As­cend­ing moun­tains and podium

Multisport Mecca - - News - Grant Ed­wards Grant.Ed­wards@news.com.au

AF­TER months of gru­elling train­ing and ses­sions of more than 20 Bud­erim hills in one ride, Mered­ith Hill can fi­nally re­lax.

The Pere­gian Beach phys­io­ther­a­pist se­cured sec­ond place in the gru­elling Norse­man Xtreme triathlon in Nor­way at the week­end – an event renowned as one of the world’s tough­est iron-dis­tance events.

Hill fin­ished the 226km course, which in­cluded a 3.8km swim in cold wa­ter af­ter jump­ing off a car ferry, fol­lowed by a moun­tain­ous 180km ride and 42.2km run, in 12hrs 16min 50sec.

Af­ter lead­ing for much of the race she was passed by even­tual win­ner Nor­we­gian Ann Nevin, who claimed vic­tory by 12 min­utes.

“It was bloody amaz­ing. The course is spec­tac­u­lar,” Mered­ith said.

“It was of­ten hard to con­cen­trate on where I was go­ing. I wanted Nor­way to throw its in­fa­mous el­e­ments at us so I’d have the true Norse­man ex­pe­ri­ence, and it def­i­nitely did.

“Thank­fully the wind was in our favour for parts of the day so it was a faster race than pre­vi­ous years. We had sleet­ing rain, fog and temperatures down to 3-4 de­grees Cel­sius so I didn’t miss out.”

Start­ing well de­spite the freez­ing wa­ter, Mered­ith pro­duced a 59:56 swim be­fore get­ting on the bike.

Fac­ing nearly 3700m of climb­ing through­out the bru­tal bike course, she com­pleted the jour­ney in 6:23:09.

Yet it was the marathon which proved the most dif­fi­cult.

“The tough­est part for me was def­i­nitely the up­hill run­ning which started at 25km of the marathon,” Mered­ith said.

“It was re­lent­less for 7km of switch­backs of about 10% be­fore flat­ten­ing out tem­po­rar­ily. That’s where I suf­fered the most and was re­duced to a run/walk. It was dif­fi­cult to try and repli­cate this in train­ing on the Sun­shine Coast. The Nor­we­gians def­i­nitely dom­i­nated here.”

Be­ing at the pointy end of the field en­abled Hill to earn a cov­eted black fin­ish­ers t-shirt. Only the first 160 of 250 com­peti­tors are al­lowed to tackle the fi­nal moun­tain due to safety is­sues.

There is an al­ter­na­tive fin­ish for those who don’t make the cut-off.

Sur­pris­ingly, Mered­ith man­aged to get through the icy swim with­out is­sue.

“The wa­ter was ac­tu­ally okay. I was decked out with booties, a ther­mal hood and a ther­mal suit un­der my wet­suit,” she said.

“There was some icy cold patches where glacier wa­ter flows into the fjord so those def­i­nitely made me feel alive.”

Her sec­ond place capped an im­pres­sive come­back to rac­ing. She fin­ished fourth at the half iron-dis­tance (1.9km swim, 90km cy­cle, 21.1km run) Chal­lenge Ice­land as a train­ing week­end.

Mered­ith’s last event was the Iron­man 70.3 World Cham­pi­onships at Mooloolaba in Septem­ber, and she had since been side­lined with a stress frac­ture of the sacrum.

Hav­ing re­cov­ered well from Norse­man, she will re­turn to the Sun­shine Coast and plan her schedule of lo­cal races over the next six months.

“At this stage, I won’t rush back to do Norse­man again next year. I ab­so­lutely loved the race and would highly rec­om­mend it to any­one who likes a per­sonal chal­lenge,” she said.

“There are other races, like Celt­man or Swiss­man which I’d love to ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore re­peat­ing Norse­man.”

PHOTO: OLA MORKEN

Mered­ith Hill crosses the fin­ish in sec­ond place at the Isklar Norse­man Xtreme triathlon.

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