Göteborgsvarvet is probably the largest half marathon in the world, with about 60 000 registered participants and almost 50 000 runners. It happens every May in Gothenburg and it’s magic.
Magic? Yes! Those not running go to the streets to watch, support and enjoy themselves and the entire city stops to celebrate. It is like a big party. I may seem guilty as I love running, but I have ran races in many different countries and nothing compares to Göteborgsvarvet and its superb atmosphere. I ran it a couple of times before I moved to Sweden and now I participate every year.
Why should I register?
If a great atmosphere is not enough to convince you there are other reasons. If you are already a runner this is a great way to get extra motivation. I usually have a low period during the winter, in which I run less because it’s cold and I’m not used to it. Having a race booked in May makes me start the new year with less fear of the winter, layer up and hit the streets. It’s a great way to fight the winter blues and you will find out you are not the only one training out there.
Half marathon is too much?
Half marathon is 21 Km and that’s really a lot, but no worries. Göteborgsvarvet has races to all kinds of levels and ages. The week before the half marathon is full of events, like Lilla Varvet, Minivarvet and Cityvarvet, for children and teenagers. There’s also Trailvarvet, 8 Km, for those who prefer a shorter race. In the months anticipating the big day there are seeding 10 Km races all over Sweden.
Half Marathon is too little?
Then you will have to wait until 2021, when Gothenburg celebrates 400 years and the Varvet will become a Marathon. One can actually already register for it. Who would do that? Me, of course. Registered since 2015.
Isn’t 50 000 people too many? It must be a super crowded race!
No, it’s not. I find this race one of the most organised I’ve been to, otherwise it would be nearly impossible to run. There are over 20 start groups, the first one starting at 1pm and the last one at 4pm (or later). People are assigned to a start group according to their estimated finish time, letting the fast cheetahs go first and people who plan to walk most of the way to the end. You are never alone when you run, but one doesn’t feel crowded or even worse, trapped or run over. Besides that, those around you should have a similar rhythm to yours making you feel safe and like one of the team. There’s exceptions, of course, as some people might have given a wrong estimated time or start in the wrong group, but in general it works really well.
When, where and how can I sign up?
Registration for 2018 is now open. Participants can register online through the official website, which has all the necessary information about registration, courses, program and much more. The faster you do it the better, because the entry fees increase and it can become quite expensive.
I’m interested but I’m not sure I’m ready…
Sometimes plans change or training doesn’t go as well as planned and registered participants can sell their entries in the months preceding the race. If you are not sure you will be able to participate, you can always decide later and hope to get one of those tickets. If you don’t get it you can also wait for the year after. However, I know you can do it, and whether you are fast or slow it doesn’t matter, because what’s great is to be there, feel the atmosphere and celebrate.
And for the non-runners is there anything?
Yes, the Göteborgsvarvet Expo! This is where participants pick up their racing bibs, but also where many different sport brands show off their products and sell them at discounted prices. Besides that there’s lectures, demonstrations of other sports and challenges where one can win prizes. Last year, I even met and talked to Charlotte Kalla, the great Swedish skier!
Göteborgsvarvet is not the largest race simply for its 50 000 runners. It is also for its amazing supporters. On race day you can do like many thousands of people and support the “crazy” runners. Gather your friends/family, bring a picnic, write a funny sign and sit down on the side of the racing course. Then cheer and enjoy it all!
The spirit of the Göteborgsvarvet will eventually catch you and make you a Varvet addicted! Just like me!