THE ARCTIC TRIPLE
LOFOTEN SKIMO 4000+
It was a while ago since I wrote any report. The winter has been all about training, mainly skiing, in some beautiful areas. And this race was the only one we planned to do.
Since the start of the Arctic Triple at 2017 we have had our eyes on the skimo race. The triple includes a triathlon and an ultra running race which covers the whole island. Once you’ve done the whole triple you are an Arctic Triple finisher! We though, had our intention only for the Lofoten Skimo with its 4000+ meters of elevation with 8 mountains.
In addition, we wanted to run the Lofoten Stage run, a 4-day stage run in beginning of June, with the same organizers, Kristian and Frank. But they have postponed it until 2024. We hope we can plan it for next year instead then.
How ever. Lina travelled from home in Åre to Svolvaer in Lofoten, and I from Germany where I spent the last weeks with my boyfriend. It was so nice to be together in the mountains again. We are rarely a part for longer periods, so 2 weeks apart felt long. :P
We had a perfect welcome in Lofoten with lots of snow and sun. And we had a powder blast with lots of skiing with two Italian guys whom we stayed together with the days before the race. Nicolo spontaneously also decided to start in the race.
The atmosphere in such a small race as Lofoten skimo is super nice. You can really feel that there is passionate organizers behind it, that want to do it special for every one that attend. Most of the people coming here, (all I would say) do this for a nice touring day in the Norwegian mountains, with some extra good training opportunity for those who want to push, where the course is marked and there are fika stops along the route.
Unfortunately, a strong wind during the night made us not be able to really enjoy the downhills as previous days. The race was not supposed to be too enjoyable... It was also predicted to be very snowy and windy in the morning. Which we thought then would be a super cold start. So, I had wool pants under the race suit and a long sleeve shirt in addition to the wind jacket. But it was really the “warmest” day and I was sweating and got so hot. I didn’t want to take off layers if the wind would suddenly come, even though it would have been more comfortable.
However, we had an early hotel breakfast at 5.30 and then everyone got on a bus for about half an hour to get to the starting point. The start area was just by the water in a bay. No one seemed to be nervous, just excited and happy for the day to come. Though as too often, everyone stood ready 10 meters behind the start line with 10 seconds to go. Lina and I stood at the start line. Because, why not? Everyone is getting out there, so why not be first? It will only be your problem to pass. I like to be first so that I can find my pace without stress. And on this event, everyone was more or less chatting the first kilometers along the flat parts before going further into the mountains. One of the most calm and nice starts I have ever done. :P
After a while 3 strong guys went first and after a little more while I told Lina to pass, because I know she is faster and has her own speed. It was absolutely no wind, though a bit white out, and the snow was packed... The wind during the night had blown away all the tracks from the course markers, and there wasn’t anyone who pre-skied the course. Therefor the first man had to do the tracks.
A French woman went in the same speed as me uphill to the first transition. Then when taking my skins off I was a bit too fast, and happened to got my boot in the ski in ski mode. A tiny mistake, but big enough for her to ski out first and disappear. And after that I was alone on the course for the entire time. The sight was zero. White out, but with the help of the skiers in front I followed their tracks down. By then the weather got better and on the second uphill the weather got clear and I could see the opposite mountain where we had skinned up and skied down. It looks always so cool with the ski pattern. Zig zags up and the rolling snakes downhill.
The volunteers on the top were so happy and nice. So, I just had a big smile on my face. Lina and the French girl were some minutes in front. But that downhill I started to feel as such a bad skier. Lactic acid directly and it felt as I was braking in all turns, which also took extra energy.
Down in next transition was the first aid station. A bit too early to take anything for me. But I sipped some coke before heading up again. We had skied powder in this valley some days before, so I new the tracks. It was nice, and I saw Lina a bit further up and the French girl just ahead of her. At this point I began to feel like I was on tour alone, and went from going slow to some fast sections, to slow again and then fast again, and so it went on pretty much the whole race. A few moments of race mode, and then touring pace again. It is difficult to push when you are out there all alone and it is so beautiful around you and you only hear your heartbeats and breaths. But I did both have a very good time and challenged myself on parts to push.
The ridge where we put on crampons was the best part for me on the race. It was overwhelming and peaceful in the same time, and I felt fortunate to be able to do this. A dash of lucky vibes splashed over me. With a panoramic view of the small, but still impressive mountains around me, the little fjords and the sea meeting the snow, and then me, all alone on this mountain ridge. I first embraced all of this by myself, but then realized I wanted to keep it as a memory on my phone as well. It was easy to bring it up in my backpack and film around as I walked/run with my crampons.
The course itself was pretty easy with not so steep nor technical difficulties, I would have preferred a bit more challenges. But that is to come on our own tours instead. This event is really for everyone to take part in which I also think is really good. This race day though, the downhills were the hard parts, at least with skinny skies, because of the packed snow that broke now and then. So, one could never trust it would hold beneath. In one of the downhills, I skied with full speed right into big icy part and fell so fast. One ski went up too, but luckily didn’t fly away for its own. Nothing more than that. But I got a bit chocked anyway as you do when you crash. And I really took it easy downhill after that. I didn’t want any stupid accident to happen.
I munched a Snickers and with full mouth I saw some flags 300 meters in front. Aaah, the aid station… Maybe could have been good to plan where to take energy, and know where the aidstation were, than only go on feeling. How ever, some coke and a filled water bottle again was great. I continued and saw I had lost a bit on Lina in front, probably she didn’t filled her bottle. That took some time for me and to put it down in the pack again…
The uphill was the longest one for the day, but with a middle section very flat. I had looked forward for the downhill because Lina and I had watched it from the other mountain and the powder turns from other skiers looked amazing. Now on the other hand, all was destroyed… I think I was a bit low on energy too, because it went really shitty for me and I stopped every 50 meters to calm down and not fall. On another downhill one ski got stuck and twisted my already bad left knee. So, it hurt, and also with equally packed snow here I was so afraid to get stuck with one ski again and twist or fall. With tears burning in my eyes, I, what felt like a lifetime, found myself at the bottom and could relax.
One last uphill and then the final downhill through the forest that passed the hut we’ve stay at with the Italians. It was a super fun part and I had skied it 3 times already. Many people were also cheering here and I had just a big smile and played down. Once reaching the road we were allowed to leave our boots and change to winter running shoes. It was very slippery, so I happily changed and put the skis on my pack and ran the last part into the village, passing the harbor and the sea, and then finish line on the main square. It was so nice atmosphere. I came just in time for the kids race which included some snow stair running, snowball throwing and ride tail tag.
We were served a yummy fish burger and fruit buns, and coffee. I didn’t drink coffee in the morning since I had pretty high pulse. So, all the race I really craved coffee. It tasted very good. :D
Energy during the race: One double Snickers, a handful sour candy from some nice volunteer at a top, 2 gels, (one caffeinated) 800ml Näak watermelon energy drink, 2 plastic cups of coke.
After many years of racing, I still don’t know if this was a good energy intake or not. I don’t calculate so much. I could probably have been munching more, but still, I just don’t think my pace had been faster. Until next time I should; wax skins, or use race skins, wax skis, be a better downhill skier and faster uphill skier, and a gopro on my helmet instead of the phone in a pocket. :P