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