Saturday 7th January 2017 – 3pm
To make sure my 10th half marathon was something a little bit special, I travelled to the Arctic Circle to take part in one of the more extreme races on offer. The sun last set in Tromso in November, and won’t rise again until later in January. The darkness and a start time of 3pm made for quite a surreal day.
There was snow and ice on the ground, with icy puddles where they had turned to slush. I added extra grip to my trainers and wore a few more layers than usual. The temperature was around freezing, but there was a strong side wind for half of the run. It snowed throughout the race, turning to hail a few times for good measure.
The first part of the race was through residential areas, quiet roads and footpaths. It was undulating, but very pretty with Christmas lights in the house windows. Quite a few locals were out to support along the way, with cow bells, and shouts of “Hey Ya”. The route then reached the sea, and was on the footpath next to the road around the island to the airport. It was much more exposed to the elements, but with lovely views across to the other islands, with their lights shining in the night sky. The halfway point was the airport, with a few zigzags, and then back to Tromso via the same route.
All along the route there were oil burners by the side of the paths. There were more of them in the run up to the finish line so it looked quite spectacular. The marshals did a great job of closing the roads, the runners definitely had priority. The bag storage was efficient, and there were space blankets, bananas, hot squash and energy drinks at the end. A medal as a reward was great, although no shirt unless you bought one.
There was a pasta party on the Friday night which was great and as it was held at the aquarium (Polaria) there was also the chance to look around, and watch a couple of films about the local area and the northern lights. Sadly the northern lights were not on show this weekend, but perhaps this is an excuse to visit again!
There was a race magazine produced for the event…
All in Norwegian, but you may recognise a certain running club vest on page 10…!