When your friend sends you a message about a half marathon in Norway and suggests a weeks walking holiday around it, there’s really no other reaction than to reply with “hell yes!”. So that was that, plans were in place to run 13.1 miles at midnight in the arctic circle in June.
After a week of hiking and drinking Norwegian craft beer in Bergen and Oslo, we landed in Tromsø at 1am to bright daylight a several partygoers outside our airbnb. We spent the following 2 days carbing up on cinnamon swirls and mostly sitting in coffee shops. At midnight the night before the run, someone (me!) had the stupid idea of walking up to the cablecar viewpoint, 450m in the hills above the island town. I also had the stupid idea to run down, succeeding in my big to beat my friends who were taking the cable car.
I subsequently woke up the day of the race unable to bend my legs. Whoops. Needless to say, we spent the day relaxing and watching the various other races that happen as part of the MSM festival. There was an under 11 race, a mini marathon (4.2km), a 10km, the marathon itself and the half. The marathon started at 8:30pm and did a quick loop of town (where we were able to shout some words of encouragement at Sam and Mike who had also traveled to Norway for the challenge) before heading over the huge bridge out of town.
At 10:30 it was our turn and, after a massive pizza and several coffees, I felt more like a nap than a run! We started on the same lap of the town before heading down to the harbour and joining up with a few of the marathoners. I’d soon worked out that Mike was miles ahead so looked forward to cheering him on from the other side of the road soon.
The first 5 miles of the out and back course flew by, it was flat and warm and the winning marathoners flying by was enough motivation to keep my head up and enjoy the views of the mountains and fjord on the way round. The light skies were bizarre, and did a good job of tricking me into believing that i was running a usual Sunday morning 10am start. I passed Mike after 5km at which point he was clearly looking forward to completing as he gleefully shouted “6km to go!” at me – which was true for one of us. The half way point was at Tromsø airport with more views of another amazing bridge and the mountains in the background. At one point there was a rainbow too!
On the way back I was (through one dodgy contact lens) looking out for Sam who would have been approaching the 20 mile mark when I saw her beaming smile and we both shouted something lovely at each other.
Despite the really flat and fast course, the final 5km were a struggle to even lift my legs after going off too fast (surprise!). I was overtaken by a couple of ladies and mustered up a bit of a final sprint to cross the line in 1:36:26 – 12th lady. Sam and Mike both also had great runs, with Mike completing the marathon in 14th place in a time of 2:51:07 and Sam in 4:47:00, great to run with some HPHs and awesome to see a few Saltaire Strider vests out and about too.