The Arctic Triple – Lofoten extreme triathlon

Extreme triathlons were conceived as something extremely difficult, but it all came down to a support team running after the athlete, providing everything they need on demand and almost wiping their bum

An approximate quote from Andriy Magalich

Having completed 3 extreme triathlons described by Andriy – Blacklake XTRI, ICON XTRI, and Sweedman XTRI – this year I decided to try an extreme triathlon without a support team. I chose the “Most Beautiful Triathlon in the World” – The Arctic Triple.

The Arctic Triple is a series of competitions with three stages – LOFOTEN SKIMO, LOFOTEN ULTRA-TRAIL, and LOFOTEN TRIATHLON. Starting next year, the series will also include the LOFOTEN STAGE RUN with 174 kilometers of running in 4 days, but I still don’t understand why it is needed if you can run 100 miles at a time on their ultra.

The variety of races is further diversified by the choice of distances at each of them. So at the triathlon, you could run a full ironman, a half, or even an Olympic distance.

Of course, my choice was the full distance, because The Arctic Triple was the main start of my sports season, which included the Olympics, the half, and even the Camino de Santiago.

Traveling to the competition

It is a misconception that competitions start with the starting whistle or a shot. The competition starts with logistics! To be honest, I really don’t like planning a trip. All this searching for tickets, booking accommodation, renting a car… It’s just horrible. But what can you do, not everywhere you can travel like on the Camino – you keep going until you find a place to sleep. At least a cycling case adds a few restrictions.

Since I was traveling alone to my main race this year, I decided not to arrange my favorite road trip and fly to the competition like all sensible adults – by plane. In general, it takes 3 hours to get from Evenes Airport in Lofoten to Svolvær, where all the races of the series take place, but I knew I wanted to do some more traveling around the area, in addition to the competition itself, so I decided to rent a car. That’s where the first adventures began.

3.2.1. Let’s fly!

The flight went well, so at Evenes airport I went to the reception of the car rental company, gave my ID, said I had a reservation, and then the company employee said: “Dear, but you said in your booking that you would pick up the car at 10am, now it’s 3:30pm, so when you didn’t pick it up at 10, we noted that you didn’t arrive and canceled your booking.”

This news surprised me because, in my booking, I noted my flight number so that the rental company would know when I was arriving, even in case of schedule changes. And this argument, given to the rental company employee, saved me. He consulted with the management and found me another car. Ironically, it was a Volkswagen Caddy instead of a Toyota Corolla, which, given that I had a bicycle case, was only a plus.

My workhorse for traveling

The journey to the airport took about 2 hours, during which I managed to get my neck pretty much wrapped around it because the nature on the Lofoten is really exceptionally picturesque.


Arriving in the city of The Arctic Triple and my accommodation, I went to check into my apartment and quickly went to pick up my starter pack. It was already 19:00 outside and I decided that I needed to quickly shoot some beautiful landscapes before the sunset and then go out to eat.

After taking some good pictures, I found a good restaurant in the center. But who am I kidding, it’s either the center or the outskirts, the whole city, the size of Karachi (2.37 square kilometers) and with a population of less than 5,000 people. But it didn’t matter, what was more interesting was that I left the restaurant and it was still light outside.

View from the apartment at ten in the evening

It was 21:45 or something, my iPhone was telling me that the sun had set here an hour ago, but it was still light outside. That was the first time I really felt that I was far above the Arctic Circle. Later I found out that in this city there are 17 light hours in August. At the same time, there are 24 in June and 0 in December. I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, this falls into the category of “too much”: “What is too much is not healthy”.

The day before the start

At the planning stage, the day before the start, I was thinking of going to Henningsvær, the most Instagrammed town on the Lofoten. However, it turned out that the photographer of The Arctic Triple is Mr. Kai-Otto Melau, whom I have known since Blacklake XTRI and whose work I still consider to be the coolest in extreme triathlon. So we agreed to meet him, have a coffee, and take some photos from a new part of the course that Kai hadn’t seen before.

Pirate ship, right on the route of the bike stage

So that’s exactly what we did. We met up, and went for coffee, at the same restaurant that I had chosen for my dinner yesterday. Kai said that every year when he photographs this event, he has lunch and often works in this very restaurant.

What was interesting, besides a simple friendly conversation, was that Kai said that Ukraine is in the Norwegian news every day and that Norwegians are very supportive of us in our struggle. It was very nice to hear.

After coffee, we went to the organizers to borrow a car to go and see the track. So that’s how I got to know the organizers of this series of extreme starts. And what can I say, Frank (CEO) and Christian (Manager) turned out to be very nice people who were very much involved in the process of preparing and running the races. They are also locals, so they really invite the athletes almost to their homes because they live on these islands and they want to show how great they are.

