By Philip O’Connor
GAUSTATOPPEN, Norway (Reuters) – With just two hundred metres to go in a 220 kilometres extreme triathlon, Hans Christian Tungesvik burst past favourite Allan Hovda to snatch victory on Saturday in the first Xtri World Championship that ended at the top of a Norwegian mountain.
The sprint finish was a thrilling climax to the race, which was run as part of the Norseman Extreme Triathlon, with Norway’s Tungesvik crossing the line in a time of nine hours 59 minutes and 40 seconds.
Lucy Gossage of Great Britain cruised to victory in the women’s race.
Revered among extreme endurance athletes for its cold-water swim, punishing cycling climbs and gruelling mountain-top finish, the Norseman attracts thousands of entries every year, but only 291 made it to the start.
Having jumped from a ferry in the morning into the dark waters of Eidfjord just before five o’clock local time, Tungesvik and Hovda battled it out through a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike ride and a marathon that ended with a 5km trek to the summit of Gaustatoppen, almost 1900 metres above sea level.
“I saw Allan in front of me and something just happened,” an elated Tungesvik said. “Running on pure will and adrenaline, I was able to accelerate and catch him just before the finish line.
“It was a tight and epic battle between Allan and I, which makes it even the more enjoyable – we pushed each other’s limits all the way to the end.”
Hovda arrived just over a minute later and the two athletes shared an exhausted embrace.
There was no such drama in the women’s race as Gossage powered home almost 30 minutes ahead of fellow Brit Flora Colledge, who came in second.
“At the finish line it felt like I was on top of the world, it was amazing,” Gossage said as she celebrated with her family.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)