Welcome to Norway – the land of fjords, reindeer, and the best cross-country skiers in the world. This northern European outdoor adventure mecca is one of the most scenic countries you will ever see, boasting more untouched nature, mountains, and valleys, just waiting to be explored. And this hearty, sprawling wilderness has raised some of the best endurance athletes of all time. I mean think about it, you have thousands of kilometers of well-worn hiking and running trails crossing valleys, traversing mountainsides, and sending you through the forests. Many of the trails dating back to the Viking era! — What else does an athlete do here besides run and ski and run some more?
Come and experience the perfect landscape for all runners with a multitude of high-energy, insanely gorgeous, and intense running races throughout Norway.
For The Serious (Sightseeing) Runners
Running will always be the best way to check out some new scenery while getting in a great workout. So, while on your travels, check out the city from a different perspective and lace up those shoes! Running in races throughout the city can be a great way to check out the main highlights in the most efficient way, all while being surrounded by other eager athletes, just like yourself!
1. The Oslo City Marathon
September in Oslo, Eastern Norway
Competing in the Oslo City Marathon is the perfect way to soak in all that Oslo has to offer while covering a lot of distance on foot. Oslo, the “biggest little city” you will ever explore, is compact and nestled between the fjord and forest. This marathon will take you through historic and modern areas of the city, along the coast, through the famous parks, and even by the castle, all before you cross the finish line.
Not to mention, the Oslo marathon happens in late summer/early fall – right when the beautiful fall colors start arriving in Norway. Not a bad time to be a tourist in northern Europe.
2. The Bergen Marathon
April in Bergen, Western Norway
Welcome the springtime with a fresh run challenge in Norway’s western hub, Bergen. The Bergen Marathon will take off from the historic Bryggen, “the pier”, in the heart of the city. Soak in the coastal views before you are directed back through the eclectic and colorful old neighborhoods found throughout the city, and eventually back to the Bryggen. Bergen is one of northern Europe’s most beautiful cities, so you will definitely get a lot of sightseeing in while you check off those miles.
With this race taking place in the springtime, you will see the colors come to life throughout the parks and forests. Kick off your spring and summer running seasons in style and burn off that winter layer by challenging yourself to the Bergen Marathon!
For Those Tough Guys and Gals
3. The Tough Viking
June, Eastern Norway
This 10-kilometer mountainous obstacle course throws you into mud pits, takes you through fields on fire, and tosses you over mounds of snow. This race is not for the faint of heart but is definitely made for the hearty souls who are not afraid to get a little dirty. The Tough Viking is gaining some serious popularity and is being hosted in countries all around the world. But let’s be honest, nothing sounds cooler than competing in the Tough Viking in the homeland of the true Vikings.
For The Absolutely Insane Athletes
4. Isklars Extreme Norseman
August in Rjukan, Southern Norway
The Extreme Norseman is the Viking of all triathlons. They mean business in this part of the country. All sections of this race are a bit harsher than what you would hope to expect. You start off swimming through a fjord, which the average temperature at this time of year ranges between 13 and 15 degrees Celsius, and wetsuits are mandatory. The biking section covers 180 kilometers – just hope that it isn’t raining or even snowing on this glorious day. And to finish off the fun, you start the final marathon-distance run at 230 meters above sea level and finish at the top of Gaustatoppen, a mountain towering at 1850 meters above sea level. This race takes place in August, which is definitely the month that boasts better weather than the other summer months, but still, we are dealing with Norway here, not Hawaii.
For the “Typisk Norsk” running experience
The northern region of Norway is one of a kind in the nature category – the perfect location for a “typical Norwegian” run. The surrounding landscape is one thing, and then there are the fascinating natural characteristics that come with Norway’s latitudinal placement on earth.
5. The Midnight Sun Run
June in Tromsø, Northern Norway
In the summertime, the daylight in northern Norway is endless and so are the opportunities for outdoor adventures. The Midnight Sun Run, held in Tromsø in June, kicks off around ten o’clock in the evening, so you literally will be running at midnight, under the light of the sun. For those who are not from Norway, especially the northern region of Norway, this is something that must be experienced.
6. The Polar Night Run
December in Senja, Northern Norway
In comparison to the never-ending daylight in the summer, the winters in northern Norway experience weeks and even months without even a glimpse of the sun. But they do get a glimpse of another incredible natural occurrence that only specific places around the world get the pleasure of seeing: the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. Now imagine going for a run lit up — not by the light of the moon — but the light of brilliant greens, blues, pinks, and purples, that dance across the sky. Yes, the Polar Night Run is a winter run, and yes it will be cold, but absolutely, yes will it be awesome!
For A Good Bun-Burnin’ Run
7. Oslo’s Bratteste (Oslo’s Steepest)
October in Oslo, Eastern Norway
There is nothing like an uphill run to get your backside burning. And there is nothing like being surrounded by thousands of other eager runners, including some of the best in the world, for that extra motivation. Running Oslo’s Bratteste may sound like a quick challenge, and for those insane uphill runners, the race to the top of the alpine ski hill can be over in about 20 minutes. For the rest of us “average folk”, this run (which will most likely turn into a fast-paced hike due to the serious incline of this slope) will take about 45 minutes to an hour to reach the finish line. Note: you will thank us later for the natural butt lift you will experience.
For The Runners Who Want To Touch The Sky
8. Lyngen Fjord Sky Run
July in Lyngen, Northern Norway
The Lyngen Fjord and the surrounding mountains are located just east of Tromsø, Norway’s largest city in the north. These mountains, nicknamed the Norwegian Alps, provide an incredible landscape for outdoor activities and this trail run is a killer. The 5-kilometer Lyngen Fjord Sky Run starts off along the coast and shoots up 1050 meters through the forest and into the rocky terrain at the top of Storhaugen. “Winner takes all” in this challenge.
For Those Runners Who Always Like To Drag a Few Friends Along
May in Oslo, Eastern Norway
Participate in the world’s largest relay race, the Holmenkollstaffeten, which welcomes more than 40,000 participants sprinting through the streets of Oslo. Sign up with a team of 8 or 15 friends, classmates, family, or even coworkers. Some companies even stack their teams with pro runners*! Every and all combinations are allowed. This is one of the most typical Norwegian activities you will ever come across and anyone is allowed participate!
The race takes you from downtown Oslo, through the city, up to Gressbanen, near the Holmenkollen Ski Arena and back down through the famous Frognerparken, next to the castle, and finally winds you back to the finish line at Bislett, the 1952 Winter Olympic stadium in Oslo.
Wear costumes or pick out matching t-shirts for your team – anything to build that team spirit. Distances for each leg of the relay race are between 50 meters to 3000 meters. So choose wisely and get to it!
*You didn’t hear this from me.
So, if you are looking for your next destination for both an unbelievable experience and a spectacular competition, look no further, book that ticket to Norway!