High above the clouds | Tromsø Sky Race
In between my adventure in the Lyngen Alps and my trekking through Reinheimen and Sunnmøre I spent a few days in Tromsø, where the Tromsø Skyrace takes place. The event has several races, with Blamann Vertical (2,7k with 1044m elevation), Bøntuva tour-race (15k / 770m), Tromsdalstinden Skyrace (28k / 2000hm) and Hamperokken Skyrace (53k / 4600hm). There seems to be a lot of variation in technical difficulty. The most difficult is the Hamperokken. Tromsdalstinden shares part of this route and is recommended as an introduction to the crazy yet appealing sport of sky-running. And if there's one thing I have learned in Norway, it is to never underestimate the mountains, so I wisely and prudently choose to join in the Tromdalstinden Skyrace, hooray!
In the previous edition, the Hamperokken and Tromdalstinden races started above the skiing slope of Fløya. This year, the start and finish of the race is in the center of Tromsø at the harbor, so we get to cross the bridge over the fjord twice, providing some extra elevation. At 8am I go cheer on the brave men and women going to Hamperokken while they are crossing the bridge, and a few hours later I am toeing the starting line of another amazing adventure.
The first few kilometers are concrete, along the harbor, passing two statues of a stern (or grumpy?) looking Roald Amundsen and crossing the bridge to get to the start of the first climb to the ski station. The road stays open for traffic, so the runners have to keep on the footpath, making passing by impossible. Thinking about what awaits me, I don't consider this to be such a bad thing.
A flatlander in the mountains
Once we get past Ishavskatedralen, the fun really begins. A single trail climbing pretty steep to 670m gets you to the only aid station of the course (the Hamperokken has a second aid station in Breivikeidet). Clif bars, water and fruitgels, oranges, bananas, cake and cheering Norwegians... Basically everything you need to get up and down a mountain.
The proper fjellhopping starts immediately after leaving the aidstation. Climbing and descending above the treeline over grassy paths and rocks with every possibility to leave the path and stretch the legs. Escpecially the descends feel like absolute freedom, and in the company of a few Swedes I have an absolute blast. The following climb gets us through rockier and grim terrain and to the summit of Tromdalstinden, hidden in the fog. The only mandatory kit for this race was a windstopper, but I'm glad I also packed two buffs. I try to keep moving fast, but it's clear I have no experience whatsoever with running on this terrain.
After reaching the summit, the more technical part of the trail starts, a descent of 2k over boulderfields. While I do my best to keep my legs and knees intact, cheerful Norwegians are passing me by from all sides. At a certain moment, I see Tom Owens, the eventual winner of the Hamperokken race, flashing by at a pace I don't really grasp. Seeing is believing, but still...
Coming out of the boulderfield the path clears and we are thrown into a more swampy bit, after which we reach the checkpoint again, with cheering ("heya heya!") locals. I'm falling more and more in love with this beautiful country and it's hospitable people.
My flatlanderquads are clearly not used to all this descending, so I arrive pretty knacker (but still in one piece!) at the bottom. After 4u30 and roughly 33k I reach the finish line, where I get a high five of none other than Emelie Forsberg, making me doubt wether I should wash these hands ever again. "Tusen takk!" doesnt' even come close.