I can now say that I’m officially a world-class athlete: I was the first American finisher in a race abroad.
I admit it’s a stretch of the definition, but here’s why: Back in June, I was the first American finisher in the Miđnæturhlaup. That’s a 10K race in Reykjavik, Iceland, that starts at 10 p.m. The word means “Midnight Run.”
My time was less-than-spectacular at just a touch more than 54 minutes. I guess the previous 10 days of stomping around Iceland with a backpack and logging an average of six miles a day took their toll on my legs.
But still! I owe it all to the fact that:
- There were few Americans. My wife and I might’ve been the only Americans racing. I checked the results carefully and came up blank.
- The race was too short for my wife to warm up. I can usually take her in a 10K, but I am no match in a half-marathon. Had this race been another two miles longer, she would’ve just been stretching into full power and would’ve blown past me like she was on roller skates. Yay, short races!
This is one of the coolest things I’ve done while traveling abroad. The course included two three-mile loops that took us past a sports complex, the Reykjavik Zoo and a botanical area. It was incredibly pleasant, with a perfect running temperature.
It was also a great way to mingle with Icelanders and other Europeans – including a wonderfully friendly (and fast!) couple from England. They were kind enough to say that us being from Arizona actually sounds “glamourous.” And yes, they used the extra u!
The race also started and ended at the Laugardalslaug swimming pool Sarah and I came to love so much on our first day. So it was back into the hot tubs to hang with the other racers.
And I now have a shiny medal with some really cool Icelandic characters on it hanging in the dining room.
I should also add that our entry into the race is a testament to the innate friendliness of Icelanders. Sarah wanted to find us a race, so she got on the Web to find us one. Few sites were in English, so she took a shot in the dark at e-mailing a running club. A club member by the name of Torfi wrote her back and helped us find the Midnight Run and get all registered. He also gave us some travel tips.