GOTHENBURG, Sweden—Göteborgsvarvet is the world’s biggest half marathon. The winner in the men’s run was a sensation, for he is an unknown runner from Kenya, Sammy Kiprono. Kiprono won with a record time of 1:01.
Only 1,800 participated in the first race in1980. The race has become more popular every year. This year more than 58,000 runners signed up to run the 21 km.
After one hour and one minute from the start, the winner was at the finishing line. After him followed more Africans and only in 11th place came a Swede, Lars Johansson, Enhörna, with a time of 1:06:48.
“I expected myself to win, I pulled loose after 20 minutes and never felt threatened,” said the winner Kiprono, according to Göteborgs Posten, a local paper.
Amane Gobena, from Ethiopia, won in the women’s marathon with a time of 1:11:40, also setting a record. Only 14 male runners beat her to the finishing line. In second place, came Sweden’s Isabellah Andersson with a time of 1:13:29.
It has never rained in the 31 years that Göteborgsvarvet has existed, said organizers. Göteborgsvarvet started as usual in brilliant sunshine on Saturday, May 22 at 2:30 pm.
Many of the runners in Sweden have not had the advantage of good practice under the same conditions as the two winners, for never before have snow and icy grounds forced the runners to wait so long for outdoor training as this year.
Göteborgsvarvet is like a festival and the warm weather attracted
200,000 people to cheer on the runners and especially their loved ones and friends who participated in the race.
In Slottsskogen, a park in the center hundreds of people gathered for a picnic with family and friends. Sales of sausages, beverages, and candy were in high demand.
Along the track there were various musicians to cheer on the runners and attract the audience. Tourists and runners also got a new attraction to look at this year, namely the Gothenburg-wheel.
It became very difficult for many runners this year for race day was this year’s hottest day with a temperature of 80.4 degrees (26.9 degrees Celsius). The summer came late to southern Sweden and it has only been three days before the race with warm weather. Many had to quit the race and some runners collapsed due to lack of fluids in the body.
“This has been one of the toughest races so far. Runners have not been prepared for the heat. Even the elite runners have had a rough time,” said Göran Byhlin, press officer for the race to SVD newspaper.