Ultrabirkebeiner 2014

Friday evening, packing. 20:00, getting into the car and driving to Lillehammer. Weather is nice, sunny. The Stadium is easy to find, huge hall, with lots of merchandise. Registering, getting the T-shirt, number, and a map of the trail. Seems crowded, but mostly this is due to 21km race. Finding a nice carpark just above the stadium building. Short walk. Nice sunset. Sleeping in the car (first night in the new car). 5:00, waking up, quick breakfast, and walking to the bus stop. Two or three busses take close to 200 runners to Sjusjoen for the start. No toilets on the start, so there is a longish queue to the only toilet in the registration building. Starting with over 20min delay. The trail quickly becomes single-trail that is hard to overtake on, and the running is initially a bit congested. It stretches after the first 4-5 kms.

Most of the trail is single-path, with rather rocky down- or up-hill sections. Some places a bit wet and soft, getting the shoes wet pretty early in the race. The trail is generally well marked, with white-tape hanging from branches of trees. There are few forest areas, but most of the first 40km is pretty open country. Getting hot and sunburned. Some sections are on wet snow (200-300m at most). The flat road-running shoes are not helpful there. The shoes also fail badly on the rocky downhill sections, where hitting the sole of my feet is rather painful. I run with small groups, or alone in places. The trail makes it really hard to look around – I have to almost constantly look at where to place my feet.

For the final 15km the ultra trail joins the 21km race. This is the highlight of the race – the runners all around, with great atmosphere. I’m not well prepared, have not practiced trail running enough, and the 10days of flu or whatever that was takes its toll. After initial 10km I switch to my training pace, of about 6min/km, then to survival pace of about 8min/km or so. In survival mode for most of the run, picking up slightly at the final few kms. Totally exhausted and shuttered. Notes for next year: prepare, do not take the race as casual; take proper trail running shoes; apply sunscreen; be healthy for the race.


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