The TelemarkHelten race series is in honour of “The Heroes of Telemark” – a Norwegian resistance who targeted the Vemork power station in Rjukan in order to inhibit the Nazi development of nuclear weapons during WW2.
The race series (http://www.telemarkhelten.no/) consists of a cross-country ski, mountain bike and running race. I took part in the cross-country skiing race earlier this year finishing the 42km course in just over 3 hours. Happy in the knowledge that I can run faster than I can ski, I was looking forward to this weekend’s race and felt relatively confident that I could better my skiing result of 211th place.
The course was set to start at a dam up the valley from Rjukan. We would then run down the valley and into the city centre before finishing at the local running track. Much of the route would be downhill, however undulations still made the 22.5km race much hillier than I am used to. The majority of the course was to be on gravel paths with some technical section of trail before the final 3km on tarmac.
I pushed the pace quite hard from the start of the race thinning the field to just me and one other. He seemed to be an exceptionally strong runner and was very comfortable with the pace I was setting. We ran together for the first 10km where we came to the first (small) section of technical trail. I had already noticed he had standard road running trainers which definitely wouldn’t provide the grip of my Inov8’s and I was eager to see how he would manage the change in terrain. He didn’t seem comfortable on the uneven ground so I knew if I was to build a winning lead it would have to be on the zigzag path beneath the power station pipes where the running would be the most technical. Once we reached this section (about 12-13km into the race) I somewhat dangerously gave it my all and sprinted down the winding slippery path. By the time I reached the bottom I had managed to get a 40 second lead which I built on from then on and in, winning the race with just over a minute to spare.
Without having the advantage of trail shoes and practice of running on uneven ground from orienteering the race would have been much closer with possibly a different winner. Happy with my performance the celebration was with beer and sauna…followed by one more mountain run for the road.
Photo credit: TelemarkHelten / Mats Grimsæth / Kai-Otto Melau