from sea to summit: blåmann vertical

Race report: BLÅMANN VERTICAL, Tromsø Skyrace, Norway

Distance: 2.7 km
Elevation: +1044 m
Route: from sea to summit, Store Blåmann
Conditions: Cool, foggy, humid, lighter above the clouds.
Rank: 15 kvinner,  58:19

The first race of the Tromsø Skyrace series, and of our northern trip, the Blåmann Vertical ran today just outside Tromsø, Norway. Most of the racers met in the city this afternoon, and rode buses to the start, a few tents beside the road. It was damp and cool, and possibly fortunate that the fog swallowed a majority of the mountain above us. When it was time to start, we all corralled toward the sea, so that our heals were nearly in the water. From sea to summit, following some of the fastest mountain runners in the world up through the clouds, here we go! 

The start was normal enough, everyone sprinting forward, hoping to avoid the backups as the runnable trail narrowed to single file and funneled into steep climbs. Soon after the start, this race became something different than the VK that I knew. We did not use poles, there was no chance to stabilize into a steady rhythm, left right left right. Everything was irregular and awesome! Soon after departure, after soft, slippery mud and stumps, we were already using our hands to pull ourselves over climbing passages, leaping from snow fields, angling across slanted rock faces. Everything was wet and slick, looking for grip for your hands and hoping your shoes wouldn't slide down (or the shoes above you wouldn't slide down either). This was so much fun that I almost didn't want to reach the top, one of crags I could see above me, a dark ghostly point appearing through the thinning clouds. I turned a corner, and was face to face with Killian Jornet, cheering and taking photos of us on our way up the Blåmann - now that's not something that happens everyday! A little more climb and some bolder hopping and already I was at the finish line, where the racers ahead of me were  all balanced on rocky perches like a herd of colorful chamois.

I didn't perform as well as I hoped, and yes, it was the first race of the season that Derek finished ahead of me, but it was about as much fun as I can imagine, so I didn't care about my time today. We had just participated in something special, the first Blåmman Vertical. This wasn't a typical VK, this was something rare, wild and free, playful, and just a little crazy. 

After some time on the summit talking, meeting other racers, all that was left was to go back down the way we came up. 

Thanks to all the organizers for an incredible event, and congratulations to the winners, Stian Hovind-Angermund and Emelie Forsberg. Full results here.

Post-race photos, coming back down:

Want more race videos? Check these out:

Tromsø Skyrace 2015 Blåmann from Red Cross RPAS Team Tromsø Norway
Blåman Vertical 2015 by Tommy Stoa


sight seeing

Tomorrow we are running the Blåmann Vertical in Tromsø, so today we are sight seeing, a.k.a. running 20km in the mountains! We know that warm sunny days are a rare gift in northern Norway, so we plan to make the most of it. We started on a trail leading away from our camp site, and before long found ourselves in a lush green bowl surrounded by streams and waterfalls and rocky routes upward. 

Nothing tastes as good as cold clean water from the rushing streams, so we stopped often to enjoy a drink.

We reached a snowy patch and run up and slid down - repeated several times for fun.

It's the day before a race, so we don't want to tire ourselves out too much - better take some photo breaks and stop and admire the view.

From the ridge, we spotted a group of reindeer over the other side. Dark dots on the snow- this is as  close as we would get to them on our trip.

A lovely view from the summit of Tromsdalstinden, 1238M. (We didn't know we would be running Sunday's race- or even that it was a similar route, but we were happy to have seen some of the course, especially the rocky descent).

We took another pause to lie in the soft shrubs and enjoy the sunshine before racing through the birch forest and back to camp. Tomorrow is the VK!



Derek and I are headed north! We will be running two races north of the arctic circle:  a vertical kilometer in Tromsø, Norway and a 120km ultra in northern Sweden. It's going to be a great 2 weeks of races, running, camping, celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary, and whatever happens along the way! 

Check out the races: Tromsø Skyrace and Tierra Arctic Ultra and follow our adventures with #stromsgønord 


ubaye summer

Our mountain loving friends planned a summer vacation in Ubaye and invited us to tag along...of course we did. We latched onto their first few days of relaxing, hiking, running, and swimming. We also spent plenty of time on the patio, enjoying the view, eating good food, walking in the dark, playing in the yard, and climbing too.   



Today was one of those days that I just can't go indoors. Running, yoga, then a bike ride, just to be out and enjoy all of the beautiful day!


30km day

I couldn't resist this clear sky to go for a long run on the ridge today. I ran some intervals for the duration of the climb- intervals have become my friend this summer- and a good distraction for passing some hours broken into minute or thirty second pieces.

A few kilometers along the ridge, I found a nice flat spot to eat and take a nap. I love napping during long mountain days, and it helps me spend extra time up high. It's not lazy...it's all part of race recovery!

After my break, I still had a long section of ridge to cover. By the time I reached Catheline, I was starting to feel tired. I started to feel the heat and the tiredness on the dry, dusty descent to Crozet, but I aimed to Laura's house, made a loop around her block to make an even 30km, and sprawled out on her back lawn to finish. This was a great place to end my run, especially since it turned into a fun night of feasting on Indian take-away (thanks Dan!) and chilling on the patio- a fresh shower, and a dip in the kiddie pool too! It's farther for me to run to their house after the move...but I still made it!