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First Race Of The Fall

Four days ago Jakob & Jakob celebrated the one-year-anniversary of our blog! Looking over the 101 posts we’ve jointly written since then it’s safe to say that we’ve been through a lot during the last twelve months, not least the adventure of our lives (so far…): the 28th Marathon des Sables in Morocco five months ago. Even though we both started running marathons together several years ago the adventure of this blog had a more humble beginning, namely the 15 km trail run Nordmarkstravern in the forests north of Oslo. Well, we’ve come almost full circle since then with this year’s race just around the corner next Saturday morning. Only this time, I’ll be attempting the 30 km track as a final general rehearsal before the 50 km ultra race Alesia Trail in less than three weeks. Hopefully I’ll meet up with my friend and coach Stefan at the starting line of ‘Travern.

But the season actually began yesterday with the classic (every single annual trail running competition is a classic in Oslo) Sørkedalsløpet, a race I have never run before. Last week I got an sms from the Queen of Sloperunning herself, Hedda, who asked if I’d like to tag along on the 11 km trail race this week. Sørkedalsløpet is run about 40% on gravel roads, 30% on grassy meadows and 30% on tight and slippery forest trails and is advertized as not having the meanest climbs and descents of the fall races. Since Hedda is a bit quicker than me she ventured into a faster starting group than me (sub 50) while I settled for the one next one (sub 53) both of us reasoning that it’s better getting pulled along in a faster group than getting slowed down on small forest trails by a slower one. The cannon (I kid you not – they had a CANNON lined up on the meadow next to the race) suddenly went off, startling all of the ladies and kickstarting the race.

11 km is a fair distance but still not too long which is why you tend to get unwanted hubris into your head thinking that you should be able to push yourself a bit harder than is probably healthy. After 3k I felt almost like throwing up but pushed on regardless, determined not to let a 10-year old kid wearing a blue shirt pass me again. The race was pleasantly undulating and the forest trails entertainingly twisty, narrow and muddy. As soon as the runner in front of me started lagging behind the runners in front of her or him, I took a step sideways into the bush and raced past, risking the health of my ankle several times. I can tell you that I have probably never been so close to my lactate threshold for so long during a race like yesterday. My trail and uphill training the last three weeks on Marstrand payed off big time and I felt like I flew past runners on the uphill stretches tip-toeing along in a furious pace. But even though I literally ran as fast as I could downhill I always got caught up by some overweight bald guy with horribly colour-coordinated gear on my way down. Extremely annoying! Must have something to do with gravity I guess. I couldn’t wait until I could pass them all on an uphill stretch, gloating with a huge smile on my face. The last downhill 300 m was a muddy, sloppy mayhem of rocks and roots but somehow I managed to pass several middle-aged ladies irritatingly finishing just behind the little blueshirted ten-year old.

Still, I finished in 52.34, trailing Hedda by only 57 seconds and proud of not getting more thoroughly beaten than that. Don’t forget to come and cheer for us by Sognsvann on Saturday when we run Nordmarkstravern!

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