Norges råeste motbakkeløp

It all started from a joke with my best friend Heini, but after the weekend, I’m more than happy that joke soon turned into serious plans and we found ourselves basically in the middle of nowhere in the Norwegian fells.

My weekend started already on thursday evening when I flew to Oslo and to see Heini’s new apartment as well. On friday we went to pick up the rental car and headed up north with almost 500km of driving ahead. We drove first the E6 until just a bit before Stange we took right to road 3 towards the Birken-familiar towns of Elverum and Rena. From there we just followed the longerst river in Norway Glåma/Glomma (and the road 3) all the way up to Tynset where it was time to take the smaller road 30 towards the UNESCO world heritage town of Røros. From Røros the roads got smaller and hills got bigger as we continued on the 561 by the Aursund lake and finally on 705 to Stugudalen.

Rain in Røros
Main street in Røros
Old buildings in Røros
Sylan from the Væktarstua on friday night
Friday sunset

We had started the roadtrip with million pitstops at 11am and checked in to Væktarstua at 8pm. After being brave and trying rømmegrøt for the first time ever (never try anything new before races, right?) we were both ready to go to bed.

On saturday it was time for Storsylen Opp, which is a 11,4km log uphill running event with 1000m vertical climbing. It starts from the Nedalshytta in Tydal and goes all the way up to the top of Storsylen at 1762m. Storsylen is the highest peak in the Sylan mountain range at the Norway-Sweden border. With the heart issues I’ve had, I started in the “trim med tid”-group where as Heini, the super ironwoman she is,  naturally chose the fastest start. As I got to start one hour earlier we counted in advance that neither of us would have to wait long for the other at the top to come down together. And when I talk about coming down, I refer to the fact that Storsylen Opp really doesn’t end at the “opp” -part and crossing the finish line. After that you still need to run/walk/crawl the same 11,4km back to Nedalshytta.

I had made a promise to myself to not go out too hard considering the fact that on the day of Storsyle Opp it was only 5 weeks since my heart was declared officially healthy and I got the permission to start training normally and doing intensity as well. Right from the start I found nice group of fellow runners for the run/hike/scramble up the fell and the pace felt relatively easy on the first 9km with very nice and runnable terrain. With 2km left of the distance we were still at the 1000m altitude which meant 762m of vertical climbing for the last 2km and everyone can count how steep the hill was. I think that at some parts I used my arms more than legs to move forward and up on the rocks. To say it was technical for a flatland girl is quite an understatement, but fun it was!

After 2hrs and 15minutes I crossed the finish line. I wasn’t that tired, but happy I was. It was a really emotional moment to be up there, literally in the clouds, with bunch of other people. Knowing that 8 months ago there was a fear of never doing sports again and that 6 months ago I could barely walk 3km without being completely exhausted, made the moment and the experience so special. I was by no means fast, but that wasn’t the point of doing the event. The point was to get to wear a race number again, to challenge myself and to see if I’m still capable of doing the things I like the most. And I was. I actually felt like hugging everyone I saw up there. But being a typical Finn, I just kept the hugs to myself and sat up there watching the really fast boys and girls from the later start group reaching the top of Storsylen. One of the really fast ones was also Heini who was the second fastest woman at the top.

Going down took us ages. We stopped to take pictures and ascended the steepest part quite carefully to not take any stupid risks. After 5hrs in the beautiful fells, we were back to Nedalshytta. On the way down I saw again this one woman who had started at 8am (three hours earlier than I did) and whom I passed already on the way up. There she was climbing the most technical part of the hill and seemed really tired. I stopped to talk with her, knowing she was also a newbie to this kind of events and one of the few not from Norway or Sweden participating. She told me she was almost freaking out and scared of her life in the steep ridge of the hill. With a few reassuring words I sent her up to continue climbing. I know she reached the top, but I didn’t have the chance to tell her that she is my hero. So if you somehow happen to read this, you’re incredible!

From flat parts of the course
2,5km to go
I mål!
Scrambling the way to the top and back down
Scrambling the way to the top and back down
The top of hill was in the clouds
Amazing views
Happily on the way down
Snow at Syltjønna
So beautiful
Happy to call this girl my best friend!
Running (read slowly jogging) back down
During the first 1km of the event

The whole event was a very sympathetic one and it seemed that the whole village was somehow involved. There wasn’t much of the extra stuff and hype of big races, but everything worked well and everyone was nice. I loved every second I spent exploring the fells and I loved the little hotel Væktarstua and the whole region. Instead of the two nights, I should have stayed at least two weeks to see and do all the things I would have wanted to do.

On sunday morning we both woke up with pretty sore legs and whereas I just went for a little morning jog, Heini started the roadtrip back home with 4hrs of cycling. While she was cycling, I had the chance to stop for pictures, go see the little nearby villages and also see the Verdens største spark in Tynset before picking her up. On the way home we took a little different route and after Tynset and Alvdal on the road 3, we turned to the smaller road 219 in Atna and then to road 364/385 towards Ringebu to see parts of the Rondane Nasjonalpark on the way. From Ringebu it was then the safe bet of E6 to Lillehammer and all the way back to Oslo.


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