Does the fact that 14,000 people ran a 10km run at 11 PM sound hard to believe? Or does it seem exotic to the many like myself who aren’t from Sweden? Or does it help to imagine 60,000 people running a 21km half marathon, holding the world record for the largest half marathon? Both these are actually understatements of the enthusiasm shown by the same city – Göteborg. The world record is held by summer marathon Göteborgsvarvet.
In case you have read some of my earlier posts, I have more than once mentioned the shocking phenomenon of people running in heavy rain and thick snow! This ‘natural’ behaviour, coupled with a deep-rooted passion for athleticism has made Gothenburg the quintessential hub for variety of athletic events. For instance, just in the last two weeks I have been part of two unconventional runs – first a 5 km run drenched in colours – ColorMeRad, which was nothing less than a Holi celebration; the second run was for 10 km, and this time we were drenched in the now ebbing warmth of Swedish summer nights – MidnattSloppet.
Running in general is nothing unusual – people run everywhere, and more often dread running, given the inherent inertia of rest. But the aspect that is wonderfully different in Göteborg is the culture that is built around running. Not just runners, but the enthusiasm of the crowd all along the tracks was astonishing, and was the best energy booster. Elders were chanting ”Heja heja, springa springa”, while the kids cheering, and few others volunteering to play loud music en-route, serving their purpose of runners’ morale rejuvenation.
The latest run, MidnattSloppet, in particular had one rock band, a choir, an orchestra, some samba performances scattered all along the track. Quite a festivity, you see.
So, what happens to a school athlete, currently rusting, when put into an ambience like this one -take my case, for example: I have gotten into a motivating team of colleagues, we are training quite diligently to increase our stamina, and within the 3 weeks of running I have been able to push from the comfortable zone of 2 km to the recent 10 km. Remarkable what the right ambience can do to up the ante, and drive us to get better.
Although, one problem for the tropical animal that I am is the soon dawning winter. Last winter when I started running, the cold air was sharp enough to hurt me from inside. Hopefully I have grown numb to the cold.
The next half marathon is 21 km and I’m mentally preparing to run that. pace.
So, will you springa anytime soon in Göteborg?