Me and Chris talk about this race since Hellas Frostbite in December when I meet him for the first time. He got a ticket but a sore teammate. I have always dreamed about this race. After the first year in 2013 the myth just got bigger. A real heavy Norwegian folklorish beast in my eyes. Loads of stories has flooded into my eyes though the years.
Anyway around late June we nailed the team and booked the tickets. Chris is a real globetrotter and a director for a massive gaming brand. Was the capten of the paperwork, and it was his team the was going to make a attempted to reach Florli within cut-of times and so on. I am in a pretty good shape and really a nerd of swimrun felt that this race has the myth and concept that I like. Me, Chris and Philip have been training since new years both swimining and quality training on Stockholm’s stadion. Back and forth, we are also the team behind Hellas Frostbite Swimrun in December.
Now back to the race. We arrived in Stavande early on Friday and visited the town a little bit, but we were mainly focused on sleeping and eating. Did check in, found a bunch of friends such as Eva Fridman, Pontus Flingdahl, Fredrik Rosenholm, Elin Lilja and Sophia Demnert. I’ve seen and talked with some of them before, but others were pretty new for me. But a friendly feeling got to it’s top on the dinner and race briefing. The race organisers do a lot to make the myth going fore sure. We were laughing after all the new info that got to us. Great laughs and loads of corrections of the track felt great for me as I wanted adventure. After competing four times in a row on Ö till Ö, I am up for new drama, new hikes and long swims.
The status on our team “Ducks of Hazzard” were little bit sore after Borås swimrun were Chris did really good, but leaving sore legs and elbows, so the training before the beast was not perfect. Personally I was focused on the hills the whole of July. And I got one week before a good race chance with Jonas Koch in team Swimrunpodden on Amfibiemannen as a last check before Rockman Ragnarök that swims and legs were in shape. Our tactics were me in front of the swims with a rope between, and just what we hade on the runs. Every 40 min energysignal on the clock to not go low.
After a silent boatride to the Fantahåla as a start, we got the signal and jumped in the lysefjord for a first longswim around 1 k. I´ve was nervous and exicted as hell. I pulled as hard as i could without having the rope to hard. Chris was swiming great, and we ended up on the first run after 20 min approx. We started climb and i was flying high after the spectaular start. Whow what a scenery. I fjord was salty and little bit cold, but nothing that to worry about. Loads of rain had done the track soft and muddy. After a short while Chris was in pain and wanted to slow down, me i was surpriced and tryed to find strengh not pushing to hard but moving up slowly.
We been out not more the one hour and this setback already. Breath breath deep think think. The beautful thing with swimrun is that whatever you do the teams chances to success is to be smart not panic and start wining. Ok we got nine hours to reach Florli, this was a brutal hill to start with so i just pepptalked Chris that we slow down, and focus on moving fowards, no mater of the tempo. We got some speed but not here. After easy walk up to he next swim, loads of teams passed us, but i though about chris and his symptoms. Last year before Ö till Ö me and Philip was in sandhamn the day before and i got a big pain in my back. Chris had been think alot before this race and been dreaming of it as well. Probaly a chock for the head and loads more so i was just calm and keept my mouth shut. We are going to do this all out thats our plan. Be patient now Daniel. This is a beautiful day in Rogland Norway. My first race in this fantastic country of fjords, lakes, mountains and a lot more.
Finaly we climbed that up to Refsvatnet approx 300 positive meters on the muddy track. Now i was prepared for three swims to close the cap. We push hard but with Chris symptoms in mind. I peptalked like “soon swim you going to love it”. The nature were impressive beautiful landscape little bit of fog, some raindrops but still fantastic for swimrun. Crazy feeling when we waved to some fishermans on the other side of the lakes. Magic touch of the organizers to get this thing rolling. A lot can happen in this enviroment and more to come, as we closed some caps in the Revsvatnet.
One Norweigan team keept reminding me of why we use cord between us on the swims. They enters the swim a minute or so before us. I saw them on the right but just focused on the exit. They got closer and closer and were swimming zick-zack like they didn´t know were to go. I made a small turne to leave them behind i and so i did. Now it was a good chance to make a good move. Chris was now enjoying the race more, i saw his face and the first horrified look was gone. We entered the feeld of Preikkestolhytta with some cap of a minute or so back to the other teams that we where fighting with on the three swims in Revsvatnet. Just before we lost the sight from the lake i discovered that around 15 teams where just entering the last swimsection. Great Chris we are far from last. The energystop were welcomed and we continued up towards the legendary Preikkestolen.
