The Faroe Islands were never really on my radar for a place to visit, but after I heard about an adventure race across the remote islands in the North Atlantic I thought this was the perfect opportunity to explore.
The race consisted of 12 continuous stages, including street orienteering, mountain biking, trekking, pack rafting and a cliff jump! The estimated finishing time was about 3.5 days, covering up to 500km and 20,000m of ascent, but for some teams it would take over 5 days.
Prologue – Street-Orienteering (9am Sunday)
The race started with a prologue of street orienteering, we ran around the capital city of Torshavn searching for orienteering flags. Our mixed team of 4 made light work of the narrow lanes and old town houses, emerging from the leg in first place. Not a place that we would remain for long, but it was nice to be leading some of the world’s top teams into the mountain bike stage.
Leg 1 – MTB (Sunday morning)
Leg 2 – Trek (Sunday evening)
After 7 hours of cycling (and a fair amount of hike-a-bike) and our first of many tunnels, it was time for the BIG trek. 68km (including a short, midnight pack raft). The views were incredible, clouds rolled over the western peaks as we picked our way over ridge lines and through barely touched valleys. Although it wasn’t until we returned here after the race did I noticed a classic view was just behind us. Sometimes it’s good to remember to look up from the map!
The navigation was not particularly challenging, although the misty tops did cause some teams problems, allowing us to stay in touch with a few teams around 6-8th place.
Leg 3 – Packraft (Monday evening)
24 hours later we emerged into a small coastal village where our pack rafts were waiting to be paddled 40km through darkness to another set of islands. In the middle of the night, fatigue started to set in. With the sharp, rocky coast lines, finding a place to get out of our tiny pump up rafts was a challenge. But fortune was upon us – we paddled to a small jetty and found an old boat house suitable for a short 1 hour sleep.
The next five hours were some of the toughest, mentally, for us as a team. The distant lights on the horizon didn’t appear to get any closer for hours on end. We battled sleepmonsters, boredom and a headwind, until the sun began to rise.
Leg 4,5,6 – Bike, trek, bike (Tuesday morning)
Finally, dry land! Now time for some more cycling over to a cliff jump and a dive to an underwater checkpoint. Much to the amusement of the marshals, teammate Rickie overcame the buoyancy of the wetsuits provided by stripping off, before collecting the 2nd submerged control.
The next trekking leg was a new one for all of us, we were to navigate the rocky skyline armed with nothing but a 3d carved map! A challenge at the best of times, but with minimal visibility and huge, rugged crags and impassable terrain in almost all directions, this was more about reading the terrain than reading a map.
Then back to the bikes for a connecting leg (including a 6km underwater tunnel) to take us to the crux of the entire race – the packraft-trek.
Leg 7 – Packraft/trek (Tuesday night)
Before this race I’d barely heard of pack rafting, let alone practised transitioning from water to trekking, carrying everything – including wetsuits, paddles and PFD. But that’s the beauty of adventure racing – it takes you places you’ve never been before and challenges what you believe to be possible. The organisers cut the first section from the course after the top 3 teams struggled with the currents, so we headed straight for WP3.
The first of 3 mountains was tackled in darkness, making the very steep and rocky descent hard to navigate accurately. After our 2nd (and final) sleep of just 90 minutes in a magical mountain hut that appeared at the perfect time, we were on the move again. We found our route down blocked by the classic steep cliffs of the Faores, but a minor traverse to passable ground soon had us back to the coast and pumping up our rafts again.
Inflate, paddle, deflate, trek.
Inflate, paddle, deflate, trek
Leg 8-12 – bike, trek, bike (Wednesday evening)
And leg 7 was behind. Before heading back from the distant eastern islands we still had to visit the highest sea cliff in Europe, with a short out and back up a 800m mountain (sadly fully in the clouds and no final view to remember). The organisers had cut the final trek stage to help keep the event on schedule, so all that stood between us and a proper bed was a 100km ride back to the finish line in Torshaven. With a renewed sense of purpose (and 2 late night garage stops) we finished at 1am, 88 hours after we had started. We placed a very respectable 7th place (out of 25 teams).
The race was a beautiful way to see the incredible country of the Faroes. We were so lucky with the weather, barely a drop of rain during the event. The day we left, the heavens opened and the clouds descended. Visibility was varied throughout our race, but we snatched some unforgettable views. It was the luck of the draw. The organisers did a great job with gaining permissions to access hidden corners of the mountains, again, making this a once in a lifetime experience. My teammates and I are so lucky and grateful to be able to do these things.
I hope to make another video of the race in the coming months, so you can see more of the experience. And remember, there are 2 videos of previous races if you haven’t seen them yet … https://youtube.com/@furiousfoggy?si=aarnKg1U_dBgrl9p