Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front page -

“Only the fastest 160 ath­letes among the 250 that start are al­lowed to climb the fi­nal moun­tain.”

THE NORSE­MEN (OR NORSE) in­hab­ited south­ern and cen­tral Scan­di­navia be­tween 800 and 1300 AD. The idea of the very first Xtreme triathlon held in Nor­way in 2003 was sim­ple: hav­ing done an Iron­man is tough, but fin­ish­ing an ul­tra-iron­man to be­come a true Norseman is even harder. The man be­hind the first Norseman was Hårek Stran­heim, who orig­i­nally wanted the race to go through the most beau­ti­ful land­scapes of Nor­way. He also wanted the par­tic­i­pants to share their ad­ven­ture with fam­ily and friends, who will then be­come their sup­port through the day (per­sonal sup­port cars are manda­tory and they have to pro­vide food, drink and per­sonal needs in case of ex­treme weather). At the same time, the race wasn’t only a jour­ney through a nice land­scape with a bunch of friends. It’s sup­posed to be bru­tal. “Let the race end on top of a moun­tain, to make it the tough­est full dis­tance triathlon on planet earth,” reads the Norseman’s of­fi­cial web page.

The course still stretches point-to-point and has many epic el­e­ments: from the iconic four-me­tre jump off the ferry into the Har­dan­ger­fjord at 5 a.m. (Nor­way’s long­est fjord lo­cated in the south west of the coun­try with tem­per­a­tures of­ten around 10 C), to the top of the Gaus­tatop­pen peak (1,850 me­tres above sea level and 220 km away) and through the Har­dan­gervidda moun­tain plateau. In to­tal, the ver­ti­cal gain of the bike leg is 3,800 m and the run 1,432 m. How­ever, only the fastest 160 ath­letes among the 250 that start are al­lowed to climb the fi­nal moun­tain and to be awarded with one of the fa­mous fin­isher t-shirts. The ul­tra-fam­ily of Xtreme events ex­panded to the Celt­man (Scot­land) in 2012 and the Swiss­man (Switzer­land) in 2013.

AL­THOUGH IT IS A NEW EN­TRY on the Xtreme cal­en­dar, the Bear­man can eas­ily be listed among the hard­est. The “race of the bear” is lo­cated in the French Pyre­nees around Amélie-Les-Bain­sPalalda and the bike leg fea­tures 4,700 m of ver­ti­cal gain. As with the other Xtreme events, the Bear­man is a self-sup­ported race, so ath­letes have to bring on their hy­dra­tion and nutri­tion and be pre­pared for the lack of aid sta­tions. (The or­gan­i­sa­tion does point out the main wa­ter stops for both the bike and the run.) On top of the com­mon gear for these kind of races, and the fact that the race is un­sup­ported, ath­letes must also bring warm cloth­ing and bike lights in prepa­ra­tion for when the sun goes down. If you want to ex­pe­ri­ence an Xtreme event in a true fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment, the Bear­man is the race to go to as it’s or­ga­nized by a fam­ily (the Laid­lows), who also or­ga­nize train­ing camps and of­fer on­line coach­ing tai­lored for the Bear­man and/ or any other goals you may have for the sea­son. The phi­los­o­phy be­hind the Bear­man is to bring triathlon back to its roots.

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