Almost 400 runners from 15 different nations, among them the winner of the Extreme Skyrunning World Series this year, Jonathan Albon, started the climb up to Lievarden in pouring rain last Saturday (October 20) for the Stranda Fjord Trail Race.
Lievarden is the first peak on the SFTR course and usually provides the runners with a unique fjord view as the course follows the ridge high above. But on this occasion the fog kept the view well hidden, and the rain made the trail muddier than previous years, giving the runners extra challenges on their way to the highest and most alpine peak of the course, Fremste Blåhorn. The rain had also made the rocks slipper, meaning runners had to play it smart and move at a controlled pace down the scree, descending the ridge down to softer ground on the marshes towards Vardnakken.
Here in the lower terrain the visibility improved and the runners could enjoy some softer ground on the way down to the village of Stranda at sea level, where cheering locals welcomed them along the course. After refilling on food and drinks at the food station, the runners had only 10km left until the finish line at Strandafjellet. But the climb up to Roaldshorn averaged 13% gradient.
Even though most runners really felt the last climb up to Roaldshorn in their legs and lungs, everyone was smiling when they crossed the finish line and could enjoy the view of the fjord as the fog had lifted during the day, the rain had stopped and the sun was peaking through the clouds.
Albon won the men's race with a time of 4 hours 5 minutes 40 seconds, while his wife, Henriette, won the women's race with 5:09:47.