Norway is a place of unending natural beauty, a landscape that belies its savage nature. It’s created a culture of people with a reputation for toughness. Vikings were never known for being meek or mild.
As such, it makes sense that one of the world’s most iconic races, Norseman, is one of the toughest. With a mantra of “This is Not for You,” they only encourage those with an iron will to join the select 240 entrants each year. The Norseman starts with participants jumping off a barge and swimming 2.4 miles in an ice-cold fjord. The swim is followed by a 112-mile ride with over 10,000 ft of elevation and finished with a 26.2-mile marathon that’s less running, and more hiking up a rocky mountainside to the finish—nearly 6,000 feet above sea level. Add changing weather, and you have just a cacophony of possibilities… none is usually easy or good.
The race has seen its share of champions, including Quintana Roo athlete and defending race champ Jon Sæverås Breivold, of Oppegård, Norway, who won in 2022 and ’21. Longtime Quintana Roo stalwart Allan Hovda of Norway also lined up to chase his 12th finish and add to his three career victories at Norseman.
It saw a wild card take the start….a very wild wild card. Legendary Ironman World Champion Sebastian Kienle made a trek from his home in Germany to take on the icon of Norway and bring the title out of Scandinavia and back to Deutschland. It would be a tall ask.
A cool, cloudy, and windy day dawned at the start, as the horn blew to kick off an epic race. It was Kienle first out of the water and to charge early on the bike with a three-minute gap on the defending race champ Breivold. Patiently piloting his V-PR, Breivold chipped away the lead of the Uberbiker. At the 75-mile mark, Breivold captured his quarry and assumed the lead.
“I quickly understood that he was determined to hang on for as long as he could,” Breivold said. “I decided to launch my real attack at my favorite climb, Imigfjell. I went steady-hard from the bottom and averaged 350 watts until the gap was created.”
And what a gap it was. By T2, he had a solid 10-minute, 30-second gap into the run, after averaging 282 watts for the ride. Like all competitors at Norseman, the run was more of an exercise in surviving, and battling Zombie Hill. Thanks to the ever-changing weather (and lightning strikes atop the finish on Mount Gausta), the finish was rerouted.
The victory was still as sweet, as Breivold took the win ahead of Kienle, and Hovda claimed the final podium spot in third. Coming across the finish for his third straight Norseman victory, Breivold was resolute.
“Hat trick complete,” he said. “To race against a world-class athlete on this course was really special.” He said. “Congrats to Allan with third place and that 10th Norseman completed.”
Global Triathlon Network was there to capture the battle between the young upstart in Breivold, and the legendary Kienle. Watch the drama of one of the most iconic races in the world unfold in their video below.
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