Łódź man becomes first Pole EVER to finish grueling 100km Norway ski race solo
Michał Kiełbasiński from Łódź, central Poland, has become the first Pole ever to complete the Asnes Expedition Amundsen ski race which covers 100km of treacherous arctic terrain across central Norway by himself.
The 51-year-old came 35th in the individual section of the run, having completed the 100km race on back country skis and pulling a sled in 33 hours.
The Asnes Expedition Amundsen race crosses the Hardangervidda mountain plateau in the central part of Norway, following a route traversed by the legendary Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen in 1896. The then 23 year old Amundsen, travelling with his brother Leon, almost lost his life on the plateau after becoming disorientated in a whiteout and ending up encased in ice. Typical polar conditions prevail in the area and the fauna and flora of the plateau are characteristic of the Arctic region. The area is also used as a training ground for explorers before they set off on their expeditions.
Competitors set out from Haukeliseter and the race finishes in Maurset, a total distance of 100 km. They cover the ground on skis while pulling a 40kg sled behind them. Race entrants are given a maximum time of 60 hours to cover the course. During this period competitors must set up a tent and rest for eight hours, and they are also required to take a 4 hour break at some point during the race. In order to undertake such unique and difficult tasks the organisers only accept competitors who can, through documentation, prove their previous track-record in extreme sports.
Kiełbasiński had no problem in proving himself to the organisers - at the turn of 2016 and 2017 he covered 1,600 km across the Yukon and Alaska alone. On skis and pulling a supply sled he traversed the terrain in temperatures plummeting to -40 degrees Celsius, and slept in a sleeping bag under the open sky or in trapper's huts. The expedition took him 33 days to complete.
On hundred and sixty-six competitors started out in the individual category of the Asnes Expedition Amundsen race. Kiełbasiński set off on Feb 27 and reached the finishing point on the following night at 21.30 with a time of 33 hours (minus 8 hours for the compulsory rest period), placing him 35th in the individual category and 65th overall. The fastest time was achieved by Halvor Lovmark Wang (Norway) who completed the course in under 24 hours.
Speaking about his experience after returning to Poland, Kiełbasiński said that it was the first time he had ever worn back country skis, and that he had not had the opportunity to try them out earlier. "The skis had been prepared superbly, but I suspect they were not well-balanced. During the first 15 km they were trying to kill me. Later we called a truce. We agreed that I would not break them, and they would not kill me, and then we somehow got along.”
He added: “Despite the huge time losses that I suffered primarily on the downhill runs, I am the first Pole to complete this solo competition and was honored with the placement of a bust on the so-called Wall of Amundsen, an award for those who have completed a course of fewer than 35 hours."
In 2015, three Poles - Krysztof Kolakowski, Tomasz Martyniak and Krzysztof Piątek - became the first Poles to complete the course as a team.