It will be a challenge

Johannes Helleland


Johannes Helleland


  • Nationality
  • Birthday
    January 25, 1983
  • Occupation
    Helicopter pilot
  • Residence
    Godvik (Norway)
  • Experience
  • Wing
    NIVIUK Klimber 2P
  • Harness
    ADVANCE Ligthness 3 X-alps 21
  • Helmet
    SALOMON Pioneer

Knut Fossdal Aarhus


  • Nationality
  • Residence
    Valestrandsfossen (Norway)

Team details

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What is your greatest sporting success?
At present I would like to say that being selected for the X-Pyr, with this year’s high level of applicants, is to me a great sporting success.

When and why did you start paragliding?
I first started paragliding back when I was 18 years old, in 2001, and I have been flying ever since. This last year was actually my 20th year flying paragliders. Both my father and brother were early to take to the air with their paragliders, and my local club deep in the Hardangerfjord saw a major boost in activity at the time when I started up. Perfect timing and a very good start to my flying career. I proved to be a quick learner. My home area is a brilliant site to go XC, and my XC career started very early. This is still my “go to” site for recreational XC flights in the majestic scenery of the Norwegian fjords and glaciers.

What is your mountaineering experience?
My childhood home is at the foot of Hardangervidda mountain plateau – the largest mountain plateau in Europe. This area of Norway has some spectacular nature with high mountains, deep fjords, and large glaciers.

Every year I spend lots of time in the mountains, both summer and winter. From when I was young, I was allowed to be in the mountains by myself with a backpack, tent and a fishing rod. Exploring new areas and routes. My experience grew, so did the distances covered, and the time spent in the mountains got longer. Hiking for a week or two, alone or with friends, was part of every summer holiday for many years. Later, paragliding was introduced to expand my outdoor life, and I was able to combine hiking with flying. Flying back down from the top of a mountain is always a great reward after hiking uphill.

What does your typical training week consist of?
It’s difficult to state a typical training week. It depends a lot on work situation, family, and weather. But in general a training period consists of 3 weeks together. First week is light, the second medium, and the third high intensity/load. And then repeat.

Every week, independent of load (light, medium, hard) is polarized. Meaning a lot of volume training spiced up with some high intensity intervals. In addition every week includes one or two sessions with stability/strength/injury prevention training.Typically I use a TRX sling and mosty only my own body weight as load.

The balance between training, and at the same time preventing injuries can at times be challenging. Also the factor of an active family life needs to be taken into account. Recovery time is not always easy to find, and the total load needs to be adjusted sometimes. At the age of 39 recovery time is longer than it was 20 years ago 😉

Hiking and running is an important part of the training, but I also include a lot of biking. Biking has less stress on the joints and body, and it’s a good way to get cardio training and at the same time prevent injuries. Different types of load are important in that matter.
And of course whenever weather allows I try to include as much hike and fly as possible. Though winter in western Norway is not very cooperative in that way…

What are your best and worst sporting memories?
Both the best and the worst memory is probably the same event. Some years ago I joined a 445 km long bike race. Lots of climbs and elevation gain in some of Norway’s most scenic mountain areas. It starts in the evening and we ride during the night.

Anyway, I woke up on race day and I didn’t feel good. I had a headache and I felt a little sick. After some cups of coffee, food, and a painkiller or two I felt good enough to start the race. In addition to my bad shape the weather was really crap. Rain, wind, and forecast of snow over the highest mountains.

Due to the mentioned factors I started the race really controlled, with a close watch on pulse at all times. Halfway I started to feel better. I was prepared for really bad weather, but in my opinion the weather turned out to be better than expected. Bonus! Though it was wet and windy, it was at least not snowing.
Halfway many riders stood down from the race. Wet, cold, and exhausted. I felt okay.

During the rest of the race we (a group of few riders) overtook more and more riders that did not manage to finish. Every fifth rider was not able to complete this edition of the race. In the end we reached the goal line in quite OK shape. Also the weather had passed and the sun was shining. Good moment!

Why did you choose the X-Pyr?
First of all I have never flown in the Pyrenees, but the mountains look great on pictures and videos and have always appealed to me. Second, the race is interesting in many ways. It’s a coast to coast race with high mountainous areas in between. It will be challenging with different terrain and weather conditions. Also the duration and length of the race appeals to me. It’s long enough to make strategy a big part of the race, and stamina will be a major factor for success, not necessarily speed and pace. And finally I like the race because it’s somewhat dependent on a strong team, not only the athlete. Teamwork will be important.

Have you participated in the X-Pyr before? How was it?

Have you flown in the Pyrenees before? What do you think about them?
No. But I have planned a pre-competition trip in May to get to know the area, and mountains a little better.

What will your strategy be during the race?
This is hard to answer because there are many factors that can change before and during the race, but in general the strategy will be to always be on the move. I’m not necessarily the fastest, but I have good stamina and endurance, so hopefully that will benefit me during a race of several days.
Another known factor is that races like this are always done best when in the air. Hence it’s important to fly when it’s flyable, and at times maybe be a bit conservative to avoid being on the ground when others are flying. All kilometers covered in the air are less energy demanding than on the ground.
Even though this is a race I look at it as an adventure, and a journey that we will accomplish as a team. Good teamwork will be an important factor for success. We will try to have fun as we go, and I think that is a good recipe for a good race.

What excites you most about the X-Pyr?
I look forward to getting into adventure mode. To have a goal, and find the best way to reach that goal. I’m also hoping for some epic flights and hikes in great, and unknown mountains. And I’m looking forward to meeting many new and interesting people and fellow competitors.

What scares you the most about the event?
I won’t say I’m scared of anything in the race, then I wouldn’t apply. But I have some factors that I consider challenging, and things I need to be aware of. This is a race with a lot of decisions to be made as we go, both strategically but also safety wise. Safety can be compromised by competition “mode”, lack of knowledge of the area, and fatigue. Fatigue will be a factor that can be hard to recognize, but it can have a major impact on decisions, and hence safety. That’s what probably worries me the most. It’s important to be aware of, and have a good assistant and team to help recognize and correct if required.
I’m glad to see the X-Pyr organization have increased the mandatory rest time for this edition of the race. That’s in my opinion a very important move by the organization to facilitate enough sleep and recovery, without making the competition less interesting. Kudos!

Why will he/she make a good assistant?
A good assistant needs to be ready at any time. Read the situation and be one step ahead with regard to plan and requirements. He needs to be reliable, structured and prepared. A good assistant also needs to be a good motivator. A positive attitude is necessary, and always searching for possibilities.

Anything else you like to comment?

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