A race of extremes, Hamperokken 60km leaves the bustling city center of Tromsø, traversing over the water on a highway bridge to climb steeply up into the rocky ridge lines of nearby fjords—steep, rocky hillsides at the edge of the ocean. For those interested in running this race, one of the Skyrunning World Series races—formerly in the Extreme Race category—this is a brief overview of the course:
The lower trails are well traversed single track among green ferns, heather and blueberries. The first climb is approximately 1200m or 4000’ of ascent past the Floya foothill trails into rockier ridgeline trails. The course dips into a basin crossing streams of water and then ascending another 300m or so to the summit of Tromsdalstind. From here the descent is steep and care must be taken as many rocks are loose and some hidden under mud. As the course re-enters the low forest, it is a freshly cut path with roots and stobs, stream crossings and fields of mud before finally reaching a dirt road that leads across the valley to the next summit: Hamperokken. There is one main aid station here which runners will access at approximately mile 15 and on the return at mile 23.
Hamperokken trail similarly climbs on a well beaten path straight up the hillside before reaching the spine of the ridge that leads to the peak. Although the distance is less than about 2k or 1.8miles along the ridge, the moving is slow with the necessity to ensure good placement of feet and hands. Exposure is the main complicating factor as a slip here could be dire. The ridge falls away steeply on the northern side down to steep glacier fields with long faces ending in piles of loose boulder and rock. The southern face is a cirque of boulders holding a large glacier fed lake.
The last 50m or 150’ to the peak requires scrambling with use of the hands and careful footholds necessary. The peak is about the size of a large dinner table with comfortable room for no more than 4-6 persons. Descending off the peak requires more patience than most racers would like as the main route is really wide enough for only one to two persons at a time. Ropes are in place for safety on race day, as the temperatures are likely 15-20deg F cooler at the peak height of about 1420m or 4500’ elevation. In the clouds and wet coastal weather the rock is cold and soaked, and racers struggle to stay warm passing each other in this area.
Finally off the peak, the route descends the loose boulder fields which like most alpine descents is loose and slippery with very few stable foot placements. Following the edge of the lake, runners boulder hop for a couple miles before heading back towards Tromsdalstind for the last 5500’ climb and final 14-15miles.
Ascending this climb requires again some use of the hands in some areas. Some pull hard on poles. Many runners slow here with fatigue, but the views behind are breathtaking. Glistening streams and waterfalls below shine like silver among the rich greens and yellows of the fjells. Beyond, Hamperokken stands out among the black jagged fjords dotted with white glaciers and shrouded in misty clouds. Mostly though the focus must stay on only the ground 5-6 feet ahead and the mind is spent calculating the final distances.
After the second ascend of Tromsdalstind, the course descends a slightly different route off the main ridge, allowing views of the nearby ocean and finally again: the city. The last stretches of running are painfully undulating with one last steady climb back to the top of Fjellheisen cable car before descending back to the city streets. The last running is approximately 4-5km or 2-3miles through the city back to the start at the Clarion The Edge Hotel.
4250m (15750 feet) gain
Highest point: Hamperokken summit 1450m
For an overview of the 2018 course conditions see: Tromsø Skyrace, Norway: A race of Extremes