Holmenkollstafetten: The Biggest Relay Race In The World
It’s high season for running races here in Scandinavia. Last Monday I wrote about the first Salomon Trail Tour of the season and next Saturday, on 18th May, the world’s biggest half-marathon Göteborgsvarvet is held in Göteborg. And yesterday the world’s biggest relay race was held in Oslo. Holmenkollstafetten was held for the first time in 1923 and 90 years later it’s still going strong. The course runs for 18,66 km counter-clockwise from St Hanshaugen up to Holmenkollen and then down towards the finish line at Bislett Stadium. More than 2 400 teams had signed up for this year’s event, meaning around 36 000 runners pounded the asphalt of the streets of Oslo yesterday. That’s a phenomenal number of runners!
Holmenkollstafetten is first and foremost a race where workplaces compete together as a team against others. Yesterday I was part of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit-at-Ullevål-team which was competing in the mixed class of “Firm/Company – Mostly Female”. I’ve always kind of liked the gender distribution at the NICU. It’s a pleasant workplace. But the most important item on today’s agenda was to beat our colleagues at the PICU (Pediatric ICU) at Ullevål and our friends at NICU at Rikshospitalet. The pressure was palpable as failure was not an option. I was to run leg eight, also known as the Downhill Run. Standing by the subway station of Besserud I spotted Erik in his green surgeon’s cap that we all had agreed to wear for easy recognition in the sea of runners waiting to take off. He had just done one helluva job climbing the toughest leg and was now sprinting towards me waving the baton in the air. Grabbing it, I turned to run down the asphalt and boy did it feel like I flew down that road! 1 800 m downhill in 6 minutes flat (560th place out of 1 958 for my leg) and the team came on 1 153rd place out of a total of 1 958 teams! These short races are FUN!
After my leg I had to run to work where my colleague Kristina was anxiously waiting for me to relieve her from her dayshift, starting a night shift of my own while the team was celebrating our victory over PICU (40 seconds!) and NICU Rikshospitalet (5 minutes 1 second!). Thanks Kristina for covering for me a few hours!
I kinda like all these races in Oslo. Wonder when the next one is.