski village of Gaustablikk. These people win a white t-shirt. White t-shirts can show off a tan better than black ones. Norseman is all about t-shirts: if you get five black T’s, you are awarded a green T. One man, Jan Wilhelm Werner, has a pink t-shirt for 10 blacks. So by 2012 Spike already had a green t-shirt (and six blacks), but thinks that pink would suit him well.
Through the afternoon more crew members rolled up and introductions were made. We were by no means the only new crew members. Spike and I got stuck into the pre-race favourite meal - spag bol. I was particularly proud of the parmesan shavings. After a long delay caused by cows in the road , Kalle Jensen, the Race Director, arrived at 8pm and gave a brief pre-crew-race-briefing. In return for use of a track pump, we agreed to give Ole from Trondheim a lift to the start, allowing his wife to have an extra couple of hours’ kip.
Spike and I packed up most of our gear, leaving a couple of bags to be kept at Bergslein, ready for our return.
The advantage of participating in the Crew Race is that you can lie in till 3:30am. Luxury. I drove Spike and Ole along the side of the fjord till we saw Kalle’s van in a layby.
A van and some cars
It is fair to say that the level of razzamatazz was economical. Nine crew members followed Kalle as he led them down the steep bank, then jumped into Hardangerfjord.
l-r: Irene, Jan-Sigurd, Ole, Kai, Spike, Geir, Ole Jacob, Tommy - so I guess this pic was taken by Jonny
The Crew Race was on.
I drove back to Eidfjord and set up T1 for Spike outside Quality Hotel. I nipped back to Bergslein to pack the car and readied myself for Norseman Support mode. Spike swam in with Jonny Hisdal, one of the race doctors, in third/fourth position.
Probably a swimming troll:
Oh. It's Spike clambering up to T1
Jonny in T1
“The favourite swim of my life” declared a beaming Spike.
I really didn’t understand this notion that jumping into a fjord at 5am could be in any way enjoyable.
Once he was on his bike, my next job was to get to the lay-by just before the Måbø tunnel. In past years, the athletes could cycle along the old tourist road which winds around the side of the mountains, while the support crews drive through the tunnels. However, a recent rock slide had taken out a large chunk of the road by this tunnel and the police have banned all use of this part of the cycle route as they are expecting more rock falls. It would put a downer on your day if a large rock were to fall on your head. Also, bikes are now banned from using the Måbø tunnel, much to the annoyance of several Eidfjord residents, but the police had given us a special dispensation for the Crew Race and the actual race. For the Crew Race each cyclist had to be followed by a support car. This tunnel is approximately two kilometres long on a steady uphill gradient. For me, this was the low point of the day.
Just as Petter followed Ole Jacob into the tunnel, a car screamed in behind and I heard the squealing of brakes. I held my breath till another car emerged from the tunnel, implying that there had been no crash.
Spike on the old Tourist Road:
When Spike came across the picturesque bridge and entered the tunnel I tagged in behind him. I could hear a car coming from behind, so put on the hazard lights for a few seconds. This successfully alerted the approaching car, who slowed down. But he couldn’t wait, and overtook in the tunnel. We had been advised not to let anyone pass, but I really don’t know how I could have stopped him. Spike powered on, out of the saddle, to get through this ordeal as quickly as possible. Towards the end of the tunnel another pair of cars followed me. Fortunately they waited till we were in daylight before overtaking. Phew. That was over.
When supporting Spike at Norseman in previous years, once he was cycling I would drive the forty kilometres straight to the top of the first mountain to the glory that is Breakfast at Dyranut. However, with only eight athletes on the road, I decided to offer more support as there were fewer people around to help in the event of a problem. In any case, had I arrived earlier I would have been disappointed, as the café didn’t open till 8am. The owner, an enthusiastic Norseman supporter, hadn’t realised that it was Crew Race day. Anyway, we were soon feasting on pancakes and smoked salmon In the beverage department I stuck to two mugs of tea, of which half a mug was stolen by a guy in red and black on a bike. Grrr. If I catch him he’ll know about it
Ole’s wife, Sissel, asked whether Spike was doing OK. With confidence I replied
“It’s a sunny day in Norway and he’s riding up mountains. I can guarantee he’s happy.”
