Ascending mountains and podium
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.”
Meredith Hill crosses the finish in second place at the Isklar Norseman Xtreme triathlon.