TelemarkHelten – Helteløpet
14th September 2014
This was my second time taking part in the running version of TelemarkHelten – Helteløpet. A race held near the town of Rauland towards the center of Norway, it has an interesting tactic of alternating the route year on year. When I took part in 2013
we were taken down a long valley with steep descents into the town of Rjukan. This year it was again relatively downhill from start to finish but with a lesser gradient and varied running surface. Even though the course was downhill it was still undulating with over 270m of height gain over the 26km following forest trails, swamps, paths, gravel roads and a small section of tarmac.
The weather couldn’t have been more different from the 5 degrees and rain of last year… we were basking in sunshine with clear skies as the competitors lined up at the start! I couldn’t help but look around admiring the countryside; I am more accustomed to seeing this part of Norway under snow and was enjoying the change in scenery.
As we got underway I wasn’t surprised at the fierce pace set from the start; I was confident it would settle down and once we got into the first uphill I was comfortably moving through the leading group. After 2 km we entered the first sections of trail where the more technical running saw me open a lead. However, this was soon lost thanks to an overly friendly dog!
As I ran past two walkers their dog decided it would be more fun to run with me than to walk with them. I figured, like most dogs, he would chase me for 10m or so then head back. Turns out this guy was a little more persistent! As we ran further and further from his owners he continually jumped up, hitting my legs and playfully mouthing my hands trying to halt my progress. After a couple of failed attempts at stopping to talk Norwegian to him I was overtaken by the next three competitors. I had now traveled about 500m from the owners and it was clear this guy wanted to accompany me all the way to the finish, so using his lead I tied him to the nearest tree and gave chase to those who had overtaken. With thoughts of animal cruelty running through my mind I managed to overtake and was once again leading – laughing at how eventful the first 4km had been with over 22km left.
The following 6km was all on paths through forest and swamp. Leaping from stone to stone where possible on the swampy sections, I made good progress and before I knew it I was on a hard packed road that I would be following for another 6km. Enjoying the scenery and running alone I was settled and happy with how my body was performing clocking some 3:20 minute km’s. Back into the forest and a slowing of pace I still felt comfortable with 8km to go.
As I neared the finish I tried to keep my work rate relatively high. Following a large lake and running across farmers fields, I was looking forward to being done and cheering Henriette through (who eventually managed an amazing 3rd place finish). I eventually finished in a time of 1:36:16, roughly 10 minutes ahead of second place. At the finish line were a selection of recovery drinks and snacks; TelemarkHelten had not disappointed once again, a fantastically organised event with a really enjoyable route and the best possible weather!
This race had now taken the form of a ‘tune up’ for me before the Spartan World Championships in the USA next Saturday. I was happy with how my body performed and look forward to a week of resting up before I join the world’s best obstacle racers to do battle in Vermont. No matter how that race turns out I am looking forward to the experience and will let you know how I get on!