By the time Norseman Xtreme Triathlon closed its enrollment window on Saturday morning, almost 1200 athletes from 44 countries had signed up for the 11th edition of the event. Norseman, started in 2003, is the original extreme triathlon and remains the most popular of its kind worldwide.
The athletes who enrolled over the past week have all secured a ticket in the draw for one of the 250 much-coveted race slots. Hardangervidda Triatlon Klubb, which organizes Norseman, expects to notify enrollees of the results of the draw by mid-November. Participation at the popular race is restricted in consideration of the athletes’ safety on the unique and extremely demanding course.
“We are both proud and humbled to be organizing a race that is considered bucket list by so many excellent and dedicated athletes around the world. Norseman’s spectacular course and low-key atmosphere have lent us the reputation of a back-to-basics race that remains true to the core of triathlon. This is a legacy we are very proud of,” said Dag Oliver, General Manager of Norseman Xtreme Triathlon.
“While half of the enrollees are Norwegian, nations on all continents are represented; from Argentina to Australia, Belize to Belgium, South Africa to Singapore, and the Ukraine to the USA. We hope our final starting list will have the same diversity,” explained Oliver. “This year, France represents the greatest increase in interest. Other major triathlon nations like the UK and Germany will also have a large number of athletes in the race. And we are happy to note that our Swedish neighbors have now really discovered Norseman.”
While the number of participants is limited, the organizers have shown no restriction in the physical and mental challenges they have concocted for the athletes. The race starts at 5am with a jump off a ferry for a frosty 3.8km swim in the scenic Hardangerfjord, after which the athletes embark on a 180km cycling leg, crossing the Hardangervidda mountain plateau and five mountain passes with up to 10% average gradients and a total elevation of almost 5000m, well on par with the more demanding legs of the Tour de France. The race finale is a full marathon run that includes a massive climb of 1400m over its final 17km, to the finish line at Mt. Gaustatoppen, at 1850m above sea level.
With limited capacity, the legendary Norseman Xtreme Triathlon remains an exclusive, yet egalitarian, no frills event. Adding to the atmosphere is the fact that athletes must organize their own support teams. The athletes who make it to the top are all awarded the same prize: a simple black finisher t-shirt.