Stranda Fjord Trail Race
Race Report 2021
Johannes after Lievarden
Photo by Joakim Dokka Nordstad Photography
Stranda is a lovely village by Storfjorden close to Ålesund and Geiranger. Each year in August a trail race is arranged with start and finish in the middle of Stranda village. It is a rather tough trail with lots of scrambling and technical downhills and that goes for all three distances 25, 48 and 100 kilometres. It is perhaps not the perfect race to start with for a beginner but very well worth it if you have run some more easy races before.
It was finally time for the race I had been looking forward to for years! The photos on the website are stunning beautiful simply pushing you to decide to sign up for the race.
We were on a round trip in Norway not far away from Stranda and decided to give the race a shot! Since this was in 2021 there were still spots left a week before the race. On a normal year it is usually sold out months before. As the icing on the cake the weather forecast was superb: no wind, sunny and some 20 degrees Celsius.
The choice of races was easy for me, 25 kilometres. I am simply not trained enough to run farther in that kind of terrain.
The first part of the race might seem easy as it is a gravel road for 3 kilometres. The drawback, however, is that it comes with an elevation of 350 metres. If you can manage run there and still have strenght enough for the rest of the uphills during the race, just go for it! Otherwise it might be wise to save on your legs for the rest of the uphill parts.
After 3 kilometres you get to the start of the beautiful hiking route to the top of Lievarden. Finally reaching the top you have gained an elevation of some 700 metres and you will get the first glimpse of Storfjorden below.
From here follows a really nice path along the ridge for almost a kilometre. There is also the first aid station. Do fill up your bottles here! I did the mistake and did not since I thought the next aid station was not far away. I totally miscalculated the time I had ahead of me to get there so I ran out of both energy and water before reaching it.
A few hundred metres later after the aid station you reach ”the wall”, a 45 degrees climb up to the next top, Mönet. Not the perfect thing for someone that is afraid of heights like me and I was also a bit tired so I took a super short rest to catch my breath before starting to climb.
The climb finally turned out pretty ok and it actually gave me some time to recover as I climbed behind a guy who held the most perfect speed.
Finally reaching the top of Mönet I had just enough time to think that ”that was not too bad” before I looked up and saw what was ahead of me. Seemingly never ending blocks of stones all the way up to Fremste Blåhornet, the next and also the highest peak along the race. From here I had some 800 hundreds meters of, partly steep, elevation climbing across rocks to get the top.
Luckily we were a bunch of people with the same goal so I found my place in the line and walked. And walked. All the way up.
Finally at the top of Fremste Blåhornet I had already climbed about 1,500 metres of height of 1,700 in total and a distance of 10 kilometres. In two hours. I figured I was doing just great! This was going to be a really good day! And what a view from up here! Amazing!
Until I suddenly realized that I was supposed to go down the same way I came up, which did not exactly offer an nice and easy downhill run. At least not for me. For the Norwegians surrounding me, yes! All the people that I had had such a nice company with on my way up started running down. I could not believe my eyes! Running here?
After half an hour climbing down those rocks I finally reached the ridge between Fremste Blåhornet and the next top, Heimste Blåhornet. On the ridge a rescue team was waiting for people that might get hurt running down. I realized that even though I walked really slowly all the way down I was probably one of them with the highest risk of stumbling or falling.
Next top! Heimste Blåhornet. Same story with blocks of stones and some scrambling to get up there. Pretty ok even though I was really tired after the last downhill. By now I was also running out of energy and had almost no water left.
I could see the next aid station far down below. I just had to climb down this steep mountain first and that probably took me some 40 minutes. Suddenly 3,5 hours had past.
After the second aid station we were promised some easy downhill run and I was really looking forward to that. Surprisingly, or maybe not, it turned out there was no path. Instead there were some flags thrown out on a mire for severeal kilometres. It certainly took its time even though this probably was an ”easy” year since it had been very sunny and warm the weeks before. I can´t imagine running across this mire when it is wet and muddy!
Finally, at the top of Dregetua and about 6 kilometres left there was a path. A real path. Full of stones and roots, yes, but a path! I tried to run as fast as I could and can´t say how relieved I was to finally reach a gravel road and then asphalt for the last kilometre.
Me in the middle.
Photo by Joakim Dokka Nordstad Photography
What did I think of the race?
It was just as beautiful as I could have imagined but such a difficult terrain. I was not prepared for that. I now realize that the trail races that I have taken part in before (in Sweden, Italy and France) were really easy races compared to this. Same length and metres of height but so different to run in, especially downhill. I guess time says some. Stranda Fjord Trail Race took me 5 hours and 40 minutes. Trail de Lacs in Font Romeau, France took me 4 hours. Same distance and elevation.
The week before the race we had walked a lot in the Norwegian mountains in the same type of terrain but somehow it had never occurred to me that anyone could run down those kind of steep mountains. I now know better!
For more information about the race and the different distances including some amazing photos, have a look at Stranda Fjord Trail Race.
Some other Trail running events
To maximize the views of wineyards we join the Italians and take part in a trail running competition in late October - the Ecomaratona Chianti Classico. It is also a perfect race to start with if you are new into trail running and want an experience of a kind. This competition offers half and full marathons...
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