Dining in an old Norwegian barn with a spectacular view on Geiranger Fjord. That was the promise of the Basenibba Community Run. As a part of the Stranda Fjord Trail Race (SFTR), this community run was more or less a warming up for the real stuff coming up in two days. Nevertheless it was a small adventure on itself. It was not the 8.5k distance or the 525 positive altitude meters. Nor was it the steepness of the slopes or the technical level of the terrain. The beauty of this run lay in the astonishing views over one of the most famous fjords in the world, the Unesco World Heritage of the Geiranger Fjord.
We gathered on a rainy Thursday at the parking lot of the Stranda Hotel. The group was a very selected one consisting of Martin Kristoffersen, the race director of SFTR, two newly wed Japanese runners Shota & Mai Myazaki and myself. Actually the Japanese were on their honeymoon in Norway for a running holiday never to forget. We drove off in Martin’s car heading south in the direction of Hellesylt and after ten minutes he parked the car just before the Streke Tunnel. We were going to follow Ljøbrekka, the old mail route that went from Bergen to Trondheim. This part of the route across the Ljøfjellet was one of the most demanding parts and established in 1786. We left the car behind at the trailhead and after five minutes running on a gravel road we went uphill.
After a steady climb we reach Lake Brekkevatnet with a beautiful view on Herdalen valley. This valley is part of the municipality of Stranda in Møre og Romsdal county. This part of Norway is ideal for mountainrunning in summer and skiing in winter and that’s why some of the best skyrunning and skimo athletes come to this area to live here. Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg are probably the most famous of them. A steep climb brings us up the ridge that leads to Båsenibba, one of the peaks on the ridge with an altitude of 910 meters. We follow the red marks that are painted on the rocks and stones across the old mail route and we know that the spectacular views are coming up any moment now.
When we reach the top of Båsenibba the beautiful view on the fjords opens up. We see Sunnylvs Fjord and the entrance of the famous Geiranger Fjord. This fjord is one of Norway’s most popular natural attractions with its surrounding mountains that are up to 1700 meters high. The fjord is also known for its spectacular waterfalls and deserted farms high up on the steep cliffsides. After taking some pictures for the folks back home we leave Båsenibba and start the descend down to Ljøen. Martin leads us down the ridge. We leave the alpine landscape with its reindeer moss and rhododendrons and we enter the lower zone of the mountain range with some nice pine trees. Suddenly we see the road that comes out of the other side of the tunnel and we realize that the recently built Streke Tunnel is a shortcut from the old mail route. We stop at the touristic viewpoint and watch a huge cruise ship with thousands of tourists go by.
We finish our run at the farm in Øvre Ljøen and are welcomed by the farmer, his wife and their two sons. They combine traditional sheep herding with new entrepreneurship. The sons organise events for groups and firms, invest in sustainable tourism and they even built themselves a small theatre for concerts and other cultural events. To quench our thirst they offer us a local Geiranger beer that tastes really good and they give us a small tour through the farm.
The chef of the Stranda Hotel is also there and he prepares a BBQ meal. Finally we get what was promised; a gorgeous diner with a view on Geiranger Fjord. We eat the delicious food, all local vegetables, salmon and lamb. Soon the famer’s wife starts telling creepy stories about the local farmers that used to live on the steep Geiranger cliffs. A pregnant farmer’s wife was having her first contractions, she climbed down the mountain herself, rowed across the fjord, walked to the hospital and gave birth to a healthy son. And we thought we were though mountain runners…
This community run was a side program of the Stranda Fjord Trail race, which is in august. If you like a challenging skyrace with quite some technical parts and spectacular views over de fjords, check it out: www.strandafjordtrailrace.com