And he was.
Once Spike was sorted, I headed for Geilo, the halfway point in the bike leg. I could feel the need for more caffeine and was directed to a coffee shop up two flights of stairs behind the supermarket. I got my special Norseman mug, © Cleo of this parish, filled with good smelling coffee, and just took small sips of it at each stop. Spike also took a generous portion, thus saving me from a crazy caffeine caper.
Kai at Geilo:
Jonny at Geilo:
At this stage Spike was in third place, behind Jonny and Kai, another race doctor. I was aware that Ole Jacob, Jan-Sigurd and Tommy (next year’s Race Director) were only a little way behind as their support cars were parking up by me.
Kai has breakfast at Geilo:
Spike is happy:
At the top of Dagali, the morning sun warmed me through sufficiently for me to change into shorts.
Immingfjell was bathed in glorious sunshine.
Spike is still happy:
Jonny gets running support on the false flat after Immingfjell:
Kalle took a dip in the lake by the dam. I had never seen such beautiful conditions for Norseman. I headed for T2 as the last twenty kilometres of the bike route are fast and pretty much downhill. At Austbygde (T2) I found Kari and Kim, two Norseman Crew stalwarts, taking a dip in the inviting lake. Wow. This was a sunny day. It was really getting rather hot…
Jonny was ahead. Kai was taking a short rest. Jan-Sigurd set off from T2 a couple of minutes after Spike. Did I mention that, on the one day in history when Norway was officially hot, we had a car with bust air conditioning? One of the prices paid for choosing Rent-A-Wreck.
After about six kilometres I pulled in at a Spar and bought a couple of ice lollies. The first athlete to whom I offered the sweet, cold sustenance was Kai, who refused the ice as his stomach wouldn’t handle it. He had gone through a pretty low patch early in the run, but was now starting to pick up again, chasing down Jonny.
Kai gets a wiggle on:
Jan-Sigurd realised that the lolly was a gift from the gods and accepted it enthusiastically. Spike wasn’t sure, but took it anyway. Three minutes later he declared it a brilliant idea. Water, sugar and cold aren’t bad race nutrition on a steaming hot day.
By the nine kilometre mark the ratio of walking to running started to increase. After thirteen kilometres even the slightest incline was sufficient reason to walk.
Phew what a scorcher.
The increase in walking did have a positive side effect. When not running, Spike could eat. He took on significantly more nutrition at this stage than in previous races, which I’m sure helped him as the day progressed. I had a Tupperware container with enticing piles of orange segments, and bite size pieces of banana.
Spike does a poor impression of a runner:
Spike kept expecting to be overtaken by Jan-Sigurd – but each time he turned back for a peek, Jan-Sigurd was the same distance behind, also struggling with the heat.
Jan Sigurd trying to remember cooler happier times:
After fifteen kilometres, by the Kongsberg turn, I was concerned that my fifteen litre water container was getting warm and was being used faster than anticipated.
Jan Sigurd and Spike appear to be racing in different directions:
Kari and Kim, who kept apparating (Harry Potter style) to cheer everyone on, advised me that there was a campsite just before the turn at Rjukan. I drove ahead and found the place. There were signs everywhere indicating that the water was for the use of campsite patrons only. I could have just helped myself, but decided to be polite. In reception I explained the situation and offered to pay for filling up my water container. They suggested I bought some little bottles of water at a ‘special’ Norwegian price. I described that the athletes had water bottles for running, and I needed ‘about five’ litres of tap water. I then saw they sold ice lollies. I offered to buy one. After a brief discussion the lady said that if I bought a lolly, I was welcome to fill my water container. The deal was done. I tipped out some lukewarm Eidfjord water and refilled with fresh, cold Rjukan water. Spike was more than happy to have another lolly.
I thought that a greater variety of nutrition was required, so emptied the contents of the bike bento box into the fruit container. Spike could now feast on salted cashews and jelly babies. As the cashews ran out I added salted peanuts.
