What you need to know about the Copenhagen Marathon

Over 13,000 runners will pound the asphalt in six different neighbourhoods in Copenhagen on Sunday as the city’s annual marathon takes place for the 40th time.

What you need to know about the Copenhagen Marathon
The Copenhagen Marathon in 2018. Photo: Camilla Hylleberg Photography/Sparta/Copenhagen Marathon

Starting on the harbourfront at Islands Brygge, the Telenor Copenhagen Marathon will crisscross for 42.2 kilometres (26.2 miles) through the streets of the Inner City, Vesterbro, Frederiksberg, Nørrebro and Østerbro.

They event begins at 9:30am on Sunday and will continue throughout the morning and early afternoon before exhausted runners eventually make it back to where they started, crossing the finishing line at Islands Brygge as months of training and dedication culminate in joy and relief.

Copenhagen first held a marathon in 1980, making this year’s event the 40th edition of the race. Over 13,000 people have registered to take part in 2019, making it the biggest Copenhagen Marathon ever.

What should I know if I’m running it?

If you’ve registered to take part in the marathon, you’re probably well-prepared, given that months of training is required to build up the fitness to get through 42.2 kilometres.

You will have received an email from Copenhagen Marathon with your registration card attached. This should be taken to the marathon expo at Sparta Hallen in Østerbro, where you will need it in order to pick up your race number, race bag and entry pack. A digital version of the confirmation is fine.

The expo is open (to everyone, not just runners) from Thursday at noon until 6pm, from noon-6pm on Friday, and from 10am-6pm on Saturday.

If you're feeling spontaneous (and are already at marathon-running fitness levels), you can also register for the marathon at the expo.

A number of other events, including a mini marathon, a teen run and a 'pasta party' for runners loading up on carbohydrates prior to the race are also taking part throughout the weekend. Further details can be found on the Copenhagen Marathon website or app.

On the day itself, public transport is recommended to get to the start area, as parking will be limited and a number of roads will be closed to traffic (see below).

The Dybbølsbro/Fisketorvet S-train station and Islands Brygge Metro station are within a 15-minute walk of the start and finish area and will not be affected by route changes.

What if I want to watch?

Copenhageners are usually great at turning out to create an energetic atmosphere along the course, which can be a huge help and source of motivation for flagging runners.

There are several spots where live music and entertainment will pump the atmosphere and where good crowds are likely. These include Islands Brygge, Todboldgade near Amalienborg Palace, the Langelinie Bridge, Fælledparken, under the Bispeengbuen motorway flyover, Frederiksberg Alle, and at Halmtorvet near the Meatpacking District.

These aside, there are usually spectators along almost all of the route, so if you are in Copenhagen, there is likely to be a good spot close by.

Click here for an interactive and here for a full version of the marathon route map on the Copenhagen Marathon website.

A marathon traffic notice in central Copenhagen on May 16th. Photo: The Local

Will my street be closed?

All streets along the route will be closed to traffic from 7am to 4:30pm on Sunday (from 9am-1pm in Frederiksberg) and some diversions will be in place, but it will be possible to get in and out of the city throughout the day.

Pedestrians and cyclists will be allowed to cross the route when there are no runners, but are asked to follow the instructions of race officials and show consideration for approaching marathoners.

If you are driving in the city centre in the morning, avoid the stretch along H. C. Andersens Boulevard from Langebro to Jarmers Plads – this will be closed in both directions between 9 and 10am.

Parking will also not be permitted in many places, so keep an eye out for information signs. You can see a full map of the marathon route here.

Although the Metro and S-train networks will be unaffected, some bus routes will be diverted. You can check your planned journey using the Rejseplanen website and app.

What’s the weather going to be like?

Good question. The weather this month has been unpredictable, and it could be cool and damp or sunny and warm on Sunday. Anything not too hot or windy will be welcomed by the runners, and a deluge like the one which fell during the city's 2017 half marathon is fortunately not forecast.

According to the latest information from meteorological agency DMI, cloudy skies and temperatures between 12-19 degrees Celsius can be expected during the hours of the race, perhaps with some sun breaking through.

Look out for…

A competitive field of elite runners from Kenya and Ethiopia was recently confirmed by organisers, who are hoping for new records for the fastest-ever marathons on Danish soil in both the men’s and women’s fields.

