The rain pattered on the roof. I woke up an hour before my alarm, looked out the skylight above my bed and saw only gray sky. I rolled over and slept again, but the weather was unchanged as Joni Mitchell started singing about sunny California on my alarm clock.
Well, at least I own wool boxer shorts.
It all started about a couple months ago when I saw an advertisement for Topp7 (Top 7), an event to get people out hiking in the local forest (Bymarka). The main route was 30 km, 1087 meters of vertical across 7 hill tops. That is when the idiot my head said, "Hiking my scrawy white left buttock! This is meant to be run!" I also thought that on June 3 the weather would be, well, summery. A pleasant morning jog.
5 degrees C and rain. Yup.
Top 1: Dad on top of Våtakammen, enjoying the view of Trondheim. His hands gesture says Why?
The trail started with a steady climb from sea level to Våtakammen at 286 meters. As we started about 5 minutes after the opening, we passed by about 500 people hiking up. Dogging people and dogs, I had an average heart rate of 185 all the way up the hill.
After Våtakammen we jogged across a couple of bogs to the nearby Geitfjellet - a very pleasant bit of trail. The fog had really settled by the time we reached Geitfjellet, so what should have been a fjord view was a panorama of grey.
Top 2: Dad enjoys the view from Geitfjellet
The journey continued around to the tiny top Tikneppen. On the way we played leapfrog with a couple other runners. We probably met about 15 people jogging like us, but we suspect some there was a pack of hardcore runners that left a few minutes before us and had a consistently higher pace.
Top 3: Me with the friendly volunteers on top of Tikneppen. Their job is to stamp our card to prove we've been to each top.
And then it got slippery. The steady rain combined with the churning of passing people's feet turn the small trails off of Tikneppen into thick mud. Dad especially had traction issues, and I was started to get a little cold as we jogged towards the next top. Well, at least I'm wearing wool boxer shorts!
Top 4: On Gråkallen, a usually panoramic view of Trondheim and the fjord was transformed into gray fog. Inspiring June weather!
The next top was the Big One - Storheia, at 565 meters is the largest top in Bymarka. The trails continued to be muddy, so much so that I was almost glad we we hit snow. Much less slippery!
April showers bring May... big patches of mud covered snow? Oh, wait, it's June. Storheia is partially visible in the background.
On top of Storheia, we were met by cheers - in a effort to keep warm in the wind and rain, the volunteers on top were jumping up and down and cheering at everyone approaching the top. Even though we had been out for over two hours, and my legs were started to cramp because of all the uphill, I smiled at the cheering. The biggest climbs were over!
Top 5: Cheerful on Storheia with eager volunteers in the background. I realize that my jacket is open in all of the pictures of me, this is because I opened to get my (not waterproof) camera out. It was cold enough that I ran with it closed the whole way.
Then started the long, muddy descent down to Grønlia, a cabin the heart of Bymarka. The trail was alternately muddy and wet, as we crossed multiple bogs. The water was freezing cold, and I completely gave up on keeping mud out of my shoes - it splashed all the way up my thighs. Dad started to lag as he fell repeatedly. There was a maximum speed that one could go without wiping out - about 6 km/h, according to my watch. I was demoralized by the slow pace, but hummed the Indiana Jones theme melody and imaged reaching a harder trail that we could run on.
At Grønlia we stopped briefly to suck down some calories - chocolate, energy gel and bananas. I had a lot of trouble eating, which is typical of me on long distance runs. My throat just doesn't seem to want to swallow.
A gradual climb up a forested trail from Grønlia brought us to the day's penultimate top, Henriksåsen, where a volunteer snapped a quick photo of us together. They said we didn't look tired at all, although I was feeling the opposite.
Top 6: Henriksåsen, a hill in the forest.
Fifteen minutes of jogging brought us to the last top, and we could look forward to 8 km of downhill. After all the slow going in the mud, I was ready to get my speed on!
Top 7: Victory on Lille Gråkallen (meaning little Gråkallen, it is the smaller neighbor of Top 4)
A 'short cut' across several bogs brought us to the downhill trail, and I let gravity take care of my legs. Finally the kilometers passed quickly, and I sang as I keep a steady 12 km/h downhill. Arriving at the finish at 4:20 (by my watch, there was no time taking), we received finishers and then split up to go home and shower. Cold and muddy for sure!
Finish line: I rain 30 km in the rain, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!
Today I'm back in the study hall, trying to make up the hours I lost running yesterday (stop blogging and start studying Molly!). Of course, now the sun is out.
Until our next adventure!
- The Wild Bazilchuk