Moore returns to Norway for Norseman triathlon

Brian Fancher Photography Anne Ahern Moore, an endurance sports coach and avid cyclist, has gravitated to "gravel grind" bike races instead of triathlons in the past two years.

Last year, Anne Ahern Moore went to the Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon in Norway as a coach. While there, she realized she wanted to do it herself.

So last fall Moore applied to get in the ironman-distance triathlon — considered to be among the toughest in the world — not knowing if she would get in an event capped at 250 athletes.

She did. Early Saturday morning, the 41-year-old Mount Pleasant resident will plunge into the waters of an icy fjord (temps in the low 50s) to start a 2.4-mile swim. It will be followed by a 112-mile bike ride in often fog-shrouded mountains and a 26.2 mile run, featuring a final 5K of scrambling up rocks to the peak of a 6,100-foot mountain.

Moore, who is a local endurance sports coach and exercise physiologist, will be one of 30 women. Of those, half are Norwegian and only three, including herself, are American.

“I haven’t done a triathlon in a couple of years,” admitted Moore, noting that her attention has been focused on cycling. “As we drove the course last year, I starting thinking about doing it myself.”

She pitched the idea of returning to the event to her husband, Chris Moore, who had joined Anne last year as a crew for then-Hanahan resident Andy Balchin. Chris was fully supportive. He and Anne’s father, 71-year-old Donald Ahern, will serve as her crew on Saturday.

In October 2014, the Moores got the news that Anne was accepted, started saving money for the pricey trip and started training. They took advantage of having a home in Saluda, N.C., where Anne took to chilly swims in nearby lakes last winter and working on bike climbing fitness.

And if Norseman wasn’t a tough enough challenge for their year, Anne and Chris participated in the Dirty Kanza 200 – a 200-mile “gravel grind” bike ride on pavement, gravel, dirt and even ankle-deep mud roads in Kansas in late May.

They finished the event together in 18 hours and 54 minutes and Anne admits it sapped her, physically and mentally, more than expected. And it took her weeks to recover.

Upon arriving in Norway earlier this week, the Moores were faced with another challenge. The airline had misplaced her bike, helmet and shoes. Posts on Facebook, including one questioning if “the last 10 months have been a colossal waste o’ time,” drew words of encouragement and hope from friends.

The bike and gear showed up late Thursday evening, Norway time.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.