Reykjavik is the northernmost capital of the world located in Iceland, a country of pristine beauty where puffin birds outnumber humans 30 to 1. This city is probably the closest one could get to the North Pole, so a marathon here is a must for marathon maniacs. The country is now also part of pop culture, thanks to its breathtaking landscape used to film HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Richard and I took the WOW Air flight at 12:25 PM from Brussels Zaventem International Airport on August 18, 2017, arriving three and a half hours later at Keflavik International Airport at 1:50 PM. Airport transfer to and from the capital is easier with buses. We took the Airport Express bus to its terminal in the city. We transferred to smaller buses and dropped off in front of our hotel, Fosshotel Reykjavik. Round trip fare is 9,800 Icelandic króna (ISK) for both. Exchange rate was 106 ISK to the US dollar or 127 ISK to the euro. The trip to the city took about 40 minutes.
The area around the road from the airport was bare. There were some lava rocks that lined part of the route. There was not much to see until we actually got to the city proper.
The city proper made up for the initial visual impression with an explosion of color and art on its buildings and houses.
Normal check-in time for hotels here is 4:00 PM. Reykjavik is also two hours behind Brussels. We had time to go to the neighborhood grocery store to stock up on essentials before we got into our room. By essentials, I mean the must-have chips, breads, and drinks, all the forbidden foods for the diet conscious. Hmmm. . . yes, I really need to be more disciplined with the food I eat!
After resting a bit, we took off for the Laugardalshöll Sports Hall to get my bib. The sports expo remained open until 7:00 PM.
The expo had several exhibitors giving away samples and providing taste tests.
We stopped to watch a group of envy-inducing super fit Icelandic beauties do an exercise demo for a fitness apparel company. Okay, no more chips for me and more exercise!
The event poster was set up for our pre-race photo.
Advanced registration for the marathon was 9,700 ISK and included the race shirt.
We did a little bit of sight seeing around the area. The first stop was The Sun Voyager sculpture. Built in 1990 and inspired by a Viking ship, it served as the symbol of the 200th anniversary of the city.
We also visited the Hallgrimskirkja Church, the biggest church in the country. A concert series was in progress when we visited.
The other sites worth seeing are located outside the capital, and should be well worth the trip for those who has the time to do so.
Dinner was quick and easy at one of the Thai restaurants on Laugavegur, the city’s main street.
Race day on Saturday dawned bright, early, and cold.
We dressed quickly to have breakfast first. There were a lot of breakfast items to choose from.
The race started and finished in Laekjagarta, a walkable few meters away from our hotel.
We had our photo taken in front of the Prime Minister’s office.
The marathon started at 8:40 AM with a six-hour time limit. People were having champagne viewing parties watching runners. I did not stop to ask for champagne but I think they would have given me a sip if I asked!
The aid stations were fully stocked with water, sports drinks, chocolate wafers, and bananas.
I also got to see the famous Eddie Vega, also known as Barefoot Bandito who was running with his wife. He holds the Guinness World Record with the most number of barefoot marathons in a year. I first met him when we ran the Firecracker Triple in Oregon in the US in 2014 and met again during the Dublin marathon last year.
There were several entertainment spots along the way.
Richard was waiting for me when I ran by the hotel.
There were lots to see and keep runners occupied. We passed Ellioadalur, a famous salmon fishing river home to 60 species of birds, the behemoth Harpa Concert Hall, the Sun Voyager sculpture again, and the Reykjavik city from a distance.
Of course the best view is the finish line as I gratefully completed a great marathon.
The main street was a beehive of action. A band was playing some live music while walking in the middle of the street. Another group was giving free hugs. People were milling and walking around.
We found a museum dedicated to a man’s private parts, and exotic cuisine.
I rested for an hour or so before hunger demanded satiation. We went for a quick dinner at one of the main street restaurants.
Up at 2:15 AM to make our 3:00 AM bus pick-up time, we flew back to Brussels on WOW Air at 6:15 AM of Sunday, August 20, 2017.