2013 Midnight Sun Run Half Marathon: Race Recap

Last week I had the special opportunity to run a half marathon in ICELAND!!  We were there for a hiking/belated honeymoon trip and were planning a few days in the capitol (Reykjavik) after the trip.  While looking for things to do in the capitol, I came across running tours where you could run with a group around the city and the island to see it from a different perspective.  I thought this sounded fun but the more I searched I also found a Midnight Sun Run that fell on the Monday night we were going to be in the city.  I asked the hubs if he was interested and he said sure so I signed us both up for the half only 1 1/2 weeks out from the race. 🙂

Now onto the race goodies.  Right before leaving the US, I looked up where the race was starting in relation to our hotel and found that it was only 3 blocks away! Awesome luck on that one!  We walked around the Botanical Gardens prior to the packet pickup and boy was it the simplest of packet pick ups.  We lined up in the  prepaid area and when the girl asked for our names (which she initially did in Icelandic) she found us on the computer and just picked up a number for the half (they also had a 5k and 10k that night) that had a stamp of the medal on it.

midnight sun run packet contents

midnight sun run packet contents 2Race packet – number, information about the chip (in Icelandic and English) and a Powerade listing of other races in Iceland this summer

The race was set to start at 9:20 pm and the hubs and I were really unsure of what the weather was going to be as it was quite windy when we picked up the packet and we were pretty chilly. So we checked out the weather forecast and it was predicting mid to low 50s with wind.  We both decided one layer wasn’t quite enough and did two light layers. I forgot to bring any long sleeved layers so instead I threw on my lightweight wool layer (IceBreaker) over my short sleeved shirt.

rr midnight sun run 1 rr midnight sun run 2As we were headed out of the hotel we ran into another American who was also headed to the race as well.  Once we got to the start area both of us were surprised to see nearly everyone was running around warming up.  I’m used to seeing SOME people warm up with lots of running around but it seemed that nearly EVERYONE was warming up this way which was a little different than races I’ve been to in the states.  We instead did a little jumping around to stay warm and got a quick picture as well.

rr midnight sun run 3Shortly after the picture we saw that it was getting close to starting so we headed to the official start area and ran into a dilemma.  They had pace signs up for where to start and well just look below and you’ll see why we were confused.

rr midnight sun run 4The pace signs were in kilometers per minute!  Now neither of us wanted to calculate how this correlated to miles per minute and just stood towards the back.  We decided to go with a 2/1 (run/walk) due to the colder weather.  Both of us were a little unsure as to how we would do as we had just finished a 9 day hiking tour through the country and hadn’t done any running for the two weeks leading up to the race.

We were off shortly after lining up and moving at a nice steady pace.  As we were running the markers were all kilometers so they seemed to be coming really fast.  Of course, this is compared to mile markers we are used to.  The race started through a residential neighborhood until about kilometer 3 where we ran through a tunnel and then along a park with rivers and waterfalls and a couple lakes til kilometer 19.

rr midnight sun run 5One of the many waterfalls/streams we ran by.

The course was HILLY.  This is where I’m a little annoyed that my Garmin didn’t record the elevation as I was really curious as to how big some of those hills were.  True to the race’s name the sun did make an appearance.

rr midnight sun run 6That was one of the oddest things about the race being that at nearly midnight it was still light out and the sun was visible (if even just behind the clouds).  Definitely a once in a lifetime chance (for me) to run in a race at night where the sun never sets.

There were no fans on the course. I mean literally no fans. But it was all good as they had a ton of volunteers making sure you turned where necessary and holding off cars at the few intersections we passed.  They would cheer us on (in Icelandic) so I’m not quite sure what they were exactly saying – Good job versus Keep going vs who knows what. 😀  I did manage to see a few signs at the intersections and made a point of getting a picture of it as I have no clue what it says.

rr midnight sun run 7The ladies at this intersection did get a good chuckle when I stopped to take the picture and said I liked the sign but didn’t understand it.

Around kilometer 18 I was starting to struggle with the 2/1 but told the hubs I was going to stick with it but needed to slow down a little on the uphills.  The last 3 kilometers were definitely tough but I was happy to finish sticking with the 2/1 all the way.  We ended up coming in at 2:34:34 with me being only 40 seconds off my PR. 🙂  We both got medals (which we had to pay extra for).

rr midnight sun run 9

Our medal next to a 100 krona coin for a size comparison.  The 100 krona is similar a quarter in the US.

We came in just before midnight and unfortunately it was a little too late to use the geothermal pool that gave free entry to all race participants but we were both so exhausted that we just headed back to the hotel and it was still light as day out.

rr midnight sun run 8Overall we both really enjoyed the race and I couldn’t believe how fast it went by.  The course was primarily on trails throughout the city with a few streets and sidewalks near the start and finish areas.  The HILLS were tough but our hiking trip must have paid off some as they weren’t so bad I needed to walk them.  It was fun and different to be running a race near midnight with it being soo bright out but definitely cool.  This was also my first international race so I wasn’t sure what to expect but was very pleased with the race and organization.  Running kilometers instead of miles was fun as the numbers came faster (so to speak) and that was a nice mental boost. I’d definitely recommend this race for anyone who just so happens to be in Iceland (late June) when this race is run. 😀 Gallery coming tomorrow.



  1. Thanks for the review, I have sometimes thought of running this race but not being a night owl I’d have the whole running at night thing. Also have never heard of having to pay for a medal before, interesting!

    • It’s a nice race if you can stay up a little more for a night. The fact it never got dark helped me. 🙂 And the medal cost was definitely different. Hope it doesn’t catch on.

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