February is a popular time for unique endurance ski and running events and the Åsnes Expedition Amundsen in Norway is apparently often called the hardest ski race. According to a press release, the route of Expedition Amundsen is the same route as the famous explorer Roald Amundsen did in 1896 in preparation for conquering the South Pole in 1911. Amundsen never managed to do the distance at Hardangervidda and almost ended his life in the attempt. Later he was quoted as saying that the attempt to cross Hardangervidda was just as hard and dangerous as the South Pole Expedition. Since then the route has been used by folks preparing for extreme expeditions – North and South Pole, the crossing of Greenland and other polar expeditions under extreme conditions. And of course the Expedition Amundsen pictured below in great images by Kai-Otto Melau. 100km with some very tough climbing and while pulling a 40kg sled. Good times.
Meanwhile in Alaska two other unique endurance events also offer athletes tough challenges in beautiful winter conditions. The Iditarod Trail Invitational starts on February 25th at Knik Lake with 130 mile, 350 mile and 1000 mile options. The Iditasport Alaska event started on February 19th and also offers a variety of challenges - including a 2000 mile option that goes all the way to Fairbanks just like the dog sled race.
But back now to Expedition Amundsen.
Alone with beautiful nature but held back by a sled that can never weigh less than 40kg. The sled apparently gets weighed at the start and finish.
Early on the 200 athletes in the field are tightly bunched and unlike in 2017 the weather was spectacular this time. Ingeborg Kristine Lind leads the pack here.
The event can be done as an individual or in a team of two. The team pictured here is Tarald Kleppe Ovrebo and Erik Tjolsen of Team Brynje of Norway.
Amy Mir apparently does Expedition Amundsen as a warm up for a 30 day expedition along the Norwegian border - according to Kai-Otto Melau
Pictured here is adventurer, climber and polar explorer Alexsander Gamme who apparently did the race for fun.
Truly alone with nature and your own thoughts in a stunning environment.
This is very hard work, but the views are rewarding.
With the sun going down the mandatory rest period is coming to mind.
The advantage of a team is that there is always someone who has your back.
Kristian Horne ended up in 3rd place, but here he is during his mandatory 8 hour stop. Horne is an experienced Norseman triathlete, but is usually not the only Norseman in this event. Plus other triathletes have taken on this challenge.
The tent of Haavard Hansen who won the race in course record time.
As it got dark the temperatures dropped and the tents were a welcome sight.
After the mandatory rest Haavard Hansen pushed on to the finish. His 21:40 winning time includes the 8 hour stop.
The Viersla checkpoint is around 70km and that means close to home.
All images © Kai-Otto Melau