|Year of 1st edition:||1990|
|World Athletics Label Road Race:||No|
|Expected participants:||6000 (all distances)|
|Distances:||42K, 21K, 10K, 4K, 800m (kids run)|
|Type of race:||Road, hilly|
|Time limit:||5h 30min (42K); 3h 30min (21K)|
When I decided to run the Tromsø midnight sun half marathon i felt like having a déjà-vu. This, because I have already run a similar race, the Midnight sun run in Iceland. So why to try this experience again?
There are multiple answers to this question.
First, each experience is different and enriching in different ways 🙂 so I was curious to see similarities, and differences.
Secondly, running a half marathon in Iceland exposed me to a nature I haven’t seen before in my life. The landscapes were breathtaking and this was very energising, compensating for a lack of massive support from locals that is normal in these cases.
Thirdly, my Icelandic midnight sun experience was more of a… midnight cloud. The sky was cloudy all time (I can’t blame the organisation for that!). So I wanted to try the real deal – Scandinavian gods of weather allowing!
So, let’s go through the experience, starting from the booking process as usual.
The booking process
Easy and smooth, good and clear website in English and local language. The website is part of a bigger series of events that includes, among others, the polar night (running with the northern lights!), the Sami week, and the Arctic snowshoe race.
Navigate between the events and the options is easy, and there is a clear and complete FAQ section.
In case of any doubt, dropping an Email is an option: the organization and the race director have been very kind and ready to help. I got answers to all questions I had, and in due time.
It was easy to get the booking done in a good number of clicks. There are also extra options that can be booked, like a race T-shirt (not included in the race pack), or the pasta party. the organization offers also the option to book experiences (cruises in the fjords, kajaking, etc.) with promo codes.
The price, considered the absence of a race tshirt in the package, is quite expensive, but so is Norway in general, so…
As already mentioned, the organization is very keen on helping and supporting through the whole process from booking to race day.
The Expo was located in the city hall, very close to start and arrival (but Tromsø city is not that big, and all is fairly close). If you are used to big races, it could be small, but it was actually nicely organized and no queue to get the bib (inside a useful shoe bag that can be used to store your stuff on race day).
On race day, there is an inside area where is possible to use facilities like bathroom and shower (there is a queue, as usual in these cases) and the baggage storage. I think this was very well organised, also with tables and chairs to support the runners.
The race day has different events planned together: a kid race below 1K, a 4,2K, a 10K and finally, half and full marathon. These last two events are the ones concluding the day: in 2022, the marathon was starting at 20:30 and the half marathon at 22:30, with runners of both competitions ending (unless you are very fast!) after midnight.
One big plus was the warm up session organized before each race, with local gym instructors. Very partecipated, effective… and fun!
All in all, good organization and personal feedback.
The course for all distance (well, from 10K and above, at least) develops from the city center to the outskirts on the coast, and back.
I would have therefore expected a flat course, which is not the case. Never assume! The path was quite hilly, due to the conformation of the road, and of course the more the distance, the more the effect. The D+ of the half marathon, in my case, was 112 meters.
The course is more challenging for marathoners due to a double passage on a steep bridge connecting Tromsø (which is on an island) to the land.
The landacapes are dominated by the nature, and very much enjoyable in the midnight sunshine. One issue that marathoners reported to me is due to the fact that there is an overlap, meaning that they pass a second time in some parts, and nearly when the half marathon starts. This creates a bottleneck effect as some of the marathon runners have to pass through the slowest half marathoners. Considered this, the slow start (no corrals to split people based on expected arrival) and the hilly profile, I would not define this race fast.
The weather conditions were uncertain until the end, and after a sunny day some clouds were threatening us. Truth is, we were lucky. Also the temperature was perfect to run. This is not always given at that latitude!
The beauty of the landscape was incredible. Running beneath the coast, with blooming edelflowers and the sea surrounded by white mountains is already beautiful.
Doing it while running a midnight sun marathon is difficult to forget.
My girlfriend decided to run a 10K this time. She did amazingly, almost beating her personal best, and she could attend my arrival, as I could for her. There was the chance of get to know many other incredible runners, like Stevie, from UK, who tried the challenge of the marathon, Silvia from Austria, who smashed her PB on the 21K. But also Sotiris and Stergios, two runners from Greece.
Stergios is blind and was finishing his 46th marathon. All with different stories, motivations and nationalities. All united by the passion for this sport, for seeing new places and push our limits.
I also want to mention the warm participation of the local people and tourists around the whole course. They gave me the energy to sprint at the end. This warm feeling was not really what I would have expected above the polar circle. Amazing!
Tromsø Midnight Sun Marathon is a running festival more than a race. It is an experience in a region that many of us don’t visit regularly. I recommend it, at least once in a lifetime thanks to the great organization, the unique conditions, the beauty of the course.
It won’t be a low budget race (be careful in the restaurants, the bill can be very high!). It may not be easy to reach, but maybe this is part of the magic. Being part of something so different and special, whose uniqueness make it even more special.
Find some trip advises about things to do in Tromsø.
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