Having arrived here in Stockholm the day before, with the nine-hour time difference and the restless day light, I woke up at 4:30 am and could not go back to sleep. This presented myself with a perfect opportunity to go for a morning run in this favorite city of mine. The cool morning air helped me forget yesterday’s long flight and cleared my tired head. My legs recovered from the track meet a few days ago and were ready to take some new beating for the Jubilee Marathon in just over a week.
During my previous visit to Stockholm, I had gone for a run. But I was staying at a different place then and it was a snowing afternoon, already dark after 4pm. So, this was almost a new experience. I left Hotel Rival (ABBA’s Benny is the owner, though I never saw him there) in Södermalm and head north towards Djurgården via Gamla Stan and Strandvägen. With the marathon less than two weeks, I no longer needed to put in hard miles. Besides, my focus has been track in the past two months, so I was not going to race the marathon, anyway. The plan was to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the event. Running through beautiful tourists spots, such as Gamla Stan, in the early morning, gave a slightly different look and my heart rate increased quickly. After the stretch of tree-lined walk way along Strandvägen, I ran into wooded area just north of Djurgården, across Djurgårdsbrunnsviken.
There were a few runners and walkers, but other than that, it was very quiet. The clean and pristine running path was so refreshing that I kept on running instead of turning back. There were also big nice-looking houses along this path. Since my Verizon iPhone did not have any coverage in Sweden, I could not use RunKeeper, nor could I rely on GPS map to see where I was going. And that’s how I got lost, despite the availability of area maps along the path. I wasn’t concerned too much, though. I could always go back the way I came, and that’s what I ended up doing when I came to a dead end at a shore.
So I stopped and rested a little bit with the view of the Baltic Sea inlet and Stockholm archipelago in a distance. It was so beautiful, quiet and peaceful. After a few moments, I set off and ran back the way I came. On the way back to the hotel, I wanted to stop by at the Olympic Stadium where the marathon will start. After a couple of trials and errors of re-orienting myself and finally asking a runner for directions, I managed to get to the southern end of Karlavägen and found the way to the Olympic Stadium.
I wanted to go inside the stadium and run some striders if possible, but all the gates were locked. Oh well… After circling around the stadium, I decided to run back to the hotel. I was getting hungry and feeling fatigued. I cut across Karlsvägen to Stureplan and ran south on Birger Jarlsgatan, which is sort of like Champs-Élysées or the Fifth Avenue of Stockholm, at least in my opinion. The street was getting busier with tourists by the time I was heading back to the hotel. By the time I came back to the hotel, I ran 11 miles and that was more than I wanted to run.
I was trying to decided if Stockholm was runner-friendly city or not. Surely, the big streets, such as Karlasvägen, Valhallavägen, and Strandvägen have a very nice path for runners and strollers. While most city streets have a bike lane and people ride bikes quite a bit, even in the winter with snow on the ground, I did not see many people running on the city streets. I wanted to explore the city by running again and get a better sense to come to a decision, but this was the only time I found time to run. So the question still remains, until next visit. I did run one more time in Sweden, apart from the marathon, but that was when I visited up north, Dalarna district, three-hour train ride north of Stockholm. I will write about that run as well.