And I can’t mention what Frank said when he met me: “Hello! Glory to Ukraine”. At first, I replied: “Glory to the heroes,” and then I realized that he had said it in my own language. And let’s not forget that there were no Russians on The Arctic Triple or NXTRI. Respect to the Norwegians.


Kai and I took Frank’s car, loaded my bike into it, and went to see the new part of the route. I kept turning my head, occasionally taking pictures out the window, telling Kai that I was going to make a film, like the one I did after Santiago.

At some point, Kai stopped and said that this place would be good for a photo. We took the bike out of the car, I put on my shoes and helmet and started riding back and forth with Kai. It was a simple photo shoot with a good result. Plus, Kai filmed me with a drone a little bit more, so I should have some video for the film.

Then we drove on, found another place, and repeated the process. This time it was more interesting because Kai was lying in the middle of the road, and I had to drive over him and steer at the last moment. I enjoyed it.

Let’s get started!

The start is at 5am, so you won’t get much sleep. The transit bus closes at 4:30, which means you have to get up at 3:00.

Thanks to the geographical location of Lofoten, it is already dawn outside.

I ate breakfast, packed all my things, and was on the transit at 4:25. Why sit there longer than necessary. But I wasn’t the last one in transit, the last athlete came at about 4:40, but they let him in – at such races, everyone is their own, and everyone understands everything.

Transit in the centre of Svolvær

We go to the pier to test the water and actually start. I’m the last one to get in the water, joking with David, who is doing his 39th extreme ironman here, that the less time I spend in the water, the better.


We push off from the pier like a swimming pool edge and go. I tried to sit at someone’s feet, but everyone was working too hard. I looked up and realized that everyone had been swept away to the right of the buoy towards the open sea. “Well, hello, the current”, I thought and continued to swim, correcting for the buoy.

Near the first buoy, I found the right feet and continued to work on the tail of two athletes;

We swam to the rightmost buoy, turned around, swam to another buoy, and now in the opposite direction, passing the Instagram houses on stilts.

Actually, part of the sailing route passes by these houses

One more buoy, a turn, another buoy and we sail towards the start.

There’s a fishing boat off the coast, and in the water… damn! There’s fish bait in the water. Just a huge amount of all kinds of shrimp shells and some other shit, obviously needed so that the fish could come and the fishermen could catch them. This was the first time I was greeted by panic….Because when I see fish in the water, I’m scared. No, not like that. I’m scared! I panic, I scream into the water and everything. And that’s not to mention the fact that swimming in this bait was not very pleasant.

Gathering my will into a fist, I put on the next gear and overtook the Ateliers at whose feet I was swimming.

We went for the second lap, but this time I swam alone near the Instagram houses because everyone is somehow stretched out across the harbour and everyone swims alone. At some point, I lost sight of all the athletes and when I reached the buoy, I was sure that I missed one buoy and this is the buoy I need to swim in the opposite direction.

So I swam around the buoy and went towards the finish line. On the right is the shore, but I see that the bottom is very different from the one on the previous lap. Firstly, it’s very shallow, and secondly, there is a lot of straw, which was definitely not there.

I looked up and saw a kayak with a volunteer coming towards me. He said that I was supposed to turn 90 degrees, but I turned 180 and went the wrong way and now I’m swimming near the island. So he showed me how to swim around this island to get to the buoy faster, which I did.

Thus, I was once again behind the athletes I had overtaken before. And yes, for the second time, I was the only one who got into the feeder. But I knew it was going to happen, so I got myself together, put in another gear, and ended up finishing in the same position as I was when I got into the legs of the two athletes.


I calmly go through the transit, take 2 bottles of Beta-Fuel from Sis (10% off with the promo code HTF10), and off we go.

I didn’t see the first part of the route, but it didn’t matter. I pedal briskly, gradually catching up with faster swimmers. I enter the hills somewhere above the FTP and go down below the FTP. There are no big climbers on the track, but you are constantly up and down.

The first biggest hill is a bridge where road works are underway. But for the athletes, there are 2 traffic controllers that stop the traffic while we are passing. The peculiarity of this bridge is that there are very powerful winds on it. So powerful that when the wind speed is more than 20 km per hour (and sometimes 40), the athletes need to cross the bridge on foot, which is about 20 minutes one way.

Luckily, the wind that day was 5 km per hour, so I crossed the bridge without getting off the bike.

The route is extremely beautiful, but unfortunately, there are no photos because I was a bit busy maintaining the power output. But the film about the Lofoten will include a part of this route, so wait for it.

Part of the cycle route

The first part of the bike was good, but it ended too quickly, so I didn’t notice how I made a lap around the island, crossed the bridge again, and got to the city. And I managed to overtake a few athletes in this section.

