Gothenburg half-marathon 2023

Gothenburg has a long tradition of organizing running competitions. The first edition of the Gothenburg half-marathon was in 1980. Before the pandemic, there were over 60000 runners in some years participating in this famous race.

This building is called “The Lipstick” because of its shape. It is considered the ugliest building in Sweden. You have excellent views from the top of it because you don’t see “The Lipstick” building.

This year there were only 38000 people registered as the race is growing again after the first post-pandemic edition last year. Some things make this race unique. It happens on Saturday, while most marathons and half-marathons happen on Sunday. Another thing is that the race starts at 1 PM in contrast with other races that begin in the morning. People are grouped in 25 chunks, departing one after another based on their expected finishing time. Due to the grouping of people, the start lasts for 3 hours ( from 1 PM to 4 PM). If we add that the last people pass the finish line sometime after 7 PM, that makes it a full-day event in Gothenburg from the morning until evening.

The Poseidon statue is a symbol of Gothenburg. At km 16 in the race, you run around this monument.

Each group has a designated area where the people should gather at a specific time. The organizers take that group of people and bring them to the start when their time to run has come. It is pretty impressive to see that.

Unfortunately, I was seeded by default in the group with a target time of 2:50. The only way to be moved to a faster group was to have a time faster than 1:45 in an official half-marathon ( or similar times in 10k or marathon). Based on my previous results, I wrote to organizers asking to start in the 1:50 group, but they rejected my ask because the rules needed to cover that. My suggestion to organizers is to improve those thresholds ( add more criteria, not just 1:45), as it’s not fun if you want to run with a pace of 5’15″/km to run in a group that has an average speed of 7’30″/km on narrow streets. My friend Bobo was lucky. He had an official time under 1:45 and was placed in the 1:45 group.

Skansen Kronan fortress

It was a hot day on May 13th. The organizers emailed participants the day before, asking people to keep it calm and not target personal records or good times because of the weather. On the positive side, they had water and isotonic drinks every other kilometer. That differs from most races with only 3 or 4 refreshing points on the route.

View from the fortress at km 18 of the race.

Considering these things and that the route had uphills and downhills, I decided to enjoy the sightseeing and do a slow race. To enjoy the run and the show and not care about the time. By the time I started the race, Bobo was about to finish it. There were no events during the race, and I finished at 2:10, less tired than after other races. Bobo had an ambitious race and good result finishing in 1:48. Quite impressive given the circumstances.

I liked that many improvised showers were on the route with cold water. You were supposed to run through them, but one participant in front of me stopped under the water, and I had difficulty avoiding him.

Close to the finish line after 20 km run

Another positive thing was the live singing bands. There were more live bands than kilometers on the way. They played music from classical, marching bands, rock, or PostModern Jukebox style. Generally, you’ll see three or maybe four bands in every half-marathon, but not around 20.

The finish happened inside a stadium, similar to the Malaga half-marathon, and I like this part as a running competition is historically connected with the stadium. A special mention to the wonderful crowd of people that was encouraging the runners all the way in the city. Some people brought chairs and drinks on the street and sat to enjoy the show.

Happy to have finished a difficult race

I am delighted that I had the chance to run all the races I planned last year and even one more (Malaga). That means five half-marathons in 9 months. In the meantime, I also ran 1000 km from that moment, and now I passed the 9400 km mark.

This time I will not make plans like the previous year, but I would like to run in the Bucharest half-marathon on October 15th as it would be a symbolic cross of the 10000 km run in a race that was my first half-marathon run back in 2015.