Around 4 k was the next run and more positive meters on the way up towards the sky. I was in a lote better mood now then chris started to speed up. A heavy start but it can only get better. We started gaining heights with loads of tourist, Chines, Norwegins, Germans, Swedes, Spanish, Koreans, japanies and so on. The loose Norwegian team with lack of navigation during the swims past us as fast orienteering goats from Kirkenes. What a tempo, impressive! It was funny to see all people with sticks and backpacks looking on us as rubberducks gaing to the Preikkestolen.
After a while we meet some fast teams that already made the clime and we got hungry to speed up. Chris were now in a great mood and the pain left more and more then the steeps were smaller and not so steep up. We contiuned up up, and more crowded it went. Loads of hikers up today on the mountain. After a turn we finaly saw teams coming towards us the gain was not so steep but we felt the hight. Now some trailrunning on the mountain and so we got closer to the egde, now we found chains and ropes to hold on to. Me as before afraid of heights didn´t look to close as we now were on 600/700 meters up from the fjord. A fast photoshoot and some candy and gel on the famous Preikkestolen and of we went. Suddenly we saw Oscar as one of the organizer and told him to take a picture of our team and we continued foward to the section to Brattli.
This trekking/hiking were a dream come true for trailrunners like me. Chris were fighting and had a good last hour, but now it went up and down really steep down and up again. We did´nt fail to trust plan to keep pumping in energy every 40 min, and with a swim in the middel we where awake fore sure. The lake water were fresh and around 10-14 degrees. Sucha nice race with this specatular views. Mountains and fjords, lakes and mudd. The rain got a little bit more tense, but with wetsuit i did´nt bother. After running a while at almost the same speed as a other swedish team, we talked a little bit but we had a little more speed in the trails so we moved on, suddenly a Italian team were walking slowly and talked about quiting the race, we where little supriced because this where on the mountain appox 2-3 k to the next swimexit brattli. We told them to contiune down at least 3 k. Really hard to find teams on this beautiful section. Hoppet the moutain were called as a spotted on the map. After some more descending down to Brattli we caught up with another swedish womens team. “Attack of the invisible rubber ducks ” we were fighting in the heavy trails and fun to meet some more teams having fun in the forrest.
We were down together to Brattli energy and swim entry for the 1,6 swim to sognesand, i was a little worried for the cold but after taking to Simon one of the racecaptains a was safe. Our teams bad start hade turned to something really god and fun. Chris and i jumped in the water, and started the long swim it were supposed to be 1600 m. As far as i know it doesen´t end up like what, we are not birds. Current, wind and so on are we depending on. After 600 m i´ve seen the brutal Rubberducks passing us with a impressive speed and cadens. I was glad and happy for them, tryed to keep up there tempo but not a chance. Anyway saw some other unexperinces teams swimming lame and seemed to be frozen or something. I didn´t look som sharp. The fjord was christal clear, salt north sea water some sailning boat in the distance but far from that only security boats. After a little while we past sjöklampen we where supposed to see the exit at Bakke kai, but it was far. I just turned down my head and pushed foward. I saw some jellyfish but nothing else, the lysefjord is on some spots more than 700 m deep, so i guess swimning with out a wetsuit dosen´t get warmer than this during the summer.
We stuggled towards the kai which i now spotted and catched some teams and past them aswell. Great felling to have more power than those fast runners. Swimrun then it is the best. We finally reached the bakken kai got some warm drinks, now i was freezing but not so bad some other teams with plankets and and other challanges. I was really eager to start the sprintsection and Chris where now as it´s best. He were now taking the lead, great now were talking. He smiled and pushed the trailrunning as fast as it was possible. Bare in mind that Chris ankel was big this morning, not normal in my mind. What a fighter, i knew he were going to sell this beast expensive so do i, i was still cold but it got better as we finally reached Sognesand. A interesting stone sprint with loads of trekking involed.
The team spirit were good, and we had know found a good tempo to explore and have fun as well knowing that this were going to be as great as we hoped fore before the race. First asphalt section of the day 7 k of running on this small road and some gain of approx 250 m before energystation Kåsengård that we didn´t really know about. I tryed to start running and higher the tempo but chris was hard to convince, but we tryed a little bit, before he didn´t really hade the power. We had know been out for more than 6 hours, and his record as enduranceracing where before Rockman just under six hours. So time for some cheering, record. Great if you could celebrate on a race, just do it. One other team were in sight and we where closing in, that´s good. Not look back now. The road to Kåsengård, where nice, i liked to leave the trailhiking fore a while to actually run on flat surface but still the road went up up, but not steep. Some car past us and we now fund intersting subject to speech about, actually very secret things that i don´t going tell you, about. Sorry where were we!
