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The Reistadløpet has been established as northern Norways answer to the Birkebeiner race and is part of Visma Ski Classics. XC-marathon.com have spoken til the major of Bardu kommune and board member of Reistadløpet, Toralf Heimdal. He has himself participated 30 times in the race, have the track record of the original route of 32 km (today the main race is a 50 km-route) and has also won the race 8 times(!).
XC-marathon.com wonders if the impression from the honours list, that this is a race very rich on tradition is true: -Yes I would say it is, this is the xc-marathon that is the most stable in northern Norway. There is not that many skiers in northern Norway, but
in 1945 Reistad came back as head of Bardufoss air station. At that time he built skiing shacks around the area, and built outdoors pools and athletes tracks, and he was concerned about that the kids should have sports to occupy themselves with.
Toralf Heimdal, major of Bardu municipality and 8-times winner of the Reistadløpet.
this is the one with best and most prominent international participation. There has always been a lot of prestige connected to this race since it was organized the first time in -58. The number of participants have been around 1000 the latest years, Heimdal says.
Has participated and won himself many times
We have also picked up that you yourself have participated many times and even won? -Yes, I have won 8 times, so I really feel the pressure, Heimdal smiles through the phone. There is a little story travelling around about Håkon Mikalsen, that have won 6 times and that was about to catch up with me. It says that when I saw that he could equalize my statistics, then I contacted David Nilsson in Visma Ski Classics to recruit even better skiers and put an end to that possibility for Håkon, Heimdal laughs: -Håkon is a very good skier and he can do a lot out of himself in the lead of the Visma Classics. He followed the group behind the winners two years ago, the ones that fought for the fifth place behind Lucas Bauer and three others; Petter Eliassen, Anders Aukland and Simen Østensen.
Can get a lot out of the Reistadløpet – in the uphills
Heimdal himself thinks that he has gotten a lot out of the Reistadløpet and that the race is unique: -It has it´s own position among the races because there is a lot of uphills. For example, compared to the Birkebeiner, where there is a little bit more than 500 meters to climb during 13 km up to Dølfjellet,there is in Reistadløpet 500 meters to climb in only 5 km. It is of course not impossible to double pole, but we saw last year that it payed off to do ordinary diagonal technique with grip wax for most people. As organizers, you need to be very cautious about the profile of the track and watch out so you dont get a pure uphill race, because there are some herringbone hills, but they are not too many or too long, Heimdal assures. -It is 10% climb in the longest uphills. Visma Ski Classics have, by the way, introduced a climber´s jersey (BIB) in the long distance cup, and we have two of the longest hills in the Reistadløpet. We are the only ones with two.
In other words, the professional teams also uses grip wax in this race, Heimdal states. -But many still chose to double pole, but they still use herringbone technique, and Petter Eliassen was for sure in a class of his own (best double poler was Tord Asle Gjerdalen which was nr 5, 4.48 behind Eliassen), but behind him was Anders Aukland and more with grip wax in 2017. Except from the mentioned Eliassen the ones starting further behind and double poling had no chance of catching up with Aukland and his group with the head start they had achieved in the uphills.
-But, Heimdal notes, it is still very nice to do the race, and this is the easiest route over the mountain to Bardufoss. Anders Aukland characterized it as plain and simply a -really good mountain race.
Many reasons to honor Ole Reistad
Reistadløpet is supposed to honor the originator of the race, Ole Reistad. -Han var the top ranking officer for the air forces during the 2nd. world war, he was head of Bardufoss before the war and also head of Little Norway, the norwegian ´air base´ in Canada during the war, Heimdal tells XC-marathon.com. -Over there, he was like a father to our King of today, that spent a lot of time there during the war. in -45 Reistad came back as head of Bardufoss air station. At that time he built skiing shacks around the area, and built outdoors pools and athletes tracks, and he was concerned about that the kids should have sports to occupy themselves with. Reistad was by the way also the leader of the norwegian cross country team that won olympic gold in -28 Heimdal informs. -Reistad has done many impressive athletic performances and was a shining star after the war.
A lot to do besides the race
Toralf Heimdal lists a whole lot of other activities in the area that participants can try besides skiing: -Everything, ranging from randonne in Bardu, Målselv and Senja, to go fishing halibut or ocean fishing. You can also travel to inner Troms municipality where there is miles and miles of snowmobile tracks. If you are interested, you can also visit wolves in the nature experience center Polar Park which is situated in Bardu, and that was named the world´s most spectacular sleepover place in 2016, skier and major Heimdal informs.
Heimdal also notes that Visma Classics travels on to Levi in Finland where the next Visma Classics grace is, and this is of course also for ordinary hobbyist skiers. Many from the northern parts follow, and Heimdal suggests tha maybe also someone from the south also could plan to continue to Levi?
Pure Arctic Madness
Heimdal finishes by underlining the ambitions for the Reistadløpet: -Our goal is to create the xc-marathon version of the Arctic Race (bicycling, ed. note). It is supposed to be a little madness, and that´s why the slogan is Pure Arctic Madness. Pure is for clean nature and a doping free arrangement, and Madness refers to both the track profile and other tings, Heimdal says enthusiastically. He points out that the race still is manageable and last but not least safe for everyone: -Old ladies and gentlemen have passed through the mountains in this track for a long time, and there are no dangerous downhills Heimdal finishes.
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