The Twilight Zone

Aside from the elite teams, or maybe they hide it better, the twilight zone is that period of the race where most expedition racers are at their lowest, seeing only darkness ahead.  Every muscle hurts, sleep deprivation has it’s claws firmly attached and they begin asking themselves why they are racing in the first place.  To spectators and event staff they can look like they are walking dead.  

It is a strange phenomena and often times occurs between the second and third day of racing.  This is where the competitors in the Nordic Islands Adventure Race are right now – fighting their way through the Twilight Zone.  

Having raced for over 48 hours, the majority of the field has finished the epic 84km SwimRun leg and transitioned to a 25km hike from the Viking village of Saltvik to the transition area at Sveden.

While some teams may quit (and none have yet!), the majority who make it through this phase will describe “getting in the zone” or “getting into a rhythm”.  Teams feel the passage of time change.  Time morphs to being marked by sunrises and sunsets, not minutes and hours.  Being on the other side of the Twilight Zone is one aspect that makes expedition racing so addictive.  

As the sun rose on day 3 of the NIAR, it was Haglöfs Silva and Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team (SAFAT) who arrived together at Saltvik, with Haglöfs scoring a small psychological victory running in to the control first.  Considering the re-start yesterday, to win the race they will need to beat SAFAT at the finish line by 1 hour and 48 minutes to account for the lead of SAFAT when the kayak leg was cancelled.  Haglöfs Silva can’t afford to race with SAFAT for much longer – they will need to make their move soon.  Will their move lead to victory?  They still have over 170km of racing and a lot can happen in that time.

Estonia ACE Adventure are well within striking distance of the two Swedish teams at the front of the field, just 1 hour and 1 minute behind.  Follow the teams live at

For teams further back in the field, the open fire inside the traditional viking Longhouse was a warm welcome at Transition Area 5 at the end of the SwimRun leg – many chose to sleep a couple of hours on the fur lined benches adorning the building.  Canadian team was not one of these however, team Captain Pete Cameron ushered his team past the fire and was overhead saying “The course won’t finish itself!”

Swedish team Whats Your Dream also chose to forgo the fire to move quickly through the transition.  Team Captain Marika Wagner is mentoring the three male members of her team on their first adventure race.  She said “Things didn’t go so well yesterday and we have time to make up”.  Team member James Roberts said “Until now I thought a 3 hour kettle bell session in the gym was endurance, this is something else entirely”.

Transition Area 5 in Saltvik is set in the grounds of the annual event called The Viking Market which attracts over 10,000 visitors and is one of the largest of its kind in Scandinavia. The local Vikings even had a sword fighting practice session in the grounds to demonstrate their skills to some tired adventure racing teams through the afternoon.  

At the very back of the field a number of teams were given a Short Course on day 2 to ensure they all safely reached Åland for the restart.  French team Adeorun Adventure is the last team on the Full Course and the full leaderboard can be viewed at

Still to come in the Nordic Islands Adventure race is Leg 8 – 40km Sea Kayak, Leg 9 – 78km Pack Raft, Leg 10 – 91km Mountain Bike and a final Leg 11 – 7km run. 

You can also follow the NIAR social media feeds, and @nordicislandsar on Instagram.  

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Released 14 August 2018 written by Craig Bycroft, Adventure Racing World Series

Photo Petter Persson, Agatha Boveda, Gunnar Eld (Nordic Islands Adventure Race)

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