Onward and upward - Spike knows what's ahead:
At the bottom of Zombie Hill, Jan-Sigurd had nearly caught Spike, so they walked up together. I hoped that Cobbie wouldn’t be hurt by this obvious two-timing, in the exact same spot where Spike and he had bonded a few years earlier.
Grethe, Jan-Sigurd’s partner, spotted a small waterfall at the side of the road. They had only met the night before, but Spike and Jan-Sigurd were already sharing waterfall showers in an effort to cool their bodies down.
The temperature was now 35°C
Kristina, Ole Jacob’s wife, soon joined us. When Ole Jacob caught up the three athletes worked together and encouraged each other up the mountain.
Time for man talk:
The box of food was now a disgusting pile of banana-peanut-orange-jellybaby-cashew mush, which Spike enthusiastically ate by the fistful. Yes, as many as six or seven nuts in a go. Unbelievable.
Athletes must reach the thirty two kilometre point within fourteen and a half hours of racing in order to continue up the mountain to claim a black t-shirt. All three of our stooges were well within this (by a couple of hours), but Jan-Sigurd was suffering badly from heat exhaustion, and lay down for a little rest, while Ole Jacob and Spike marched onward and upward.
Spike and Ole Jacob yack on:
At Stavsro they donned the mandatory mountain kit and Kristina accompanied them both into the mountain proper.
I went straight to Gaustablikk, the ski village where we were all staying that night. On the road I saw Jan-Sigurd, vertical again, pushing towards the mountain entrance, followed by fellow crew members Geir and then Irene. Irene put the Cheshire Cat to shame, her face was one massive grin. Her radiant smile made me intensely happy.
In the resort I found our room, sorted the car and kit and wallowed in the shower. Dag and Kalle were already relaxing with a beer.
On setting off into the mountain wilderness, a familiar face greeted Spike – it was only Mr Norseman himself, the man to blame for this madness, Hårek Stranheim, out for a stroll.
Spike and Ole Jacob nearly there:
Spike and Ole Jacob reached the hut at Gaustatoppen fifteen hours and thirty minutes after jumping into the fjord that morning.
Ah, how sweet. Spike and Ole Jacob holding hands:
The heat had probably slowed them down by about an hour.
The café was shut, so after a couple of minutes they started heading down, meeting Jan-Sigurd, Geir and Irene still climbing up, on the descent to the car park. Mission accomplished.
Kristina brought they guys back to Gaustablikk. Sleeping was done. After an excellent breakfast, the crew t-shirts were presented: seven blacks, two whites and nine big smiles.
New besties: Spike and Ole Jacob sport the latest look:
Geir is happy:
Spike and a radiant Irene:
Spike and I headed back towards Eidfjord and spent the night by Voringfoss waterfall, at the Fossli Hotel, which is caught in a 1930’s time warp.
In the Gang
Reinstalled in Bergslein, the race preparation was calm. After collecting the race gear from the secret bunker storeroom, we attempted to match banners with their flagpoles.
I proudly raised the power flags outside Bergslein.
The race was in town.
Some banners had metal stands, rather than spikes that can be hammered into the ground. The stands were not sufficiently stable to withstand the predicted weather, so Spike and I were tasked with finding a solution. Quite reasonably, the lady at the local builders’ merchant didn’t speak English. We were probably the only non-Norwegian speakers to frequent her establishment in the last twenty years. However, sadly, she appeared to be embarrassed about this, so wasn’t too helpful and we left empty handed I was rather disappointed that we had failed in our first quest. Would we be entrusted with another challenge, or be fed to the trolls?
On Monday afternoon, Line Amlund Hagen, the third member of the Norseman ruling triumvirate with Dag and Kalle, announced that we’d be going for a swim at 6pm. I don’t mind the occasional swimble – a few lengths in the pool or splashing in the waves at the beach. But getting into a fjord is a rather different kettle of fish. I don’t have a wetsuit, so made my early exit strategy clear from the start, predicting a dip not exceeding thirty seconds.
