Day 5: Holmenkollen 30k (outer loop perspective)

by John and Tim

It all started like every other morning, getting startled awake by the alarm, waiting just five more minutes then literally rolling out of bed. Me and my equally disoriented roomies got up and got dressed. Then as I was staring at the bed where my gleaming Norwegian race suit lay I remembered. I had forgotten to go to the bathroom. After that was finished I again looked back to my bed where my gleaming race suit lay and remembered; we were forerunning the World Cup today. I was skeptical of the day, this is because the previous day I was planned to forerun the Nordic Combined race but the schedule was too tight to send forerunners. But today was a new day and I would hold out hope that I would be graced with the privilege to forerun the women’s 30k at Holmenkollen.

After a surprisingly drab breakfast we packed up and headed out. It was seemingly a short drive for us as I was asleep for most of it but when we arrived it was a completely different world from the one we were in yesterday. Instead of a great valley with a bright sun, we were greeted with an illustrious mist, and a great barrier of fog that blocked all view. Now it was a waiting game where we waited ‘till it was time to show our stuff on an international stage. When it was finally our time our benevolent coaches bestowed upon us our skis. As we descended toward the start in our matching unitards and hats I couldn’t help but feel like I was part of something bigger and importanter.

Yesterday was extraordinary. Forerunning the 50k was an unforgettable experience. Today was going to be better though, for no other reason than because we would all be forerunning today’s at the same time. Some people didn’t have an opportunity yesterday so Merethe decided to have everyone step into the tracks and ski as forerunners.

Forerunners in formation climbing their way out of the stadium (sea of tiny ants in the center just above the railing)

When we started moving I was so excited, for both the obvious reason and because this was Ford Sayre JNT’s big moment on the world cup stage at the biggest ski festival in Norway. We made our way up the first climb, a military-like procession, and glided into the first swooping downhill. All 40 forerunners tucked and carried out speed, within reason, up the next hill. Up and over we went, back into the haze that was only just beginning to lift, flying towards our split.

“My” half of the group was to make the ascent up to Frognerseteren while the other half broke to the left to attack the more technical part of the course. They vanished into the mist. After the world cup women went by my group started up again, to ensure that we would not get in their way on the downhill, and moved in mass up to the top of the course. We heard the cheers of the many fans before we saw them through the fog, and boy were they amped. Thousands of spectators camped out over night on the sides of the trail to watch this event, started rooting for us like we were the actual racers. This quickened the pace a little but our formation never broke.

In no time we marched over the top and took the downhill by force. Flying on skis prepped by our own coaches. We stopped short of the stadium and dismounted to ensure that we would not get in the way of the race. We weren’t to go out again until the end of the race so we got to watch Marit Bjøergen destroy the women’s field by 2:05. What a show that was. After the last racer had started back up the hill for their final lap, all 40 forerunners set out to ski the entire course one last time.

In formation we went. Up the big climb to Frognerseteren and back. Over the bridge in the stadium and onto the technical 3.3k loop. The fog had completely lifted at this point so we were visible to all the many spectators as we made our way up and around the steep hills and sharp turns of the Holmenkollen race loop.

With the help of excellent Norwegian pace setters we stayed as a near perfect group for our 40 minute clearing of the course. Even up the infamous Hellner hill we were together. We pulled into the stadium one last time each and every one of us excited at what we had just done and even happier that we had done it together.

JNT forerunners: Liz, Kennedy, Greta, Andy, Erik, Grant, Jacob, Malcolm, Tim, Keelan, Perrin, Sara, Justin, John, Jørgen

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