The second part of the bike

Kai and I had already seen the second part of the bike, so I knew what to expect. But somewhere I must have miscalculated my nutrition, so from about the 100th kilometer onwards, my mood started to deteriorate. I realized this quite late when I noticed that the lines from the song Ticket to Paradise by Skinhate were playing on repeat in my head, namely:

There’s no help to be had…
There’s no help to be had…
There’s no help to be had…
There’s no help to be had…

I’m sick of it,

I’m sick of it,

I’m sick of it,

I’m sick of it

And so on in a circle. “Well, here we are,” I thought and started eating and drinking, but it didn’t help. At the same time, I really wanted to go to the toilet, so I decided to take a sanitary break overlooking the sea and, so to speak, reboot.

I paused, got on my bike, turned on AC/DC (in my head, no headphones allowed), and started pedaling. It lasted me for another 40 kilometers, and then I just had to endure to get there. My lower back was hurting badly and my whole back.


The running route of The Arctic Triple was changed this year because the previous one was quite dangerous and in many places, it ran along motorways. So this year we had 2 relatively flat laps and 2 laps with a mountain. Each lap passed through a transit station, so you could change your shoes or take food. It was convenient.

I start running the first lap. Well, not actually “running”, my pace was about 7:00. The very next day I realized that I was so slow because the run started with a hill.

After about a kilometer, my pace reaches sub-6:00, which is quite satisfactory, so I run at cruising speed.

As I was finishing the first lap, I saw an athlete in Alfaflyes running towards me, whom I don’t remember from the cycling stage. “It must be a competitor,” I think, realizing that I am 2 kilometers away. I decided to try to get him and kept running.

The second lap is a little harder, but it’s okay, we’re working. I pass one athlete (not the one in Alfafly) and at the end of the second lap, I see that my competitor is much closer.

The Mountain

On the third lap, I decided to change into my trail shoes. I immediately felt my pace drop on the asphalt, but when I ran out onto the dirt, everything went fine. I got to the trail junction and took some water and carrots at the food station. And how delicious those carrots were.

I reached the beginning of a difficult trail and realized that it was no longer possible to run here, so I started to climb quickly by walking.

The actual part of the climb

Somewhere in the middle of this climb, I noticed my competitor in Alfaflyes ahead of me. Yes, he hadn’t changed his shoes. Full of enthusiasm, I accelerated and in 15 minutes I was ahead of him. I reached the top and started the descent.

The descent begins with a very technical section, which is easier to show than to describe.

You actually take the rope and go down

After this section, there is a less technical, but still quite technical section, which I passed quite quickly, but I was surprised to notice that my competitor in Alpha Flyers was approaching me. When I was descending in trail shoes, which I thought was on the limit, the athlete in carbon super shoes was going faster than me.

I realized that I was losing everything, and when I got to the dirt section, where I didn’t need any technicality, I turned on the maximum speed and went down so fast that my ears were ringing. Well, that’s how it seemed to me, judging by Garmin, my maximum pace was 4:30.

The last lap

On the last lap, I didn’t have much strength, but I kept running, pushed by the fact that my rival was chasing me behind. On the trail, I caught up David, who was running his third lap with another athlete.

I got to the food station and took two more carrots, but they were not as awesome as the one I had on the third lap. I don’t know why. As I ran out of the food station, I saw my rival in the Alfaflyes arriving.

I was climbing up, and the excitement was driving me, but I didn’t have much strength, so sometimes I thought: “Well, it will overtake me, it will overtake me,” but I pushed them away and kept pushing forward.

On the way down, I saw another athlete who was going through the rope section for the first time and I was very surprised by how fast I was going through this section. “I’m doing it for the second time,” I shouted at him and ran away, noticing that a familiar white tri-suite with brightly colored running shoes appeared on the mountain.

I ran downstairs without looking back and just squeezed everything I had left out of my body. But before I turned onto the embankment, I cast a quick glance back and saw that there was no one in sight.

One last push and I ran to the finishing arch. Just for fun, at the same time, the Kids race was taking place and I finished with the kids. And that’s why no one cared if someone finished a long distance because the kids were running right there.

I shook hands with Frank, who was standing with a handful of children’s medals, and he greeted me and said: “Go get a burger, you need to eat.” Kai was also there, and he also greeted me. I took a burger with a big piece of fish instead of a cutlet and went to the transit. At that moment, an athlete in Alfafly arrived.

He came up to me in transit, we shook hands and exchanged impressions of the race. He told me that he had been trying to get me for a lap and a half, and I admitted that I had been running the whole lap and a half to get away from him.

After that, I took my things and went home.


I spent the next day on a short trip around the islands, not having time for anything I had planned. But that’s a topic for a future video that will be released on my YouTube channel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *