Friday, June 6, 2008

Stockholm Marathon

After I ran the Napa Valley Marathon in 2004, I decided to semi-retire from marathoning. Not running. Just marathoning. Those memorable 26.2 mile (42.2 kilometer) road races. I wanted to make my knees (and ankles) happy. I thought 3 marathons would satisfy my marathon curiosity, especially after I met my time goal of under 5 hours at Napa Valley.

In 2006, I almost changed my mind and considered running a 50 kilometer trail ultramarathon (31.1 miles). Witnessing a friend of a friend run a 100-mile (161 kilometer) race through the California Sierra during a summer heat wave inspired me to consider a return to distance races. You'll find a podcast about what I witnessed at that event, the Western States 100 here. But I never acted on that inspiration.

Now, completely in love with Stockholm, I find myself considering running the Stockholm Marathon. Combining my passion for running and my love of Stockholm seems natural. The course follows two loops of 13.1 miles, 21.1 kilometers, through Central Stockholm. There's only one significant climb (for a marathon), over the bridge Västerbron. The mostly waterside race (Stockholm is surrounded by water, built on 14 islands) finishes on the track at the 1912 Olympic Stadium. The city just hosted the 30th running of the marathon last weekend. You can view photos of the event here. Kenyan Willy Korir won the 2008 race in a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 3 seconds. Isabellah Andersson of Sweden finished first among the women with a time of two hours, 34 minutes and 14 seconds.

Here's what concerns me. I've read lots of comments on about the heat (Stockholm gets warm and sometimes hot in June). The official recorded high temperatures during the 2008 race: 24-25 degrees C, 75-77 degrees F. Yikes! That's just as warm as the Honolulu Marathon, minus the humidity. The start time doesn't help. The race begins at 2pm. I thought marathons were always run in the morning to help avoid heat issues. Stockholm can be warmer than San Francisco in June.

I've read the race gets great crowd support. That's important to me in deciding whether to run a race.

Nearly 15-thousand runners lined up at the 2008 start line and close to 14-thousand participants made it across the finish line. I prefer races that limit the entry field to fewer than 10-thousand participants to avoid overcrowding issues.

Start time, heat and potential overcrowding aside, it's a fun thought, capping my marathon experiences in a city that is now near and dear to me. I'm thinking about it.

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