Kåsen gård and Creps, and panncakes, are you fore real? Great view down to the Florli and Kåsaklubben i´ve spotted. Some team where close and i was in a hurry, so after some flirting with the energystation we went of steep decending to the last long swim. Team Rockhuggers past us but they were unsync, one man stong controlled the other tired and fell really close to a sharp rock. Scary in my view i told Chris, safety before speed. No mistakes now. I like fast downward runs in tricky terrain, but you´re team in swimrun has to go with the speed the team has. No matter what. Get you´re team going be friends and push you´re to new goals.
We reached Kåsaklubben and got Chris going with a swimsafe after us. This was what i been waiting for a longswim some wind, choppy from east. The perfect test of that my swimming has improved since rusty Utö Swimrun in may. Lysefjorden is pretty deep here in the middle, around 300 meters, i´ve heard a lot of just this swimsection from last year. Thanxs Eva Fridman, Bjarne Koning & Sofie Lantto. I was in good energy level, i was hungry to push hard as f**k. This was the part to imporve and catch up some lost minutes to the teams in front of us.
The guy with the swimsafe told us to hold the course to the right. I saw some teams before us stuggling in fjord. We just keept going entering the cold water and just started this 1,7 k swim. I hade spotted some teams to have something to have in sight after around 400 m i´ve spotted a team going way to the right. The current didn´t seems to take us to the left as the wind where heading. I change course and got right on target instead. Now i had nothing to hold me back, and chris were fighting good. The cord did seemed to stretch a little bit. We had also the swimsafer with us. I struggled now, the wind and the waves made the water choppy. Some waved from the side made it little bit more trick y than the ones before. After 1 k i thought “what is happening” the house on the other side i exactly as big as before. More waves more fighting, i just keept on swimning, some time we are going to reach land. I´ve done 1,7 k swims loads of times but not with the depth of 300 meter.
A kajak came passing us and there out there in the waves. The team on the right where still going the right, we passed them and i just keept looking at the harbour of florli. After at around 40 min, i´ve found myself little bit cold, i´ve a Head Swimrunrace wetsuit borrowed from Chris with cut arms and legs. Maybe little bit to short arms. But great flexibilty. Now we spotted some more teams infront going really slow and i was hungry for a fight. I started to gain some speed. Chris followed me good, besides the swimsafer that was dragging some, we pushed and closed the gap, the Team Mean Machines had some tough last bit on the long swim, and we closed 9 min to this team on this swim.
The good thing in this race where my great teammate Chris that didn´t have any problems with the cold, i´ve told him before that we should bring our hoods fore extra warm head. It worked fine. We rached Florli around 50 min before cut-off. Some energy and dancing with the norwegian lady in red folklore suit.
Now ready for the stairs, i saw the winner in men and mixed team laughing before the 4444 stairs. We move up up after 500 stairs, Chris needed some slower tempo, we took some time of to explore the view. Great feeling to not be in a rush for a change. To stop and look, was for me new and nice. Finally the rusty chain stopped and we were now up in the clouds. Soon a shore 100 m swim in a lake was set for us. It was really cold fore shure. Put a nice staff got some coffee at the exit. Bless you man! Brilliant energystop in my view.
We countinued slowly though the terrain and saw the mysterius dragons neck. But not this time, maybe in the future but the dark weather this great august day could this route not be able to do. So we were stuggeling with one big foot and tree normal ones.
After some rocky steps on the mountain we reached checkpoint 7 klubbatjorna. First time for me now after more the ten hours racing, little bit dizzy, hungry and warm. We were happy for som energy and drinks and got of on the narrow path slowly reaching a gravelled road. Not so far left now, under 10 k and we were happy but chris suffered on the runs with his aka big foot/anckel. The uppwards turned downvards. Great i thought now it´s time for us to shine, and the temp were now more the jogging. Subjects as metalband from the 80-is got on the vinylplayer.
We were talking, Suicidal Tendenscies, Testament, Anthrax and so on. The road turned and turned, we finally reached the signs that told us to go trail, really nice and some downhill. Perfect for me, not so fore chris fore sure. That damn foot! I saw in his face that the hours had turned him even more to a fighter on this heavy track. Sucha preformance, with this not so much of a leg to run/climbe/walk on. I took a clifbar with coffein, and shortly after what i was dizzy, to low on drinks now after more the ten hours of swimrunning.
The downward spirial a great album from Nine Inch nails started playing in my head as the racetrack were just go steep down. I saw the florli and heard some noice from the village, suddenly a team came passing us in a rush, and me waved to them go go. Me and chris were battling with his demons. And soon we were in the mayhem of the goal, the finishline. Great man sucha blasting and race. 11 hours and 52 min later we done it. Nail it and got us the throfy. The Rockman Ragnarök Belt. Thanxs Chris for beliving in me and took me on this ride. I hope we can do it next year with healty legs and fresh bodys.
Over and out.
Text: Daniel Becker
Photo: Press/Matti Rapila Andersson