Recently, I ran back-to-back half-marathons – one in Oslo one day, and one in Copenhagen the next day – proving that I’m crazy, but only half. But seriously, over the course of one weekend, I completed two races in two countries, thus conquering two more destinations in my quest run the world. If you follow An Unstoppable Journey’s Facebook page (shameless plug), you probably read about all of the running around necessary for me to actually get to both of those start lines. It was an adventure, but thankfully, it all worked out in the end.
TWO RACES, ONE WEEKEND
Maybe I should start with an explanation as to why I did a two-fer. See, what had happened was… I signed up for the Copenhagen Half Marathon (CPH) months ago, and had long had that runcation sorted in terms of flight, accommodation and such. Then a few weeks before CPH, because I’ve run other BMW sponsored races, I got an email informing me that it was still possible to register for the Oslo Marathon. Since Norway was unchartered territory in terms of running, I was intrigued. And instead of being deterred when I discovered that the Oslo Marathon was the day before CPH, I was determined to somehow make this “touch of Scandinavia” race weekend work.
Since I already had everything sorted for Copenhagen, I found that the easiest, and ultimately cheapest, thing to do was to book a round-trip flight from to Oslo from Copenhagen. Because the Oslo Marathon started in the afternoon, I took a flight from Copenhagen the morning of the race, then flew back the next morning, which was the day of the CPH.
When I arrived in Oslo, I left my bag at the airport storage in Oslo, which is about 50km/35mi from the city center, because I was worried that I wouldn’t have time to check into my hotel first, then get to the start on time. I then raced to the race expo/start, where I still had to pick up my number. I’m glad to report I got there in plenty of time, with nearly 90 minutes before my corral was scheduled to start.
Early the next morning, I made my way back to Oslo airport, and less than 24 hours after arriving, flew back to Copenhagen, and repeated the same pre-race ritual: leave bag at airport storage, and race to the start. The only difference is I already had my number because I picked it up a couple of days prior.
Now that I’ve set the scene, here are my reviews of the races, starting with Oslo: the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good: The first thing in the good column is the event itself. Lots of people (an estimated 25,000) participated in a number of events, including 10K, half-marathon, marathon, a kids and family run, a wheelchair 10K, and the Oslo Triple, which is the combination of the marathon, half-marathon and 10k for a total of 73km, and if anything disastrous happened, we were none the wiser. There were hydration stops about every 4 kilometers, and lots of crowd support, this was no doubt in large part due to the fact the event was on a Saturday in the city center, but I’ll take it.
I probably shouldn’t reference the weather because, obviously, that’s not something that can be controlled. But since I am a professed fair weather runner, the weather will always effect my overall impression of a race. As always, I had been obsessively checking the forecast for days, and all predicted that it would be overcast and cool. Actually, it was warm and sunny, what I would call perfect running weather, so that’s another item in the good category.
Another good thing was the communication. The Oslo Marathon organization communicated frequently via email, and in the days closer to the race, via SMS messaging to remind me to collect my race number and immediately following the race, of my results.
Oh, and the medal. Medals are always good.
The Bad: The bad for me was that we didn’t run past many of Oslo’s sights. The start/finish was next to the Nobel Peace Center, and we also ran for a stretch along the Oslofjord seaside, which was gorgeous. We only ran along the perimeters of the Vigeland Sculpture Park and Akerhus Castle and Fortress, getting a quick glimpse of the statues and canons. The rest of the run was through neighborhoods and the downtown shopping area.
The course wasn’t horrible like some others I’ve run (I’m looking at you Milano City Marathon and North London Half Marathon), but since my time in Oslo was so brief, and any running around for sightseeing I was going to do would have literally been during the race, I was disappointed we didn’t pass more.
The Ugly: Yeah, I got nothing for this column.
Final Assessment: Though I am slightly disappointed that the course didn’t pass more of the city’s landmarks, overall I was happy with the Oslo Marathon and would recommend it (if you’re interested, register HERE). The event was organized very well, and I’ll give extra kudos for the excellent communication before, during and after the race. I would say it was worth the “adventure’ it took to get there.
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