Copenhagen offers a truly fast and unique half marathon

A royal capital with almost nine centuries under its svelte belt, Copenhagen is equally well versed when it comes to inspiring museums and storybook streetscapes. Its cobbled, bike-friendly streets are hyggelig (the Danish word for cosy) and coupled with its compact size you have what is possibly Europe's most seamless urban experience.

As you’d imagine, all this naturally lends itself to a major city road race. With a population of just 1.2 million, it’s incredible to think that there were nearly a quarter of million people on the streets when the Copenhagen Half Marathon took place in 2014. So with a party-like atmosphere, the race certainly stands out.

The Danish Athletic Federation and Sparta Athletics & Running, joint race organisers, are very pleased with the recognition the European Athletics Running for All certification provides. Being certified as a 5-star race puts it on a par with many other quality road races in Europe, something which is seen as a great honour by Competition Director Lene Pedersen.  

“When we were chosen to host the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen last year we committed to organising a world class race. We strived to organise the best race possible both technically but also in terms of providing great facilities, service, promotion, spectator support and of course safety.

The Copenhagen Half Marathon has subsequently been awarded the prestigious IAAF Road Race Bronze Label, the first Nordic race to receive this stamp of approval. It is easy to see why.

The 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships were a real success story for Danish Athletics and running in Denmark. More people started running, training and joining the running clubs. The fact that mass participants were able to join the elite athletes in the very same race was a huge game changer. The 30,000 capacity race was sold out after only two days, a whole one and a half years before the race! There was a real hype in the years leading up to the event and most runners thought it was the best race ever held in Denmark.

“The experience we gained from organising the championships has been passed on and we have tried to use this to improve further, ahead of this year’s Copenhagen Half Marathon. We have tried to make the course even faster, whilst still going through central Copenhagen. We have expanded the race village and spectator programme and we have committed to delivering the same grand TV-production as for last year’s Championships.”

According to Pedersen, international runners should participate in the Copenhagen Half Marathon in 2015, or at a later stage, because you’re getting a quality race in a fantastic city.

“The course is extremely fast and therefore perfect for setting personal records. The course takes runners through the most popular areas of Copenhagen, not just the touristy parts of the city but also the cool and urban areas where the Copenhageners love to hang out. In 2014, 200,000 spectators were cheering the runners along, creating a fantastic vibe all over the city.”

So post-race, what does Copenhagen have to offer? Well it is an incredibly green city, surrounded by water clean enough to swim in. If the weather’s good, locals and tourists alike will often select a spot waterside and simply enjoy life.

For those who still have a little life in their legs, the city has a lot to offer both on foot or via a boat tour, which are reasonably priced and depart every 15 minutes from the picture perfect Nyhavn, or new harbour as it translates. The harbour boasts stunning buildings and sailing yachts aplenty, as well as being home to Hans Christian Andersen, the famous Danish 19th Century children’s writer.

Football may be the national sport in Denmark, but running is on the up, as Pedersen explains:

“The number of road races per year is growing rapidly all over Europe and in Denmark as well. It is the responsibility of the national federation together with European Athletics to determine the standards of road races, to ensure that safety and quality is prioritised when organisers are granted the right to host an event by the national authorities.

“Over the next few years we hope to go from strength to strength, and we’re working towards achieving the IAAF Gold Label, which has only been granted to five half marathons in Europe.”

As for European Athletics Running for All:

“It’s a great tool for runners all over the world to select their next 5-star road race in Europe.”

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