News The Tromso Midnight Sun Marathon and Half Marathon The Tromso Midnight Sun Marathon and Half Marathon


Report by Peter Heath
2018-06-27 15:54:21

The Tromso Midnight Sun Marathon and Half Marathon

Our story began last summer with one of those tiny page filler snippets that magazine editors use to finish off a page. This one was entitled “4 Marathons to do”, and listed 4 marathons (not surprisingly) that the writer felt worthy of attention. Two were so memorable that I’ve forgotten them. One was a Kenyan Marathon where the tail runner is a group of army soldiers, armed with the task of protecting any stragglers from the attentions of the native wild animals. I had no desire to end up as a mid morning “salted long pig” snack for a hungry african big cat. This left one race – the Midnight Sun Marathon, held in Tromso, Northern Norway (I thought all Norway was north, you live and learn). “You should go and do that” – said she who must be obeyed. “I just might!” I replied. And so proceedings commenced.

Tromso has hosted the Midnight Sun Marathon since 1990. It is the most northerly marathon on the calendar. Tromso is not the most northerly major town, however, coming in third after Murmansk (which I’d heard of) and Norilsk (which I hadn’t). Both of these are on the Arctic sea coast in Russia, not the most likely tourist venue, given the Russian’s reluctance to accept hordes of fun loving westerners into it’s environs (World Cup excepted of course). So for now at least Tromso is the place if you want to run a marathon close to one of the earth’s poles.

I put a Facebook message out asking for any interest in a trip, fully expecting to be met with hoots of derision and a suggestion that I may have at least one – if not many, screws loose. I was amazed that in a very short space of time we had a group of 10 lined up. Hotel rooms were found and Sergeant Major Clarke was entrusted with the task of organising flights.

More TRAC’ies followed the initial 10 into the party, and we ended up 19 strong. 14 Marathoner’s 3 Half Marathoner’s and 2 non running partners who fancied the trip.

So, fast forward to Friday 15th June and 19 nervous TRAC’ies set off for Gatwick at silly o clock in the morning.

Our route to Tromso was to be via Oslo, as direct flights are few and far between. With the flight time and inevitable gap between flights at Oslo it was early evening by the time we were disgorged into the Tromso Terminal. The Airport/City Centre bus was typically Scandinavian, clean, functional, efficient and expensive!

Our hotel was just off the main street (it’s that kind of town, there is only really one main street) so we were soon ensconced and ready to explore Tromso Central! We hadn’t booked a meal for the Friday and the place was busy (not surprising given the amount of visitors) so we found ourselves in a pretty low key pizza place, which served our desire to carb load adequately.  As well as being the cultural and administrative centre or Northern Norway, Tromso also possesses the worlds most northerly brewery “MACK”, which also has it’s own pub in the town. The Aleophiles (greek for beer lovers – honest), messrs Gough, Foster, Ashmore and Forshaw soon found the place, and being the dedicated athletes that they are, were soon supplementing their carb intake with some eye wateringly expensive Nordic Ale (£17 a half litre for some of the specials!!) Here’s one of the locals.


Fatigue took over fairly early on the Friday night and we retired to bed at a sensible hour.

Both the Marathon and Half Marathon are run in the evening to take advantage of the unusual opportunity of completing a night time race in daylight. This poses the unusual problem about how to manage the day of the race so that one arrives at the start line (8.30pm for the marathon) in peak condition. After all, those world records won’t get broken without preparation.

What better way to prepare both physically and psychologically for the challenge ahead than a walk on to the bridge linking Tromsoisland to the mainland, which forms part of the course. The weather on Saturday morning was bleak and very windy. The wind at the apex of the bridge was almost too much to walk through – Mark Ashmore has a video of this – looking like a Bear Grylls documentary for anyone who really needs to see what it was like.


Unfortunately the midnight sun wasn’t there on race day this year. The conditions were cool, damp and cloudy when the Marathon began at 8.30pm, and remained that way for the rest of the night. It was however a surreal experience running late into the night in daylight, although some of our competitors commented that it felt like running on a typical cloudy bank holiday weekend at home. The route was mainly flat staying close to the water front with the snow-capped mountains in the distance, with the exception of the iconic “Tromso” bridge, that the marathon runners had to tackle after a mile or so, and then again just before the half way stage. Well we survived that particular challenge and went off for some more carb loading at a very nice restaurant that had been booked by Debbie Hatt, one of our social secretaries.

The afternoon was largely spent (in my case anyway) sleeping, as I figured I needed all the help I could get.

