Young and old ran through the streets of Oslo on Sunday and by the time it was all over, more than 16,000 runners had taken part in this year’s Oslo Marathon. That was enough to set a new record.
The marathon was competing against the Berlin Marathon, which also had been scheduled for Sunday, so there weren’t a lot of big-name stars or professional runners who had made their way to Oslo. Instead the Oslo event was more like the “people’s party” the organizers had in mind.
Events had started on Saturday and included everything from a 500-meter race for children, to a special race in honour of the late Norwegian marathon star Grete Waitz, to the full- and half-marathons on Sunday. The last participant crossed the line around 6pm on Sunday after what can best be described as a street party for long-distance runners.
While Patrick Makau of Kenya ran his way to a new world record in Berlin, finishing the tough 42-kilometer (26 mile) course in two hours, three minutes and 38 seconds, the runners in Oslo were admittedly in another league.
The winner of the Oslo Marathon was Andreas Myhre Sjurseth of the Konnerud Club outside Drammen. He completed the course in two hours, 27 minutes and 28 seconds, a personal record for himself but well behind the times clocked by those who compete in the Olympics or world championships.
Sjurseth’s steady speed and endurance allowed him to be the first of all the thousands taking part to cross the finish line at Oslo’s historic Akershus Fortress and it made him the Norwegian marathon champion. He told newspaper Aftenposten, though, that he has no ambitions of qualifying to run at next year’s Olympics in London.
“No, that’s too difficult,” he told Aftenposten. “To get there I’d need to run under two hours and 15 minutes. There’s an incredible difference between me and those at the top in the world.”
Still, the 26-year-old Sjurseth who moved to a small town in Denmark where he can work as a physiotherapist and run on snow- and ice-free streets year-round, seemed pleased with his performance. It was only his fourth marathon but his fourth personal record.
Marthe Katrine Myhre was the first woman to cross the finish line, running the marathon in two hours, 52 minutes and 30 seconds. Myhre is a former cross-country skier on the national team who raced in the World Cup at Holmenkollen. She thought the festive atmosphere as she ran through the crowds assembled at Aker Brygge along Oslo’s waterfront resembled the cheering crowds at Holmenkollen.
“You get an extra kick when there’s so many people standing there and cheering,” she told Aftenposten.
She had hoped her new shoes would speed her along even quicker than she managed but was satisfied with her victory. She also thinks she probably could beat skiing champions Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug in a marathon, if not on ski trails.
“Yes, in a marathon I’d probably win,” Myhre said. “I’ll have to invite them next year.”
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