Norseman Xtreme Triathlon
World Championship

It took quite a while before we emerged on the surface!

World Championship

Completed: August 5, 2023
The biggest challenge: Jumping off a ferry into an icy fjord
The catchphrase: “It took quite a while before we emerged on the surface!”

With my coach Lukáš Bílek, I have been preparing for this race for almost a year. Why? Maybe the description of the Zalaris Norseman Triathlon will explain a bit more about the level of difficulty. This is what it says on their website:

“This is not for you. Nothing personal. But it’s not. This is for people with fight. Resilience. And minds tougher than their bodies. No hand-holding. No sugar-coating.”

See? Norseman is one of the most difficult but at the same time the most beautiful triathlons with a length of 226 kilometers, which includes everything truly Norwegian: swimming through an icy fjord, cycling through the mountains, and running with an elevation of almost two kilometers.

Just getting to the start of the race in the Norwegian Eidfjord was the first challenge: all the contestants had to overcome a four-meter jump from the ferry into the water and swim to the start. The only orientation point in the 5 AM darkness (not that the dark mattered to me much, haha) was a signal fire on the shore. What followed was a 4 km swim in the icy Hardanger fjord.

Thanks to the neoprene suits, me and my sports guide Marek Peterka managed to finish the first part of the triathlon in 1 hour 32 minutes 56 seconds, and then swiftly continued on our tandem bike towards the Norwegian mountains.

“Lucky you, you can’t see the climb,” Marek told me when we started to pedal on the first mountain, with a 180 km ride still ahead of us. It got cold in the hills, but luckily our Brynje thermo underwear and clothing kept us comfortable. I was only sweating when we rode through tunnels.

We ended up spending 7 hours and 12 minutes in the saddle, only to get off and start running the final marathon distance of 42 km. At the same time, the weather alternated between rain, wind, and sun, and the last 6 kilometers presented us with a thunderstorm and a heavy downpour at the top of a hill with a cute nickname: Zombie Hill. Its difficulty was more mental than physical – once you pass the rail crossing at the 25th kilometer, you’re just running uphill all the way to the finish, and if you try to slow down, it only gets worse.

“Ondra, did you see it?!” Marek blurted out, almost forgetting that I couldn’t see anything. “Lightning struck right next to us! What a beast!” After finishing, we learned that the remaining competitors had to be transported by bus – the storm got way too dangerous.

But we did it! We crossed the finish line in a total time of 14 hours 35 minutes 57 seconds and thus became World Champions in the para category of the race. Among the healthy competitors, we took the 133rd spot and were honored to receive a black jersey, reserved only for the top 160 Norsemen.

I’m sharing the victory with my entire team, which provided help and care during the race and the long journey to the north, as well as with the partners who support me – without them, I couldn’t have made it!

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