After three years of taking part in and winning the Toughest Tour, 2018 has seen me take a break from the series. Toughest races are some of the best though, so I couldn’t help making my way to at least one.
The Oslo event is by far my favourite. The course is fast but has a fair amount of elevation change and the final obstacle is the ascent of the famous Holmenkollen ski jump. Obstacle racing isn’t so big in Norway, so there is always a buzz when Toughest come to put on Norway’s largest event.
Since I had been away my competition had been improving but unfortunately two of the top ranked runners; Ludvig Werkmaster and David Nordstrom wouldn’t be in Oslo. It would still be a tough race though with some new faces like Victor Lövdahl and some well known ones like Krister Sellman.
As always Toughest seem to be favoured by the weather gods with blue skies and a perfect running temperature. Having gone around the course the day before I knew there were two new obstacles I hadn’t done before, as well as the usual fast lane/slow lane combinations. The two hardest obstacles looked like the swing walk (mixture of large and small nunchucks) and the fast lane of the rig.
Being a bit rusty I was worried about the flying monkey. It was just 1km into the race and could prove problematic if the field is still bunched together. Thankfully with the first climb and a bunch of obstacles done, I had created a gap big enough to allow me to relax while I slowly swung myself through.
Coming back into the arena I did the dragons back and the new floating walls obstacle. I was now really enjoying myself. Toughest races are so fast but still at 8km not short, creating an intense but long race allowing you to enjoy the feeling of running and doing obstacles at speed.
Completing the second loop which included a refreshing swim I was onto the final and largest loop, still with a healthy lead. Taking the rope climb instead of the salmon ladder eroded this a little but I think I lost most of the time on how poorly I did the swing walk. Making it through without a penalty I was happy, but I could sense that people weren’t so far back.
The fast lane of the rig went far better than the swing walk and it was a good job it did. Dropping off my sandbag after a short carry Krister was just picking his up!
From here it was a long hill climb followed by some easier obstacles and the final ascent of the ski slope. I was confident this much climb would allow me the advantage so putting my head down I ground my way to the top.
Going up the ski slope is never easy, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other and plodded my way up, finally crossing the line just over 36 minutes after starting. Krister had a really strong race to finish second with Cimmie Wignell in third.
It was fun to race in Toughest again but I will unfortunately not be able to make any more of their races this year. My next race will be one of the biggest of the season, the Skyrunning Ultra World Championships in Scotland.
Some really great photos by Mikkel Beisner & Jacques Holst