Alex Chepkwik Saekwo, Abraham Kasongwor and defending champion and current race record holder William Nyarondia Morwabe will run in the men’s field; and Kellen Waithira, Sylvia Kiberenge and Bekelu Beji Geletu amongst the women. Watch out for the astonishing speed and technique of the professional runners at the front of the race.

A long, long way back from these elite athletes, The Local Denmark editor Michael Barrett will be one of the 13,000 runners taking part on Sunday. He’ll be wearing a green singlet (subject to weather conditions) and his race number is 9699. Give him a shout of encouragement! He’ll probably need it.

READ MORE: IN PICTURES: 2018 Copenhagen Marathon

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Danish running events take tentative steps towards cutting out plastic

Balloons and water cups are among areas in which organizers of Danish running events say they want to cut down on plastics use.

Danish running events take tentative steps towards cutting out plastic
People line up for a half marathon in Copenhagen in 2015. File photo: Nikolai Linares / Ritzau Scanpix

The organizers of the Aarhus City Half Marathon recently announced they had changed plans to release thousands of balloons prior to this Sunday’s running event.

The decision marks a public recognition by organizers that high-participation sports events like marathons and half marathons can have a negative environmental impact, and that a change in approach is necessary to offset this.

In a country in which the environment was a major priority for voters in the recent general election, it has been necessary for endurance running events, at which thousands of plastic cups are used, to consider their approach.

“We want to lead the way when it comes to more environmentally friendly running events,” Birgit Schultz, head of communication for Aarhus Motion, which organizes the city’s half marathon as well its DHL Relay team running event, told The Local via email.

Chloe Malinka, a marine scientist at Aarhus University, welcomed the decision to drop balloons from the Aarhus City Half Marathon.

“Plastic balloons cannot fully break down in the environment, and these microplastics end up lodged in the stomachs of animals, contaminating our waterways, and infiltrating our food chain,” Malinka told The Local.

Malinka pointed out that two Danish municipalities, Fanø and Varde, have banned the release of balloons from municipal institutions, as Danish media Ingeniøren reported last year. A sizeable number of local authorities in the United Kingdom have taken a similar step, as have four US states, according to that report.

Copenhagen Marathon did release balloons at its 2019 edition, but as a one-off occurrence, said Dorte Vibjerg, director of race organizer Sparta.

“It was one time only, and only because of our 40th anniversary,” Vibjerg told The Local via email. The balloons released at the marathon were biodegradable, she added.

But Malinka said balloons categorized as biodegradable also presented a hazard for wildlife.

“The degradation of these biodegradable balloons only occurs under specific composting circumstances. This degradation is also a slow process, whereby the balloons have the opportunity to be mistaken for food by seabirds, seals, and whales and the balloons end up clogging the stomachs of animals, all before they have the time to degrade,” she said.

In a press statement earlier this month, Aarhus Motion confirmed it would not release balloons while also acknowledging it faces other challenges in order to reduce its overall environmental footprint.

“We can’t change everything at once, so we have decided to look at certain areas in which we can reduce plastic use. That will include removing (plastic) water bags from water stations and instead donating the 25,000 kroner we normally pay for the bags to Danish environment organization Plastic Change,” event manager Jeanette Bøye Sørensen said in the statement.

Finishers’ t-shirts for this year’s half marathon will also be supplied without plastic wrapping.

The Aarhus event, which expects 11,500 to 12,000 runners to participate on Sunday, uses card for half of its drinks cups and a chalk-plastic compound for the other half, Schultz said.

“All the cardboard from the packaging and all the plastic bottles will be recycled,” she said.

Approximately 180,000 plastic cups were used during the 2019 Telenor Copenhagen Marathon, organizer Sparta confirmed to The Local.

The event is working on a way of improving the material used for cups at the event’s drinks stations, Vibjerg said.

“We already cooperate with the InnovationLab of Sports and Copenhagen Municipality about different solutions, (including) new cups made of biodegradable material. But the cups have to work, and we haven't found the right product yet,” she said.

Sparta will test new products at the DHL Relay events it organizes later this year with a view to rolling them out to its other events, the Sparta director said.

“We are looking for more green solutions on everything from medals to t-shirts — maybe they don't have to be mandatory,” she added.

READ MORE: In pictures: Temperatures soar as 13,000 run 2019 Copenhagen Marathon