– The World’s Toughest Triathlon

Norseman Extreme Triathlon is the world’s toughest full distance triathlon.  The 225 km is divided between swimming, cycling and running. Eqology sponsored one of this year’s contestants, Asle Stensæter. Asle Stensæter is 37 years old, married and have a son aged four. The last four years Asle has been working as a rescuer in the Norwegian Air Ambulance AS. He was one of the 254 contestants whom participated in the Norseman-thriatlon the August 6th.

The triathlon was arranged the first time in 2003 with 21 contestants, and today there are more than 250 participants from 29 different nations. Some slots are given to Norwegian and foreign elite athletes, wile the others are given away by draft.

Text: Ingrid Campbell Pedersen

Asle has always been active,

and he has been interested in triathlons for a long time, but he has never acted on it. However, call it an early midlife crisis, when he turned 36 years old he decided to complete a so-called “ironman” before turning 40. That he would participate in the Norseman two short years later did not even cross his mind.

It is called “ironman” for a good reason. Norseman Extreme Triathlon has become a competition for the fittest and is considered the world’s toughest one-day sports competition. The participants starts at 05.00 am, swimming a distance of 3.8km in the Hardangerfjord all the way to Eidfjord. Thereafter a tough 180 km bike race waits, which takes the participants onto some of the steepest roads in Norway; from Eidfjord across Hardangervidda towards Geilo and Tinnsjøen. At Tinnsjøen they start on the 42.2km run (a full marathon) towards Rjukan and Gaustatoppen, 1.883 meters above the ocean. In total the participants climb 4.600 meters.

Asle prepared for the triathlon for two years. He has exercised efficiently approximately 10 hours every week, with focus on three weekly workouts. He conducted interval training, hill training and went on long bike rides. In addition he went for shorter runs and bike rides and swam when he had the opportunity. Asle believes that it is very important to make an exercise program and stick to it. Triathlon is relatively though as you have to master three different disciplines. Many people think the most difficult part is the swimming, however keeping such a high energy level for 12-18 hours is extremely challenging on its own.

In addition to exercising,

a healthy diet is extremely important when aspiring to get in top shape. Asle has a normal diet with varied food, fruits and vegetables. Additionally he takes nutritional supplements while working out.

Also important, and often called the 4th discipline in the race, is making sure you get the correct and sufficient nutrition during the race. This has to be planned and tested, especially on long distances. What normally works well, might be rejected by the body after 10 hours with high pulse. People easily loose their appetite in such situations and therefore forget to consume enough nutrition. If that happens during the race, you will hit the wall! Asle conducted test runs that lasted for seven hours in order to prepare for this.

This year the event was well covered by international press; American, French, German and Czech triathlon magazines were represented. Both because of how special the event is and because international acknowledged triathletes participated, among them the American triathlon legend Tim DeBoom. He has won the Ironman World Championship at Hawaii twice (2001,2002). As expected he won the Norsemen as well, but he said that Norsemen was the toughest race he had ever participated in- Ironman at Hawaii had been a piece of cake in comparison.

Asle kept to his plan, and despite extremely shifting weather conditions he ended up at 102nd place. An impressive accomplishment for somebody participating in a triathlon for the first time!

The equipment has to be in good condition. A full wetsuit is required and the bike must be in top shape. The helmet must be solid and approved. Two backpacks are recommended. One for the participant and one for the support vehicle. It should contain warm clothing, a headlight, food and drinks, a cell phone and money for the cafeteria at Gaustatoppen.

The event has two cutoff times. Participants that can’t reach a specific point before the cutoff time are not allowed to continue the race. Only the first 160 participants that reaches 32.5 km within 14 hours and 30 minutes is qualified to a black t-skirt and get to continue towards Gaustatoppen. Everyone that reaches this point later is rewarded with a white t-skirt. If one does not reach the next cutoff point before 15 hours and 30 minutes have passed, one is not allowed to continue the race.

Do you want to participate? Visit for more information.

Asle’s goal was completing the race as top 160 and qualify for a black shirt. He crossed the finish line as number 102, after 15 hours and 9 minutes. He reached his goal with god margins.