We all met up in the hotel lobby at about 7.45 and walked down to the start, which was only a few minute walk down the main street. Thankfully the blowy conditions had subsided a bit, however it didn’t look like there was going to be much chance of Midnight sun on the run. 8.30 at night felt like 8.30 in the morning. We had a group picture before the race.

Pauline had a pic taken with two of the surviving members of A-Ha, surely Norway’s greatest pop band (maybe their only pop band).


Then we were off!!

What can I say about the race!!

It was cool, blustery, relatively flat (apart from the bridge of doom),

a bit grim on the second half which took us from the town round the edge of the island to the end of the airport runway. We mostly ran our own races, with some notable exceptions. Jo Holl – up for cracking her pb, was paced round the first half of the race by Nikki Boyes, and dragged along (her words guv, nothing to do with me) through the second half by Claire who was whizzing round the half.



Steve Clarke shepherded Pauline Pettit round and ensured that she got a massive PB. Mark Foster, in his 100 and something Marathon guided Mark “out of retirement and never again” Ashmore round and stopped him from veering off into any unsuspecting pubs on the route.  Molly Rattenbury, at the other end of the experience scale completed her first ever marathon – what a way to start your career in overpriced torture!! Chris Brenchley decided that even though it was a Midnight Sun Marathon there was no way his race was going to span 2 days, finishing at the ridiculously early time of 11.37pm. Everyone seemed to have a good race and we were all happy with our times and performances. For the Strava statistics enthusiasts amongst you (if anyone is still reading at this stage) I’ve listed the complete set of TRAC results at the end of this short article.

Our post race celebration plans were somewhat curtailed by a mixture of busy pubs, fatigue, and the hotel bar shutting at 2am (lightweights) so a group of us ended up having an impromptu party in the hotel ironing room, before we decided to call it a morning and went to bed.

The beauty of a Saturday race is that you get Sunday to recuperate, and/or become occasional tourists. With 24 hour daylight you can pack a lot in too!!

Our fist stop on the Sunday was the prizegiving ceremony where Chris Brenchley collected his reward for coming First in his age category, and a very impressive 17th overall.

Our post race celebratory meal was pre booked at a harbour front restaurant called “Steakers”. No prize for guessing what was featured prominently on the menu, so vegetarians should look away now!


Suitably refuelled it was decided that we should visit the cable car on the mainland as it looked like offering the best views of the town. So once again, gluttons for punishment, we trundled across the bridge, typically calm and warm after the windy conditions that we’d had on race night.

The Cable car again was suitably Scandinavian, clean, efficient and bl**dy expensive, at £20 a return trip. There was also a path up, which certain masochists in the party decided was a better option than spending beer vouchers, and off they trotted. The rest of us took the considerably quicker if pricier route up to the café/bar/viewing gallery at the top.


It had to be said the views up there were tremendous. Ice cream, muffins, beer, coffee and all other manner of nutritiously inept goodies were consumed before we trundled back down and over the bridge once again to Tromsoisland.

The rest of the day was spent in a soporific alcoholic haze, beers were drunk, aches and pains were compared, and eventually, after waiting in vain for it to get dark we decided to call it a day and head for bed.

Monday morning saw us bid farewell to Tromso and begin the fairly long trek home. Everyone agreed that it had been one of the best TRAC excursions to date.

The full results are as follows


1: Chris Brenchley, 17th overall, 1st in age category            3hrs 7mins

2: Pete Gough, 126th overall, 14th in age category               3hrs 33mins

3: Jo Hill, 267th overall, 4thin age category                         3hrs 51 mins

4: Nikki Boyes, 306th overall, 5thin age category                 3hrs 54 mins

5: Steve Forshaw, 503rd overall,  57thin age category          4hrs 12mins

6: Debbie Hatt, 533rd overall, 22ndin age category              4hrs 15mins

7: Pete Heath, 545th overall, 14thin age category                 4hrs 17mins

8: Pauline Pettit, 648th overall, 10thin age category             4hrs 31mins

9: Steve Clarke, 788th overall, 30thin age category              4hrs 35mins

10:MollyRattenbury, 846th overall, 92ndin age category       4hrs 59mins

11:SarahHarmes, 875th overall, 41stin age category             5hrs 6mins

12:Karen Daniels, 876th overall, 21stin age category           5hrs 6mins

13:Mark Ashmore, 891st overall, 85thin age category          5hrs 10mins

14:Mark Foster, 892nd overall, 43rdin age category             5hrs 10mins



1: Claire Greenaway, 449th overall, 58thin age category       1hr 51mins

2: Ad Neaves, 612nd overall, 46thin age category                1hr 57mins

3: Jon Holl, 613rd overall, 36thin age category                     1hr 57mins


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