We drove along to the preferred jetty, where I gingerly lowered myself into the water. After the initial shock that I had actually got in, I realised that the temperature was not freezing. I swam around the jetty for a couple of minutes. What was happening? It felt gorgeous. With Dave and Line close by, I swam to the next jetty and back – about five hundred metres in total. I was in the water for about thirty minutes, rather than the previously envisaged thirty seconds. I absolutely loved it.
This new experience was exhilarating. I was avoiding some of the cold water risks:
• I was relaxed, not racing,
• I entered the water slowly, allowing my body to gradually adjust to the temperature,
• I was mainly doing breast stroke, keeping my head out of the water, to enjoy the scenery, and
• I, unfortunately, have a more than generous layer of sub-cutaneous lard to insulate my organs. In fact the fat is positively hugging my torso.
All the same, having read Jonny Hisdal’s reports http://www.nxtri.com/race_info/the_swim about the risks relating to cold water swimming, I now understand that safety dictates the need for a wet suit.
I could barely wait for 8am the next morning when we all jumped off the local jetty for a thirty second wake up dip.
On Tuesday afternoon, Dag asked whether I would be willing to introduce the Pre-Race Briefing on Friday afternoon. The organisers were keen to have a native English speaker at the briefing as many of the audience don’t have English as their native tongue. When I speak clearly, I am easy to understand. Without sufficient consideration I replied in the affirmative. Well, I have spoken to groups of people before and I regularly shout at eighty or more cyclo-cross riders as I call them up to the race start grid. I hadn’t thought this through. The Norseman Pre-Race is a big affair. There were 284 entrants (261 signed on at registration). Each athlete must have a support crew and, whilst a few have one supporter, many have two, and some have a van full. Then there are about forty crew members at the briefing.
Hmmm so that’s well over eight hundred people I’ll be addressing. Ho, hum. Let’s just keep busy doing other stuff and not dwell on this. OK?
The Tuesday evening fjord swim ended up being rather longer than intended as I misjudged which jetty I was heading for, resulting in a 1500m swim. Dave stayed close by and, whilst I was certainly not panicking, I was pretty whacked and relieved when I reached land. And I was dead chuffed with myself
By Wednesday several more crew were drifting into Eidfjord. After the early morning splash we were busy setting up the shop. The work rate ramped up significantly. There were stacks of boxes to be emptied, stock counted, clothes rails assembled and merchandise to be enticingly arranged. We were also issued our crew kit: logoed technical t-shirts and jackets, and a pair of Saloman off-road running shoes. Thank you very much. After a long day, we had a crew update meeting, to ensure that everyone knew their roles.
As there had been no opportunity for a long swim on Wednesday, and no prospect of a break during Thursday, Spike and I rose early and swam for thirty minutes before the thirty second splash crowd joined us. The water was noticeably cooler, and I stayed close to the jetty.
We were looked after magnificently. At first, when there was only a nucleus crew we shared breakfast outside Bergslein, whatever the weather – it’s easy to tip rainwater out of a butter tub, and were taken to local restaurants in the evening. One evening we had a Norwegian BBQ: hot dogs in the pouring rain. No wonder there is such empathy between the Brits and the Vikings. Once the numbers increased, the crew ate buffet meals at the Fjord and Fjell hotel (but we weren’t to sit at the best tables with the panoramic views of the fjord and mountains!).
Thursday was action stations. Swim hats and car stickers were numbered, goody bags filled and boxed up, tables arranged ready for registration to open at 2pm. Spike and I were assigned Q&A along with Jonny – our token Norwegian speaker
Most of the questions were from the sizeable French contingent. We managed to convince three separate groups of people to book accommodation near the race finish, and not to attempt to return to Eidfjord after racing. It was great to meet so many of the athletes and their support crews – even if some of them were in limbo, wondering whether their luggage would be delivered before the race start. It seemed as if the airlines couldn’t cope with more than three bikes in an airport.
On Thursday evening Line went through what I was required to say at the Pre-Race Briefing, including thanking the local singer, and leading a one minute silence in memory of a member of the Norseman family who died in an avalanche this spring. This meant that I had to pronounce their names properly. I spent a fair bit of the evening practicing.
