6. Stockholm Marathon
Stockholm is an unusual marathon. It challenges your preconceptions both of Scandinavia and of marathon running. It starts at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon in early June, when the weather is warm and balmy and the city is full of loud, boisterous crowds. By the standards of London or New York, it’s a small race, but it doesn’t lack atmosphere – with healthy crowds throughout much of the two-lap, city-centre course. The race is designed to highlight the city’s wonderful location on the shores of the Baltic, and to demonstrate the friendliness and efficiency of the Swedes. It’s not a particularly fast race, but Stockholm in June is a big consolation.The course: Two almost-identical loops, starting outside the 1912 Olympic Stadium and finishing on the track inside. There are large, flat sections of the course but enough undulations, particularly on the loop around Djurgarden and the various bridges, to break your rhythm.
Highs: Finishing on the track inside the 1912 Olympic Stadium.
Lows: Passing the kilometre markers on the first lap, knowing you have to run 21km before you see them again.
Watch out for: The crossing of the Vesterbron at 35km. The bridge is only a 90ft climb, but it feels worse the second time around.
Contact: Stockholm Marathon, Stockholm Marathon, Box 10023, 100 55 Stockholm, Sweden; tel 0046 8545 664 40; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org