“The tears stream down my cheeks from my unblinking eyes. What makes me weep so? There is nothing saddening here. Perhaps it is liquefied brain.”
― Samuel Beckett
The Ironman distance in Triathlon is widely regarded as one of the most challenging physical and mental achievements that an athelete can endure.
Now, if you transpose this challenge to a much harsher environment,where you have to complete the same distance in each of the 3 disciplines of triathlon, but in 5ºC water, and with much steeper ride and run than usual, then you are in for a treat!
"After swimming almost 4km to the remote Eidfjord, participants must cycle 180 km over five mountain passes with a total of 4.1 km vertical ascent and then run 42 km to the top of the 1.9 km-high Mount Gaustatoppen."
From the Wikipedia:
«The Norsemanxtreme triathlon is a non-Ironman branded triathlon, point to point, race held in Norway annually. The distances are equivalent to those of an Ironman race with the swim starting from the loading bay of a car ferry, through the water of the Hardangerfjord fjord to the local town, Eidfjord. At Eidfjord the competitors transition onto their bikes and then cycle 180 km through the mountains, the first 40 km of which is uphill (reaching 1200 m above sea level). After transition two (at Austbygda, 190 m above sea level), the competitors then run 42.2 km of which the first 25 km (to Rjukan) are flat and following this they end up climbing the local mountain, Gaustatoppen, 1,880 m above sea level.
The race is "unsupported" so competitors need to have personal back up crews that follow them with cars to provide them with food and drink. The support crews also have to accompany their competitor up the final mountain climb due to the inherent dangers of being highly fatigued on a mountain. During this final mountain climb competitors are required to carry a backpack containing emergency food and clothing should the weather turn, whilst they are on the mountain.
Weather conditions and strict health checks and deadlines determine whether the race can be followed into the mountains and those that finish are given a black finishers top and take on the name "Norsemen". Those that do not make the cut-off time but complete the distance on a lower alternative route are given a white finishers top. The number of participants is usually limited to a certain number of competitors. Approximately 40% of the participants are from outside Norway; and about 15% are female.Norseman triathlon first took place in 2003 with 21 individuals at the starting line. The race record for (full swimming distance) for men is 10:22:37 by Lars Petter Stormo (Norway) in 2016 and for women 12:17:04 by Annett Finger (Germany) in 2012 for women.»
Eidfjord, swimming done here
Måbødalen, cycling done here
Gaustatoppen, running up the mountain