Road to London, My Story – Rolf Bakken

I first stumbled in to the world of triathlon in 2008. I wasn’t as fit as I thought anymore and needed a new challenge. Passing 40 has its drawbacks and not being in the same shape as when 25 is one of them. Entering triathlon is like eating an elephant; it can only be done one bite at a time.

My first benchmark was avoiding to drown, keeping my rusty old bike together, and finishing off with a run that was not too wobbly through a sprint. The rest of the elephant was conquered in small chunks over the years with the final one being when I found myself crossing the finish line at Mount Gaustadtoppen having completed the legendary Norseman Extreme triathlon in Norway in 2012.

So now what?

I didn’t really know, but when the opportunity came along to compete in London in the World Championship in 2013 I couldn’t really resist the temptation. I had proven to myself that I could persevere and keep going through the long distances, but I wanted to see if I could find some speed as well. After all, fast-twitch muscle-fibres aren’t exactly what most Middle-Aged-Men-in-Lycra, aka MAMILs, are famous for. Besides what a boyhood dream coming to life wouldn’t it be to be able to compete in an international championship flying your country’s colours?


Training for London was well underway, when other events unfolded making triathlon less important. Having worked in the field of international humanitarian assistance for some years I know it may involve travelling to places where your normal training routines take a backseat in favour of more urgent matters. Just a few weeks before London I took up a position to work on the humanitarian situation arising from the Syria Crisis. Whatever preparations I had planned for London were put aside.  In the big scheme of things, however, that was not a huge sacrifice.

Witnessing human suffering in areas of the world less fortunate than ours makes you aware of lucky you are that you can even be at a starting-line. It’s a humbling, but welcome, reminder. Everyday people around the world are forced to flee their homes and lives, and struggle to survive in humanitarian crises that many times are forgotten in our parts of the world.

You will still find me at the starting line next Sunday, competing in the AG 45-49. But, instead of trying to finish in the upper half of my group, I will most probably find myself further back in the field. That’s OK though… I’ll still try to swim smart, bike strong and run tough, but not to win or make a personal best. Only because I can when so many can’t.

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