A Race for the Ages ~ Göteborgsvarvet 21k

Part of the reason we decided to travel to Sweden was to race in a half marathon.  Yes, we are two crazy running sisters that tend to prefer running and exploring to raging the night away.  Sure I love to have a good time but instead of hitting up the Scandinavian club scene, we stuck to what we know best – ice cream + running.

This race in particular may have thrown us a curveball.  When picking out the race, we looked for something over Memorial Day weekend (as that was the time of travel) and stumbled upon the Goteborgsvarvet in Goteborg, Sweden.  Well, turns out this was/is the largest half marathon in the world with over 64,000 people.  It.was.insane. and totally worth the experience.  Funny enough, one of my college friends who is an inspiration to me (she was our triathlon president and super brilliant) lives in Sweden and happened to be at the race!  We managed to find her starting corral (lucky duck ran around 1:20pm) and said hi!

IMG_7325 Because we arrived on Friday, we were able to wander around the city and pick up our race packets ahead of time.  The actual race started around 1pm on Saturday, with subsequent waves going off every 20 minutes.  We could have easily arrived on Saturday and just picked up our packets right before the race, but this scenario allowed us to relax and enjoy the pre-race experience.

IMG_7326IMG_7329 IMG_7330 IMG_7333 The delicious schwarma chicken salad we consumed for lunch before going to find Pitch Perfect 2 in theaters.  I mean, we had already had at least 6-7 days of conversation with each other, so a few hours of mindless entertainment sounded great.


~ obligatory pre-race photo ~

I would be happy to break down the race and go through each mile like some bloggers do but to be honest, I sort of blacked out during parts.  Between the nerves of the race – wanting to do well and feeling a bit insecure at times amongst some of the faster and maybe svelter runners – and the late start time, it all was a bit of a blur.  I recall weaving through so many people, trying to push past the kids (adorable at times, utterly annoying at others) who were chanting Hej yah (imagine the opening song of Frozen), and maneuvering across two bridges, all while trying to keep up with Meghan.


Let me just list out some of the thoughts that went through my head that day.  I will be leaving out all the curses that were floating around at times.  Like why the hell did we sign up for this? Does anyone else ask that before every race? Because I certainly do 😉

  • This will be such a cool race – new country, different people, different culture
  • Oh gosh, we only slept until 6:30am.  What are we going to do until a race at 3:53? We can watch a few episodes of whatever is on. {Gilmore Girls and Brothers & Sisters…not bad, now I know why some people like to binge watch TV on the weekend, it can be fun}
  • Food – breakfast came with the hostel but man there are so many options.  I don’t know where to begin or where to end? (probably not the best idea to have me in a buffet on race day…stress usually leads to mindless munching)
  • Post breakfast we try to hang out in the lobby…make it 10 minutes and I’m already antsy
  • Deciding to walk back towards the mall, we wander an athletic store, pick up an American flag bathing suit (because that’s of course necessary) and the nerves only get worse.  Fine, let’s go to the race.
  • Why are there so many people here?  Seriously, where do all these people come from?


  • Ugh the nerves of race-day are setting in.  I shouldn’t have eaten so much for breakfast.  {stressing…} Hm, do I need to eat something for lunch? I mean, calories wise probably not, but I don’t want to die on the course of exhaustion.  {subsequently stress eat my kid’s cliff bar and passionfruit juice}
  • Wait, that whole rule about not doing anything new on race day? oops. I think I have done everything new today.  I’ve never even raced in this shirt. Ah well.
  • IMG_0079Eyeing the candy licorice ropes that are as omnipresent as a New York hot dog and pretzel stand. So basically everywhere. Boy I could have totally purchased one and eaten the entire thing prior to my race but knew that would be such a poor decision.  I also don’t really like candy candy that much, so it was more for the satisfaction of having something to do besides think about the race.
  • Do we really have to start so late?  Let’s try to run early.  Screw it, we are jumping into another group (*I normally follow the rules but when we were in line for the bathrooms at 2:30 and the woman in front of me was supposed to start ~2:25, I knew it wouldn’t matter that much)

This is where it gets hazy.  We jumped into the 3pm corral, realized that there was NO method to the race madness and people of all paces were starting throughout the afternoon.  You would think that the faster runners would be in the beginning corrals and this was probably true for 1pm-2pm.  They just wanted to stick us Americans in the last bunch.  Thanks.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 7.29.35 PM

^^ not bad form and not my worst race picture (anyone else have odd/interesting race photos…working out isn’t always the most attractive)

Anyways, Meghan and I had to slowly weave our way through people, running around 8:30 pace for a solid 10 minutes.  I stuck with Meghan (who runs for her college) for about half of the race until she started to edge ahead.  Lucky for us, we finished about 20 seconds apart and both hit a personal best time with 1:39, which was our goal!


We were beyond lucky to finish so close together because we actually hadn’t set a contingency plan if we got separated.  I thought about asking someone for help finding my sister who was blonde and wearing a black shirt.  Good idea Kaitlin when EVERYONE is blonde and about 50% are wearing black.

Anyways, I was proud of myself for running the race, running without headphones, sticking it out through the pain, and experiencing something amazing with my sister.  Boy, we have come a long way from when we both started running (remember that time I left you at the track because I was mad that you were fast?  I’m such a good sister) 😉

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 7.29.08 PM“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart” – Bill Bowerman


13 thoughts on “A Race for the Ages ~ Göteborgsvarvet 21k

  1. So glad you had such an awesome time – although yea, that corral setup definitely sounds like Europe to me. Remember when I told you that in college when we rowed, the point wasn’t to out-row the other boats but to smash into them 🙂

  2. I’M SO JEALOUS YOU RACED IN SWEDEN! I’ve been joking with my family friends (who are Swedish) that I want to come run the Stockholm marathon because it is just an absolutely incredible place to run! What a fabulous race and congrats on running a European race! : )

  3. SO COOL!! And what a better place to PR than in Sweden? Oh man that is amazing and I want to hear alllllll about this in person. I think I would struggle with that time for a race start but hey, maybe it worked better for you! Clearly it didn’t go badly with a time like that!

  4. Pingback: The Blondes Abroad ~ Sweden Travels | California Endless Summer

  5. Pingback: Life of Late ~ 10.9.15 | California Endless Summer

  6. Pingback: Living that Running Life ~ NYC Marathon 2015 | California Endless Summer

  7. Pingback: Looking Back at 2015 | California Endless Summer

  8. Pingback: It’s Went Down at Phoenix | California Endless Summer

  9. Pingback: Bearly Functional | California Endless Summer

  10. Pingback: Take Me Down Ocean Avenue: Brooklyn Half Recap | California Endless Summer

What's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s