By my standards it’s been a while since my last race. I was therefore really looking forward Styrkeprøven Rett Vest (directly translated: The Strength Test Straight West). Based in my new hometown of Bergen (Norway), this is a roughly marathon distance running race across mountainous terrain taking in some noticeable climbs and descents. The race was relatively low key here but would probably be ranked along side the Welsh 1000m peaks race in terms of toughness.
The route is marked, but we were also required to carry a map to help navigation. I purchased mine a few weeks back and have enjoyed taking some reconnaissance trips to learn the route. I concentrated on the second half and am glad I did as for the first half of the race I was running with two other competitors.
The route starts with an 800m climb to the highest peak in Bergen, Gullfjellet. From there, the route holds a lot of height with only a few noticeable climbs before a steep boggy descent to the halfway point. From here the course is more about a steep ascent followed by a steep descent and a flat section, before being repeated up the next peak again and again. The route is 44km long and has a total height gain of over 3400m!
We would be running over a mixture of boggy and uneven rocky paths with a few sections of road in the second half. This made a choice of which shoes to wear relatively difficult. I intended to wear my x-talon 212s but was keen to try my new oroc 280s and ended up wearing them in the end. These provided amazing grip on the boggy descents but got me some funny looks as I clattered along some of the tarmac sections. I would also be using the inov-8 race ultra vest with a bottle to refill from streams.
Gathering at the start it became clear this trip was going to be as much about the experience and completion for most and less about racing. This didn’t stop myself and two others putting in a good pace up the first climb, before getting into some conversations on the flatter sections. I was unsure of how I would perform with a somewhat upset training routine lately. It took me a while to get into the run but after an hour or so I was feeling better and started to enjoy the view and some small efforts up some hills.
It was still the three of us together before the descent to half way. I enjoyed going down so much I opened a minute or two lead. A bit early to forge ahead but I wasn’t fussed as from here I knew the route and felt as if I was on home turf.
Descending into Bergen itself there were 3 main climbs left all at about 400m and I started to feel my heart rate rising above were it should be as fatigue set in. Without a competitor to push me to go faster I allowed myself many walking sections up the final climb and even stopped to point a family of tourists in the right direction for their trip…
After an especially rocky final descent to the finish I was done some 5hours and 21 minutes after starting.
Feeling happy with how my body performed and only feeling as if I had lost some endurance after the move to Norway, Henriette and I headed to a lake to give my legs a little cold dip to help them recover. My next race will be HelteLøpet; a running race I took part in and won last year based near Rauland in the center of Norway.
Flights haven’t been booked but it looks likely I will be going to the Spartan World Championships in just 3 weeks time. With next to no strength training during my move to Norway I’m undertaking a crash course at Crossfit Bryggen to get ready! Lets see how I get on.