“Rrrrrrraarnvayg Layerrrgreeed” I repeated to myself in bed.
Long-time crew member Rolf sat with us at breakfast, so I proudly reeled off the singer’s name.
“Hmmm. Not bad. But you’re pronouncing it wrong. And I know because she is my neighbour.”
I went back to the room chanting “Rrrrrrraarnvayg Layerrrgrayd”
The registration and Q&A teams were on duty all Friday morning. The pace was pretty manic, and we had to schedule in our lunch slots. After my lunch I went to the school where the Pre-Race briefing is held. I had a practice with the microphone. Espen, who was twiddling the knobs, was very encouraging. He assured me that when I welcomed everyone to the race, the audience would all whoop and go generally crazy.
During the singer’s soundcheck I was able to check how she pronounces her own name. I was nearly right. Now I had to adjust it to “Rrrrrrraarnva-ig Layerrrgrayd”.
The hall filled, buzzing with an anxious excitement. The lights dimmed and the Norseman 2013 video was shown. I had learnt not to watch, so that I didn’t have to go on stage wiping my eyes. Those videos don’t half make the room dusty. As the video ended, Rannveig came on stage and sang the most amazing plaintive folksongs, almost yodelling in a warbly way. Her voice was powerful and the music haunting.
When Rannveig completed her final song I mounted the stage and thanked her. There were no stifled giggles, so I must have been approximately ok. With a deep breath and a confident air I declared:
“Welcome to the 2014 edition of the Isklar Norseman Extreme Triathlon.”
I paused, ready for the tumultuous cheering, but could hear only silence.
So I moved swiftly on.
After the formal presentation there were more opportunities for questions in a variety of languages. I had the French and Spanish corner. All the questions were in French.
After tea we made up sandwiches ready for the next day and attended the final race crew briefing, where we were each assigned our roles for race day. I have attended six Norsemans, but, as I am not a participant, have never been on the ferry. I must have done something right, as Kalle reckoned that Line would need some assistance handling the press on the boat. Yay! Going on the boat was worth losing two hours sleep.
The alarm went off at 2:15am. I was at the quay for 2:45. Line checked that the press members attempting to board were on her approved list. They’re a pushy bunch; those without permission were always ready to try name dropping and threaten us with who was going to hear about this outrageous denial of their right to board. The athletes were all calm and composed – at least on the outside they were . Inside the boat there was a respectful hush as each athlete followed his or her routine – listening to music, yoga sequences and a lot of going to the loo. The more nervous athletes were chattering. As the boat approached the required position, wet suits were zipped up and the athletes began the walk towards the open jaw. It was a real privilege to be there. Once they were all in the water, heading to the row of canoes, I stood with Randi and the rest of the crew watching the heads bobbing in the water. When the fog horn sounded about ten feet from our heads I nearly leapt out of my skin. The race was on.
Having watched the swimmers for a couple of minutes, I headed upstairs with a bin bag and started collecting rubbish and discarded kit. Once the boat arrived back in Eidfjord, we collected all the numbered kit bags and delivered them to the appropriate slots in T1.
Time for porridge, packing the car and a long, difficult drive. My daytime role was to drive the chief referee, Dorthe, along the course. We were to aim to be along with the middle pack of the athletes, looking out for bad behaviour by athletes and their support crews. When a support crew or athlete is given a time penalty, the athlete has to serve it in a sin bin pen along the course (T2 and the 32km point on the marathon). Spike was also refereeing from the back of a motorbike. He had the red and yellow cards of power on his lanyard.
Before Dorthe and I left Eidfjord, her phone was already ringing with reports from marshals and refs of misdemeanours. She was also liaising between athletes who had lost their support crews, ensuring that marshals kept the athletes fed and watered, whilst explaining to the crews where to find their lonely friends. It was non-stop. And Dorthe was on top of the situation, jotting numbers and offences in her little black notebook, sending on messages for marshals up the course to ensure the sentence was served.
