Canadian Woman chosen for Norseman Xtreme race
Norway’s Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is an iron- distance race that starts with a swim in a frigid fjord and involves climbing a rocky trail up Gaustatoppen mountain at the end of the marathon. One of the most demanding races in the world, Norseman is also unsupported. Vancouver’s Richele Frank is the lone Canadian, and one of five women, selected to compete as an elite in the August 2nd race. Norseman is capped at 250 athletes.
Frank participated in cross- country running, skiing, soccer and figure skating from childhood through university and, in her 20s, took up long- distance running and ran her first marathon in 2005. She ran 15 marathons before taking up triathlon as a new challenge in 2009 – a sprint distance in Vancouver.
“At age 35, it was one of the most humbling and difficult things I had ever done, but I was determined to improve. I was intrigued by the challenge of the longer distance races and raced my first Ironman distance the following year at Ironman Canada,” said Frank.
She has since raced at the Ironman World Championship three times (2010, 2012, 2013), the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (in 2011) and represented Canada at the itu age-group long distance World Championship for the past two years. She is the current national age-group long distance champion ( W35– 39) and the B.C. provincial long- distance champion in her age group (2011 through 2013).
“I never want to become complacent and am always seeking out new challenges. Much in the same way that I started my journey to becoming a triathlete four years ago, the Norseman has been on my radar for some time. The daunting aspect of the race is certainly part of its appeal to me, the history of the race and the grassroots feel really intrigues me, and this type of race defines what being an endurance athlete means to me. The sheer difficulty of it, set against one of the most jaw- dropping backdrops I will likely ever experience, makes it an absolute must do.
“I would like to believe that being Canadian has some advantage in preparing for a difficult, temperate race – we train in cold all the time. I am fortunate to live in an area that geographically lends itself to training specificity for the Norseman. Vancouver and the south coast of B.C. have no shortage of mountainous terrain, and my coach and I will develop a race-specific training plan that optimizes the hilly terrain. In past years, my training partners and I have done some cross training that involved riding all three local mountains, followed immediately by a hike up the Grouse Grind (a 2.5k ascent up Grouse Mountain). I expect to see more of these somewhat crazy, but incredibly fun workouts in my training plan this year. Ironically, the cold water in English Bay that I usually complain about will be a valuable training tool (to deal with the cold water swim at the Norseman).”
The full- time tax accountant points out that “one of the unique aspects of the Norseman is the fact that it is fully self- supported, so the performance of my support team will also factor heavily into the day.
“My nerves will be hardest to control in the hours immediately before the race. Jumping off a ferry for a point-to-point swim in a fjord is so unlike any other race experience I have had. Based on prior year’s footage, I fully expect that the swim will be incredibly beautiful, but admittedly I will be quite happy to reach the shore,” said Frank who considers the swim and the elements as the two most daunting aspects of the race. “The Norseman is unique in that I will certainly experience several different climates during the course of the day. Being prepared for all types of conditions will be challenging and critical, with the main goals to be comfortable, dry and hydrated. I fully expect to have a lot of gear in tow.”
Frank was also selected by lottery to participate in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, and that will end up providing some extra preparation for the Norseman thanks to its cold water swim and the start off the ferry. Following the Norseman, she will compete at the itu Age Group World Championships in Edmonton.– RH
above Richele Frank racing the 2013 Ironman World Championship in Kona