This past Saturday the Bergen marathon and half marathon took place, and right after the event half of my newsfeed from friends living in town was flooded with post race pictures. I guess when a town and its race are this small, you’re bound to know a lot of people who participate.
Good news is that I ran the half marathon too, so I didn’t feel the need to hate myself for missing out. It all started a few months back when I was talking to two girlfriends who liked to run but never ran an actual half marathon race before. And given that I was training for the Paris marathon already and that Bergen is pretty hilly, we all decided to sign up for “just” the half marathon. One of our friends also signed up to run his first full marathon, so it was bound to be an exciting Saturday with too many “firsts” and I didn’t want to miss out. I knew I’d be really slow compared to everyone else, but then again it was my only chance to run a race in Bergen before I moved to Paris so I couldn’t say no; I kept telling myself that in April the sun would be shining in Bergen and that I’ll get to run by the water and enjoy the fresh air and the gorgeous views.
Don’t get me wrong, we did run by the water, and the views were gorgeous as always, and the air as fresh as I expected. The only difference between my dream and reality was that the sun didn’t make its entrance that day. It was dark, gloomy and rainy from the moment I stepped out of bed till the moment I got back home after the race. Seriously, it didn’t stop raining for one single minute. My clothes were all wet before I even started running. This horrible weather unfortunately also meant that there weren’t a lot of fans out there to cheer, and sadly those who were out weren’t as excited to cheer compared to fans in other races I’ve run in the past.
But at least the rain and the cold also meant that more people were willing to participate in the warm up session?
The race overall was quite hilly but still fun. Even without enough course cheering, you got to see some nice parts of Bergen and finally understand why the town is called “Mountains”. At a few points I had to walk up the hills because my legs were not working properly. At other points I sprinted up a hill only to realize that I needed to walk a few steps on top to be able to continue the race. I was so chill about this race since I didn’t have any time expectations that I somehow left my watch at home. This sadly meant that I had no idea how my pace was throughout the race, but it turns out that even with the walking here and there I somehow managed to finish in around 2 hours and 5 mins. I’m not too upset with that! Huge shoutout to Marlene who finished a little more than 10 minutes before me and Ines and was standing before the finish line waiting for us. As soon as she saw us, she yelled so loudly that there was no way for us not to sprint the last couple hundred meters. Gotta love that!
After the race we found Juanan (our friend who had just finished his first full marathon) in the massage area. We were all shivering from the cold and the rain, and Juanan’s legs were killing him, so we decided to walk into the hotel next door to warm up a little before we made our way to the bus stop and to home afterwards.
If you’re considering running the Bergen half or full marathon sometime in the future here are a few thoughts to consider:
* If this is your first race, I would advice you to pick a bigger city with a bigger crowd support to run in, especially if you’re not Norwegian. That way you’ll get to experience the true feel of a race with all the cheering and all, and hopefully get that extra push you need.
* If you usually avoid hills, then I’m sorry to inform you that there’s no way for you to avoid hills on this course. Starting from mile 1-2 up to the last few miles, there are hills EVERYWHERE.
* The full marathon course is basically two times the half marathon course. Some people like this, others don’t. I personally ran the Delaware marathon which was set up the same way and didn’t mind it too much, but I’m not sure how I would have felt about running this route twice back to back…
Overall though if you have a group of friends that are running the race, or if you just want to experience the city, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t sign up. Whatever your pace or time and whatever the weather looks like that day, you’re bound to get the runner’s high once you cross that finish line! (and a cool medal of course)
Congrats to my awesome three friends for completing their races. I’m so very proud of everyone!!