I had my first trip in the ferry that morning, now Spike was to have an even more exhilarating new experience. For seven years he has cycled past the main reason for coming to Norway. On race day we met up at the Dyranut Breakfast buffet. It was lush.
As we continued to Geilo, we followed a support crew camper van with an ambivalent attitude to road safety. Even as we followed them into the car park at Geilo they cut up an oncoming car. Dorthe, with her yellow card primed approached the felons. A couple of charming Frenchmen were distraught that their driving was considered dangerous and promised to be more attentive and less urgent in the future. They still got the five minute penalty.
Leaving Geilo, Dorthe spotted a crew member having a wee in full view of all. She was tempted to text them to explain that public urination is not acceptable in Norway. Then she thought better of it and ate some chocolate instead. Our minds were soon focussed on the next situation. Spike came across an athlete who had crashed hard on a fast descent. Dorthe was locating the nearest race doctor as we approached the accident site. The rider was soon on the move again, but the doctors all took a keen interest in him at T2 before allowing him to proceed.
Our car was a frenzy of activity all the way to T2. Here, Dorthe surveyed the land, looking out for support crews dressed in too much running gear, who might swap roles with the athlete for a few miles. Nothing escaped her eagle eye. Meantime, as I ambled around enjoying the fresh air I was greeted by our atrocious-driving Frenchmen. They oozed charm as they explained to me just how well behaved they had been since Geilo, and couldn’t I just rescind the yellow card as they are such reformed characters now. Keeping entirely neutral in this situation, I just mentioned that Dorthe is German, and asked whether they thought she would annul the violation. In a magnificent display of national stereotyping, they accepted their lot with a Gallic shrug.
We soon moved on to Zombie Hill, where we were concerned about support crews cycling on the wrong side of the road and parking dangerously.
As the road can get very congested at Stavsro, the entrance to the mountain, we let the motor bikes monitor the last few kilometres, so Dorthe and I got settled at Gaustablikk. I was getting pretty grumpy as it was now 6pm and the driving had been pretty stressful. So I showered and put myself to bed for a couple of hours.
At 8pm, a little refreshed, I located the white t-shirt finish, where I saw Mohamed Lahna paraded in by an unrelated Norwegian crew. They sang and “hupp”ed with all their might. It must have thrown up some dust which got in my eyes.
I went for some dinner and joined the finish line crew. I was soon entrusted with the clipboard of power, noting how many laps each athlete had done. It was bloody hard work, as we had to cheer and encourage every athlete and accompanying crew as they slogged the last few kilometres. The last athlete crossed the line at half past midnight, and, as with all the others before her, got a rousing reception to celebrate her achievement.
The next morning Spike was finally able to wear his new black t-shirt, which had been in the suitcase for a week.
Black T number 7:
As is usual, all the athletes were arranged on the benches and tables ready for a photo. We recalled that, in the past, after one photo, the photographer asks if those who did the crew race can join the picture. So Spike waited for this moment. But then they were all dismissed, and it transpired that the rest of the crew race finishers had already got in the picture. Oh well. No photo of him with Gaustatoppen in the background. As usual, all the support crews are assured that they will get to take photos just as soon as the official race pictures have been taken. And, as usual, the official photographer forgets to ask everyone to stay in place for the personal photos. I guess some things are traditions.
We had to scoot off sharpish as we had a 5pm flight to catch from Oslo. About an hour from our destination, as some unpleasant thudding noises got more frequent, the Check Engine symbol lit up. We carried on, and with a sigh of relief we limped into the airport car park. After a short tour of its many levels, we eventually found our agreed spot and made our flight home. Phew.
This really had been an exhilarating week. We met some amazing people and had an absolute blast. It was a knackering experience, and would jump at the chance to do it all again. Roll on Norseman 2015.
Did I really swim in a fjord?
Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:53 pm Cleo
As usual, a fantastic report. I used Rent-a-wreck when I was under 24 in the US. It was the only place that would rent to untrusted drivers! So glad you still have the mug and that Spike finally got to have the Breakfast of Champion Crews. Yay to you both!
It *is* about the bike.