A couple of years ago I traveled to Reykjavík to participate in Reykjavík marathon. I had never been to Iceland before and was pretty exited by visiting this amazing island.
The race was in August and later that year I had signed up to run the full marathon distance in Chicago. I was therefore only running the half marathon as part of my training, so I was not running for any personal records. I was also injured at the time, I thought I had inflammation of the leg tendons, but I later learned that I had bone fractures in both of my legs.
We were eight running buddies traveling together to Reykjavík the Friday before the race. After arriving we did some strolling around the city, picked up our race numbers at the EXPO and went to a local bar. In the evening we had dinner at our hotel, Radisson Blu Saga Hotel.
Next day it was race day – I love Saturday races – then I have time go sightseeing on Sunday (in slow motion).
Hallgrímskirkja – Reykjavík’s main landmark and its tower can be seen from almost everywhere in the city.
The view from Hallgrímskirkja
The race started and finished downtown within sight of the pond and the city hall. The location was great with our hotel within 5 to 10 minutes walking distance from the start of the race.
I decided to run together with a friend, she wanted to start in an easy pace and that was perfect for me – I had no rush. After 1K I started running a little bit faster and lost my friend (sorry!). It’s easy to get a too optimistic and eager in races when the crowd is encouraging and cheering….
The first part of the course was through a residential area where many of the inhabitants were out of their houses to cheer the runners on. This was followed by a section where we passed along the seaside and had excellent views of the ocean. At this point (12K) I started to long for the finish line even the view was amazing, but since the course turned and headed back at 16K, we started to meet runners on their way to the finish line. I could see the 20K mark so close, but so far away. The course was pretty flat except for a hill at 15 to 16K, I slowed down a bit here and I struggled to get back in the pace. In the last part of the race, we passed Höfdi House, a Reykjavik City Council reception venue where US President Ronald Reagan and USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev met for a summit in 1986. I’m not sure if I noticed this building – at this point I was only dreaming of relaxing at the Blue Lagoon.
At this race I tested to run with water bottles to save time at the refreshment stations – it’s hard to say if I saved any time, but I don’t think I lost any either (like I normally do). The last 2K was hard and my legs were killing me, – it felt great to cross the finish line. I finished in 1:59:30, only 30 seconds from my personal best…
Time for champagne!
After a quick shower at the hotel we were ready for the Blue Lagoon – one of Iceland’s most popular attractions and a great way to cure sore muscles. There were loaded with marathon runners in the geothermal spa this Saturday afternoon….
We celebrated in the evening with dinner at Grillmarkaðurinn – one of the best restaurants in town. Grillmarkaðurinn serves new style Icelandic Cuisine with Icelandic ingredients and traditional dishes with an extra, odd splash – the result is a very Icelandic, yet very international restaurant in magnificent surroundings. I loved this restaurant, the food was excellent, so was the atmosphere and service. I am definitely making dinner reservations at this restaurant next time I’m in Reykjavik.
All dressed up and ready to party….
Next day we explored more of the island – more about this in my next post.
Thank you for reading!