My friend Julie wanted to do a half-marathon to celebrate turning 60. The Tromso Midnight Sun half marathon fell on her actual birthday so last weekend we flew over to take part. It was easy to pick out fellow runners on the plane over from their running shoes and race shirts. I love the easy and instant camaraderie you find with runners you have never met before as you share races done, goals hoped for, and gather ideas for your next adventure.
Our race started at 10:30pm on Saturday night. Unfortunately the midnight sun was nowhere to be seen, and it rained nonstop. We’d seen the weather forecast so had prepared ourselves, and running in rain is often energising because it’s the opposite to our normal reaction to rain, which is to hide away from it or cover up. You know you’re going to get soaked so you might as well embrace the rain and enjoy it.
The route took us round the edge of the island to the airport and back. The marathon runners had set off a couple of hours before us and the second half of their route was the same as ours, so we were able to see the frontrunners and cheer on those who were struggling. I was determined not to repeat my Hackney half mistake of setting off too fast and paying for it later. I had a much better race and came in just under two hours. Julie beat the time she was expecting too, so we were both very happy. It was a great event, with lots of international runners and support round the route even in the middle of the night.
We loved Tromso and fitted in a ride in a cable car, a visit to the Arctic Cathedral and a fishing trip while we were there. Tromso has no Starbucks or Costa, no Dyson hand dryers in the toilets and no fences around gardens. It does have an intriguing underground road tunnel system that you enter in the town centre under a row of houses and comes out up near the university which is where we were staying. The sun did come out eventually as you can see in the photo above.
It’s interesting being in a place where it’s light all night. It tricks you into not being tired late at night, but means that it’s hard to get to sleep when you finally do get into bed. My room didn’t have blackout blinds and I’d forgotten to take an eye mask, so I improvised by sleeping with a pair of black pants on my head. It made me laugh so much, but it did work so I thought I’d share it with the world in case you find yourself in the same situation. You’re welcome.