The road to Xreid

The (nominally) 105 km Xreid race across Jotunheimen is a whole new level of challenge for me. The course is unmarked, and since the race moves every year there's no way to know how long it will take. There's a 30 hour cut off, but the race directors have adjusted both the cut off times and the course (during the race!) in previous years.

Am I ready? Can you every be ready for an undertaking of this magnitude?

Coming into CP3 after a long day on the Xreid course. Photo: Audun

I was able to put in two good weeks of training after recovering from Ecotrail. In some ways I think these final weeks were not so much about physical fitness as mental. After a winter of chasing speed, I was relearning the patience to move slowly through vaste, mountainous terrain.

Hiking some steeps on Rasletind (not actually on the Xreid course but nearby). Photo: Audun.

I went to Beitostølen for the weekend to put in some miles on the Xreid course, running the course from checkpoint 2 at Tyinholmen to checkpoint 3 at Bygdinvegen. This is the section I will being running at night, and I was glad to have previewed it. I was surprised at how much mental energy went to staying on the virtually nonexistent trails.

There was also a fair amount of (rotten) snow on course, but I'm hoping the sun and high temps that have prevailed for the last couple of weeks will have taken care of it.

Snow on Rasletind. Photo: Audun

One thing is for sure: the scenery is big and beautiful! The weather forecast for race day is excellent, so I might even be able to enjoy it.

Views on the way up Bitihorn, a big climb that comes 90K into the race.
Two weeks out from race day was my last big training weekend. I spent it in Trysil, at a cabin with a group of running enthusiasts, including Xreid hopefuls Bjørnar, Tyler and Pål. We didn't only run; we poured over maps and discussed our impending doom. I have a detailed spreadsheet of gear and ideal splits, but I know at some point it will all break down. This feels like a real adventure; I'm facing true unknowns.

Pouring over maps with Tyler in Trysil. Photo: Bjørnar

Bjørnar, Tyler, Pål and I packed bulging race vests and went out on Saturday to collect vert. I had packed all of the required equipment for Xreid, which doesn't leave space for much else in a 12L race vest.

The ultrarunners are ready to go. Photo: Fredrik

We started the 'run' by climbing the full length of Trysil's ski slopes (700 vertical meters) in one go. I got out my poles and settled into that comfortable forever pace. 

Hiking up ski slopes in Trysil. Photo: Pål

After enjoying the view from the top of the mountain, we followed a route we had pieced together the previous day on little used trails - and occasionally off trail! 

Off-trail descent from Trysil mountain.

It was a long, slow, hot day of route finding, the perfect dress rehearsal for Xreid. On the way back, we picked up some smooth, runnable trails for the first time in hours. I positively flew along, feel fresh and free. I hope I get to feel just a fraction of this during Xreid, I thought.

We summited Trysil mountain a second time before heading back to the cabin to luxuriate in the special kind of fatigue that comes from a long day in the mountains. 

The tippy top of Trysil mountain.
To quote a recent essay on "You start because of a dream, but you finish because you become good at talking yourself out of giving up." Hopefully I have enough determination (and quad muscles) to carry me through.

For those interested, I'll post the live tracking link to my Instagram profile when it becomes available!

- The Wild Bazilchuk


  1. Go Molly go!!!! We want to follow you! And your mom will be spending the night with us on Saturday night so we can send collective Strazilrand energy your way!!!!

    1. Thanks, I need at the Strazilrand energy I can get! Check out the live tracking here: (I'm bib 47)


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