Hi again! Here’s a second, and more complete installment of my original post from yesterday. We walked down to the Sandnes Marina docks at about noon yesterday and the entire men’s field boarded three different boats to make the journey towards Lysebotn. The Lysebotn Uphill race has become one of the most popular summer events in Norway. Over 1.5 million TV viewers tuned in to the NRK broadcast of this 7.5km roller ski climb in 2013. The course climbs from sea level to the top edge of the cliffs overhanging the Lysebotn fjord. It is, by far, the most spectacular hill climb event I’ve had the chance to be a part of.
After a 1.5hr boat trip through the islands north of Sandnes and then winding 42km up the Lysebotn Fjord, we finally arrived at the start of the climb. The race started with a 1km flat which then quickly ramped up to an eight to ten percent grade for the rest of the climb. At about 1.5km the road entered a dark tunnel. When I say dark, I mean that for certain points it was impossible to see the man in front of you. At this point in the race, the pack was relatively close together, and with a field of almost 100 men, this made for a challenging race environment for the kilometer-long tunnel.
Soon we came out the other side of the tunnel and on to the winding switchbacks which would take us all the way to the top. Tim and I were in a pack of ten or so guys towards the front of the field as we came out of the tunnel. I was redlined and tried to hang on as long as I could but eventually lost contact with about 3.5km to go. Tim stayed with that group and ended up in 15th. I placed 35th and was happy with that considering that most of the best biathletes and cross-country skiers were present in the field.
The final two kilometers of the event were lined with hundreds of spectators and it felt like a Tour de France-style mountain top finish, complete with the finish lane, overarching sponsor-banners, and no less than four helicopters circling the race. It was quite an experience and I’m glad to have been a part of it. I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the actual race, but you can see some videos of past Blink competitions at their website, http://www.blinkfestivalen.no.
Below you can see some photographs I took on the boat ride to and from the event. There’s also a few pics of the start area before the women’s race. You can see the tv helicopter hovering above the fjord if you look closely.