Running is a popular activity among Icelanders. Not all runners in Iceland run to win the races they sign up for, but many are ambitious, wanting to top their best time and challenge themselves.
For others, running by yourself, with friends or training partners, is simply an opportunity to be and to enjoy.
The main event on Reykjavík’s Culture Night (held for the 20th time last Saturday) is the Reykjavík Marathon. There are several events to sign up for, one of which is the full marathon and another the half-marathon.
Those two events are growing more popular each year, and this year alone, I heard 1,200 runners signed up for the marathon itself.
Most of these runners are ordinary people with busy lives who make the time to train for this challenge.
I signed up for the half-marathon to challenge myself, to prove to myself that I can go from being a little overweight to my old fit self; I’m actually fitter now than I’ve been since I was a child gymnast.
My goal wasn’t only to finish but to finish in style. I set the time to an estimated two hours or less.
I missed the goal time by 9 minutes and 41 seconds. Nonetheless, it was a good time and an improvement from the unofficial and spontaneous training half-marathon I ran earlier in the summer.
The week leading up to the marathon was one of the most challenging weeks of my life.
Three days before the race, I got a bad cold and began treating it immediately with over-the-counter medication. I was successful at first but then my darling dog Emma got sick too.
She had an allergic reaction and last Thursday morning, I had to take her to the vet’s with my dad. She got the help that she needed but it wasn’t enough.
On Thursday night my husband and I had to take Emma back to the vet as she vomited everything she ate within minutes of eating.
The vet who saw us knows Emma and was wonderful in every possible way, reassuring us that some dogs are more sensitive than others as it is with humans. We left the vet’s clinic less worried than upon our arrival.
On Friday morning, I woke up feeling absolutely rotten. I could barely get out of bed with my nose stuffed, a headache and sore throat. It seems the few hours of sleep over the two previous days had caught up with me and a bad cold had turned nasty.
The realization that there was a real chance all this training for the Reykjavík marathon, which was to take place the next day, would be for nothing was devastating.
On top of that, my worrying about Emma hadn’t stopped as she was still (and is) in recovery after the allergic reaction she suffered.
Waking up on Saturday, still with a headache and stuffed nose, but feeling better nonetheless, was a relief.
It’s always risky to run long distances when unwell but for the runner who has put so much heart into training for the event, it’s hard to deny yourself the chance to finish the task.
So on Saturday, my sister who was also recovering from a nasty cold, her boyfriend who was healed from his cold spell, and I got to run our first half-marathon. The day was beautiful, cloudy but still, and the temperatures were mild.
My sister and I finished at pretty much exactly the same time, yet somehow missed each other entirely at the finish line. Her boyfriend finished in a spectacular 1 hour and 51 minutes, a time I aim to finish at in next year’s race.
I think it’s safe to say that for those of us who ran in the Reykjavík Marathon event, whether it was the marathon, half-marathon, 10k, 3k Fun Run or the Lazy Town race for kids, the sentiment was that the day was ours.
Even though it started raining later on, not a drop of rain fell upon us during the race, and the support of the crowds watching was heart-warming.
It seems, that despite all our mundane differences, running brings us closer together.
Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir(at)gmail.com