Allan Hovda defended his Isklar Norseman title and held off Lars Petter Stormo with a time of 9:43:46, but they both had to reel in bike leader and 2012 champion Henrik Oftedal. Kristin Lie battled Line Foss all day to take the 2015 Norseman women's title.
The day before the race the organizers decided to shorten the swim to 1.9k due to cold water temperatures, and that still required ferrying 250 athletes out to the swim start, just not as far. The sight of neoprene clad athletes diving into the cold fjord however was beautiful and serene as always. Athletes this year had to reach the shore in less than 75 minutes or be pulled out by the organizers to avoid too much exposure to the 50 degree water temperatures, but apparently all swimmers made the cut. The cold however was not limited to the water. Athletes were seen bundled up all day and there clearly was snow on some sections of the course.
American Bruce Deakyne from Redmond, Washington was first out of the cold water in 26:43. About 1.5 minutes behind him, Aussie Adriel Young led Norwegians Lars Christian Vold and 2009 champion Tom Remman onto the shore and into transition. Many eyes were on Henrik Oftedal and Allan Hovda (bib numbers #2 and #1, respectively) and those two tough Norwegians exited the Hardanger Fjord in just over 31.5 minutes.
Oftedal put the hammer down on the bike, passing everyone ahead of him and letting no one else come near him. When he reached the second transition with a race best bike split, he had an advantage of 2:43 over Vold, 6:22 over Hovda and around 7 minutes over Stormo and Stewart. The experienced Scot Stewart was the only non-Norwegian to factor into the race.
Once on the run Hovda was clearly the fastest, and he caught both Vold and Oftedal, though neither of them relented easily. Stormo also ran well and before long he ran side-by-side with Vold and Oftedal, with all three athletes looking to find a weakness in Hovda's armor. But Hovda paced himself well and never appeared to be in trouble. Rasmus Henning, who ran along with Hovda, even tweeted that the defending champion felt great. Hovda did not slow down and crossed the line in 9:43:47, earning another prestigious win.
"It was a great day for racing, despite 10.5 degrees C in the water and down to 0 degrees C on some part of the bike course. My competitors really stepped up their game from last year. I both swam and rode at my best but with the run course record I took last year would only give me a third place today. I'm therefore extremely happy that I managed to run the first flat 25.5 k on 1:36:40 and finish the uphill substantially faster decreasing the run record with 14 minutes and a total finishing time 40 minutes faster than the course record [with a full swim]," said Hovda to slowtwitch. "I'm so proud of the team effort today, especially my wife, the sports director, who managed to give me the best possible support after taking all the night shifts with our 2 months old son the week before Norseman. Having Rasmus Henning as run support was quite awesome as well!"
Stormo dropped both Vold and Oftedal and charged up the final climb to grab second place in 9:49:43. Vold also pulled away from Oftedal to take the final podium spot in 9:54:27. Oftedal slowed down considerably on the final push, and that allowed Stewart to charge past him and earn fourth place. But Oftedal hung on for the fifth spot.
Norwegian Kari Flottorp Lingsom was first out of the water in the women's race in 28:35, giving her a big margin over all other competitors. American Sonja Wieck was next in 32:23 and Norwegian Julie Flakne Andresen also manged to stay under 33 minutes, but all other female competitors required at least 35 minutes for the 1,900 meter swim.
Flottorp Lingsom held the lead for a while, but behind her Kristin Lie and Line Foss were flying along and caught her on the bike. Lie was first into T2 with Foss less than a minute behind her, but Foss had the fastest female bike split as she was about 7 minutes further back out of the water. The two of them had distanced Flottorp Lingsom by another 7 minutes. Norwegians Anita Valen and Line Mari Langseth were next into the bike-run transition, but they were 10:41 and 18:55 behind Lie.
Lie then had a strong run to take the 2015 Isklar Norseman title in 11:50:48. Foss held on to second place in 11:53:32 and Langseth charged past Flottorp Lingsom to take the final podium spot.
"I did my first nxtri yesterday and it was awesome from the start to the end! The organizers and the crowd cheered me [along] all the way. I was smiling all day long," said Lie to slowtwitch. "The race is actually not my cup of tea, but everywhere I travel and compete people keep asking me if I have done the race. Now I can tell them about it!"
We also learned why this Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is not, or at the very least has not been the cup of tea of Lie who has done 20 'normal' Ironman races prior.
"I do not like cold water. I do not like to freeze. I do not like downhills on the bike. I challenged myself and I guess I was the athlete with most clothes on during the bike leg," added Lie.
2015 Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon
Eidfjord, Norway / August 1, 2015
1.9k swim / 180k bike / 42.19k run
1. Allan Hovda (NOR) 9:43:46
2. Lars Petter Stormo (NOR) 9:49:43
3. Lars Christian Vold (NOR) 9:54:27
4. Graeme Stewart (GBR) 10:04:36
5. Henrik Oftedal (NOR) 10:22:09
1. Kristin Lie (NOR) 11:50:48
2. Line Foss (NOR) 11:53:32
3. Line Mari Langseth (NOR) 12:13:42
4. Kari Flottorp Lingsom (NOR) 12:21:46
5. Silje Rafaelsen (NOR) 12:44:04