Birkebeiner Race Report

June 11th I ran my second trail race in Lillehammer. The first being EcoTrail Oslo in May. This race was really fun, even though I could not have music to keep me going. Trail running makes me have to focus on my form and where I step, so the race really felt like it went by really fast since it was so refreshing running through the woods.

Marius and I drove over on Friday night, and thanks to how long the day is, we had beautiful views the whole drive. Due to a rock slide we had to take a detour that added an hour onto our drive, but it turned out to be very fun. There were lots of sheep wandering around the roads giving us a good laugh, and trying to squeeze around corners with cars coming in the opposite direction kept us awake. We got to the cabin at 2:30AM and went straight to bed.

Lambs crossing the road on our detour

Lucky for me, I didn't have to start running til 1PM on Saturday. The weather was perfect for running. Not too much sun and a nice breeze. I didn't feel too nervous because I wasn't expecting a personal record. The profile of the race included 300 m of incline, so I told Rigmor to expect me to use a good 2 hrs on this course.

I started running, and right away it was just up up up. The first 5 miles were up hill, and thanks to living in Bergen I have had plenty of training with running up and down  hill. I felt so good when I was able to run up the entire way and not stop to walk at all. I slipped by all the runners (who I joke were probably from the flat part of Oslo). The hills came easy for me and I didn't mind getting my $32 Saucony shoes dirty.

The drink stations were perfectly placed and I really felt in good form. Then in the last two kilometers a woman next to me tripped and fell pretty hard. I stopped to help her since she had blood on her forehead and was moaning. I sat with her for a minute to make sure she was ok, and then she told me to keep going. Finally when I saw some volunteers I let them know about her and tried to make up for the lost time to the finish.

The last 200 m were downhill and I flew past so many others who had passed me before when I stopped for the lady. I listened for my fans, but I thought maybe I missed them. I heard one voice holler "Good job, Justine! Well done!" was Morten! He is my age, the son of our cabin neighbors. I went through the shoot and got my recovery drink and hot dog and then walked around a little to see if I could find Marius. There they were, waiting to watch me cross the finish line, expecting me to use 2 hours. I was 6 minutes faster than I expected.

Finishers "Diploma"

We walked around the sports expo before getting ourselves icecream and driving back to the cabin. I even got an extra award called "sølvmerket". I tried to figure out what that meant, but I'm still confused. Now they got me hooked to run it again next year and get another "sølmerket". We cooked food over the fire pit and stayed up til 2AM planning the next wedding.

On Sunday we walked up a small "mountain" that we usually ski up in the winter, ate an early dinner and drove back to Bergen. The rock slide was cleared off the road so we didnt' need to take the detour. That was a relief! Beautiful views again on the way back to Bergen and clear blue sky.

The result after the cleaned up rock slide about 1 hr drive from Bergen

Beautiful panoramic views at a nice rest stop after a 25km long tunnel

Now I'm sitting at the airport with my new colleagues. We are trying to fly to San Sebastian, Spain, but our plane has engine problems so we are hoping to get on the next flight at 2PM. We'll see how it goes. So the next blog update will probably be relatively soon about how this trip goes --- if we get out of Bergen! 

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