I spent the week leading up to Stranda fjord checking the weather forecast for the area. It stubbornly kept saying rain all day – until Thursday, when suddenly the forecast changed to sunshine all day. But it was a false hope - by Friday morning the forecast sun had been replaced by cloud, and by the time we arrived in Stranda on Friday evening the rain was back on the agenda.
Saturday morning dawned just as wet as forecast, although thankfully mild and still. Hanne drove me to the parking area before the start and we trudged 15 minutes up the gravel road in the pouring rain to the start.
I was pleased to get underway. We started off on the gravel road but soon veered off on to a trail that went up through the forest - with all the rain the path was very muddy. The route levelled off a bit as we came out of the forest but then continued more steeply up, this time through heather and bilberry bushes, and we used both hands and feet to get up the steep slope.
As we got higher up the vegetation disappeared and the terrain changed to rocky scree. It was fairly stable but slippery in the wet and required full concentration. It would have been very easy to fall or twist an ankle. This continued to the summit of Fremste Blåhorn, at 1478m, the highest point on the course. Retracing our steps the first ½km, the rocks were just as tricky going down, and I was repeatedly overtaken by more nimble competitors. We continued down on the scree before heading back up to the next summit of Heimste Blåhorn. By now we had covered 10km/1500hm and the time said 2h 37min.
We descended along the ridge. It was rocky and hard work but very enjoyable with some nice easy scrambling at times. I ran with a young Norwegian guy for a while and we chatted, and helped each other find the best line down the technical sections. Eventually the ridge flattened out and gave way to boggy moorland, again with heather and bilberry bushes, the route was off-trail and followed markers across the moor. As we approached Stranda we picked up a path again, which eventually joined the road and took us to the food station in Stranda at just under 24km. It was a boost to see Hanne there, and she was relieved to see me too – I was within my guesstimate of 4 – 5 hours to reach here, but only just. When she asked how it was out on the course I replied with one word – ‘brutal’.
But I couldn’t stay chatting all day, there were still 9 km and 1200m to go, so having had some food it was time to go again. By now the rain had stopped and I was able to dispense with the rain jacket. I ran out through the town, passing the athletics stadium, before getting out to the trail. Again the first part went up through forest until the route reached more open, rocky terrain. It was hard and steep and I was tired. The kilometres seemed to pass very slowly as I made my way to the top of Trollvardegga (1049m) and Roaldshornet (1230m) but eventually I reached the final summit, and from there it was just 800m to the finish.
It was a relief to cross the finish line and see Hanne waiting, and the soup and bread was very welcome. It was now a pleasant afternoon, the sun was coming out, and it was a joy to sit and take in the view for a while, before taking the gondola down and going back to the hotel.
|View from the finish|