The Extra Mile
Background and history – Storheia Arena Utvikling
the extraMile – Bodø2024
Here is Storheia Arena
Storheia er et fjell på Hadseløya i Hadsel kommune i Nordland. Det har en høyde på 504 meter over havet og Ligger 2,5 km fra Stokmarknes og 5 km fra Melbu. Fra Storheia får du en 360-graders utsikt mot Husbydalen, Husbykollen, Møysalen, Melbu og den nordligste delen av Lofoten. You are standing in the middle of world-class nature and can take it all in. A feeling that everyone simply deserves to experience. The mountain has good trails both from Stokmarknes, Lekang and Melbu on southern part of Hadsel island. In addition to summit trips, Storheia is also used for paragliding and kiting.
The idea about Storheia Arena
Since 2016, we have been working on the idea of realizing Storheia Arena. A dream to give everyone the opportunity for the same spectacular experience that usually only a mountain hiker in good shape has access to. This is our extra mile to include everyone.
Storheia Arena is about making the area accessible to everyone. Regardless of functional level, one should be given the opportunity to look beyond, feel included, feel mastery and excitement. That is why we will realize Northern Norway’s greenest, coolest and most spectacular folk mountain – on the terms of the nature.
Together for the practical extra mile
In 2018, the cycling race Arctic Race of Norway set its sights on the Storheia Arena to create a spectacular summit finish. We all felt a momentum and drive to use this race as a pilot to test the arena. Could the local community in Hadsel host a sports event at an international level, create a folk festival and at the same time preserve the beautiful, magnificent nature of the Storheia Arena?
The “road committee” supported the plans to realize an improvement of the road and the possibility of a sustainable destination development. Together with the landowners, we went the extra mile, and moved the boundaries of national regulations by establishing infrastructure, including access roads, parking, chargers for electric wheelchairs and bicycles, digital inclusion technology and more. The gravel road towards the top of just over 7 km was asphalted to make the conditions optimal for a spectacular finish on Norway’s Mont Ventoux.
The eyes of the world directed towards Storheia
On the 17th of August 2019, we opened the Storheia Arena with the Arctic Race of Norway as the “setting”, but it turned out to be more than a big international cycling race. The folk festival with over 4,000 visitors was one thing, but when lsabell Valen (28) climbed Storheia Arena, we understood why we fought so hard for accessibility for everyone.
We got to test the planning, the volunteers and the infrastructure. We evaluated, we learned, and we improved, and we intend to continue on to do so. But the most important thing – the folk festival left no trace. This proved that the Storheia Arena is more than a dream, and now the project moved into another phase. In 2019, Storheia Arena became part of Bodø’s application for European Capital of Culture 2024 under the title “The Extra Mile” because of our execution ability.
Photo: Kolbjørn Hoseth Larssen
“It was a big thing for lsabell that the mayor gave her visibility she had never experienced before. At the same time, it was a visibility that I think extends further than just her. The disabled people want to be seen; they appreciate that they can be represented in a way so they are included and integrated into the community. You, the “Hadselværinger”, gave us a wonderful day and a warm memory, and made that lsabell, as a disabled person, experienced to be able to both participate in the event and to be seen. There are good qualities in a community and perhaps the most important thing for all of us in life .»
– Harald Valen, dad to Isabel
Phases and milestones
2018-2020: increase accessibility, infrastructure upgrade, kick-off and the official opening in August 2019. The international cycling race Arctic Race had its finish at Storheia Arena.
2020-2022: launch of storheia.no, implementation of participation tour and a series of collaboration meetings and workshops to anchor and create engagement to the project, preparation of business model for Storheia Arena, anchoring and decision in the municipal council of Hadsel municipality, the start of research project for nature-based tourism destinations – now known as the research project the Accesstour, collaboration with Bodø2024, video recording of Madrugada at Storheia.
2022-2024: the start of the project “the extra mile”, hire a development manager who can convert ideas into action and make experiences available to the people.
Events and activities that are in preparation: “Here comes the sun”, “The Extra Mile – knowhow”, “Spring Optimism”, “NatureTech”, “Midsummer Madness”, “Autumn Storms”, “Arctic Lights”. The content in phase 3 will largely be built and rigged by our development manager, partners, volunteers and the board of Storheia Arena.
Together with Bodø2024, Storheia Arena will now become best practice in sustainable visitor management, volunteering, inclusion technology and knowledge transfer. What we learn, the whole of Norway can learn from Northern Norway’s greenest, coolest and most spectacular folk mountain.
- Storheia Arena is designed for sustainable operation. We have established the necessary infrastructure as Northern Norway’s greenest, coolest and most spectacular folk mountain.
- Storheia Arena attracts companies that want to test and try out green technology for inclusion and public health.
- We have become a knowledge provider for planning organized events (arr. for people with reduced functional abilities) in nature.
- By being a “demonstrator” to show that it is possible, Storheia Arena has changed the public guidelines for what an outdoor arena can be like.
- Storheia Arena has helped Vesterålen to become attractive as an arena for big events because we collaborate, have a large volunteer network and have taken public health to a level with measurable results.
- We have helped Vesterålen and Nordland to achieve the sustainability goals and will celebrate how far we have come in 2030.