There are few tests of grit and strength that can measure up to the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon.
The race starts with a plunge into a freezing fjord in the pre-dawn dark and finishes (for most competitors) among steep, rocky terrain near the top of a mountain. Despite the insanity of the course, nearly 2500 athletes from across the globe enter each year. For safety reasons this number is whittled down to 250 competitors and only 160 of these will make their way to the top of Gaustatoppen, 1850 metres above sea level.
Course aside, the weather in Norway tends to be variable, and in the most extreme sense, too. The temperature at the mountain finish can be close to zero, while the bike and run leg can be up to 28 degrees. Needless to say, extreme weather – blizzards, low visibility, wind and rain – may necessitate changes in the course. But for the lucky few who do get to make it to the peak, it’s an unforgettable experience, if a little chilly. It is comforting to know that soup will be provided at the finish line.
Although Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is regarded as the ultimate test of endurance, the organisers would like to remind competitors that it’s all in the name of sportsmanship and friendly competition.
“Please be friendly to the locals,” the race manual requests. “They are totally amazed that you came, and they think you’re completely nuts to be doing this. You are. And they will support you the best way they can in your eﬀort to succeed.”