Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Norseman is less than 5 days away.  We will be there.  Anticipation is running high for this weekend as 600 athletes will take part in the 10th anniversary of the purest triathlon on the planet.  We asked our friend Tim DeBoom and last year's winner to share a few thoughts as we head into the race.

Having been a competitive swimmer since the age of six, and then embarking on a professional triathlon career for the past 18 years, I can honestly say that I have swum in some amazing places.  However, usually the swim leg of a triathlon is an afterthought for me.  As long as I put in my typical training, I do not do much else to prepare for specific venues.  This changed last year when I decided to do the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon.

I read the stories and talked to past participants about jumping into the darkness from the boat, the numbingly cold water, and the tall granite walls that surrounded the fjord.  For the first time, I was a little apprehensive about the swim leg of a triathlon.  There were many unknowns that could only be answered by jumping into the Hardangerfjord.

When I arrived in Norway and made my way to the start village of Eidfjord, I was overcome with the beauty of my surroundings.  I was still nervous about the water and the challenge of the rest of the course as well, but excitement was creeping in and beginning to overtake the apprehension.

The fjord was majestic.  Huge granite walls plummeted into the water and dropped to a depth of over 2500 feet.  Yes, it was dark, and it looked very cold.  The only way to finish my preparation for the race was to jump on in.  I grabbed my wetsuit and went down to a dock on the water.  My brother, Tony, and friend, Eric Wynn grabbed a canoe and paddled out to join me for an evening swim.

I jumped in and did the customary cold water sprint.  Once the chill in my suit subsided and the water began to warm against my body, I settled down and started swimming for real.  The water was very dark.  It was clean and clear, but so deep, that it appears black.  Every breath I took I saw the granite walls and snow melt falling into the water.  I had to stop several times to just gaze in amazement at my surroundings.  I was swimming in a fjord!  In Norway!  This was not something I ever really imagined myself doing.  It was definitely one of my lifetime highlights.  And yes, it is more memorable than any swim I’ve done in Hawaii.

DeBoom on top of the Gaustatoppen
Leading into the race and for future participants I have a few tips.  Aside from training in colder than normal water ahead of time I strongly suggest getting in the fjord before race morning- try the blueseventy/United Bakeries practice swim Friday morning!  This will help you decide if you need a neoprene cap or just a second swim cap.  It will also help you work out what tint of goggles to use.

On race morning you will be sitting on the boat for quite a while before the start.  I think they like to add to the nervousness of the day by making you wait out on the boat!  When the gate opens to jump off the boat, just get out there.  It is a good distance from the boat to the start line so you don’t want to waste time.  Just give a good primal yell and leap into the darkness below.  You’ll look back on that moment fondly at the end of the day. 

The Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is one of the toughest iconic races in all of endurance sports.  I put winning it at the top of my list of accomplishments.  You can watch the videos and talk to finishers, but you cannot really appreciate it without swimming, biking, and running to cross that finish line on top of the Gaustatoppen.  Good luck to all the lucky participants this year.  I look forward to welcoming you all to the club! 
-Tim DeBoom

Follow blueseventy on Facebook and Twitter sending out updates from the event.  Learn more about the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon here: www.nxtri.com

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