Run 119 : Denmark – Copenhagen

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Please give generously to Cancer Research :

Date : 9th September, 2017

Time :  57’15”

Total distance run to date : 1190 km

Run map and details :

The first thing you notice about Denmark is that they all talk like they do on the telly. Or at least they do if you’re one of the millions around the world who watched ‘The Killing’ and ‘Borgen’. It’s all ‘tak’, ‘ja’, ‘nej’, ‘god morgen’ and ‘min luftpudebåd er fyldt med ål’ (my hovercraft is full of eels*). You half feel as if you understand what’s being said whilst simultaneously looking for the sub-titles which, frustratingly, aren’t anywhere to be seen. (Not that it matters because, as far as I can tell, amongst their many other qualities, all Danes are highly proficient at English.)

Both shows were highly successful in terms of both awards and international distribution (see Facts & Stats below for more information). And both shows have now received what many would consider the ultimate accolade. Their lead characters, Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg and Detective Inspector Sarah Lund, have been photo shopped (above) into the Run the World blog. (I say ‘photo shopped’ but my technical skills are such that my 12 year old had to do it for me – on Snapchat.)

Sarah Lund and her jumpers captured the international imagination – including Charles and Camilla who were apparently ‘addicted to it’. (You’ll have to take my word for this because, if you search for ‘Charles, Camilla, The Killing’, all you’ll get is articles about Diana.)

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However my favourite was Nyborg as she juggled work and family life, idealism and the compromise and arm twisting needed to get anything done in politics.

Aficionados of the show may recall that Nyborg had a spin doctor – Kasper Juul – who, in addition to the usual comms and spinning, wasn’t above a little political skulduggery if it served Nyborg’s needs. Or a spot of brutal media training.

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And it just so happens I have an old friend who is also called Casper, who is also Danish, and who is also in communications (but not skulduggery to the best of my knowledge).

The backstory as to how I met Casper is, I hope, sufficiently interesting to warrant inclusion in this blog. In the mid-90s David Tabizel, visionary, entrepreneur and financier extraordinaire, decided that that this internet thingy was going to be big and that we should do something about football. David put together a management team of Danny Kelly (ex-editor of NME, Q and Total Sports – a publishing genius) ; Simon Morris (ex-Sega and subsequently a founder of Love Films – a marketing genius) ; and, um, me (who was to go on to become a world renowned blogger – or at least I think that’s what the future holds for me.)

Football 365 was born and, for the first year, we survived on what our mutual friend Hans Stocker calls the ‘fumes from an oily rag’. In other words, we had no money. And then the world caught up with David and we had some cash. Which meant that it was time to recruit a team.

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Casper’s interview technique was a fine example of that bracing directness for which the Scandinavians are justly famous. He informed the three of us that we knew nothing about the internet and that we needed people like him. Needless to say we hired him – and a number of other young internet guns such as Rod Mclaren, Phil Rooke, Julian Marszalek and Paul Holland. (Paul’s real surname was Galesloot but, in typically English style, this was deemed too difficult to pronounce so he became known as Paul Holland. Which may seem a touch feeble but did mean that, when Nick Folland joined our legal team, he quickly became known as Nick Folland Not From Holland. Which was highly amusing.)

Those young guns have subsequently all done very well and Football 365 ended up as part of Sky Sports. As an aside, I was out with a friend from Sky the other night and this came up. I suspect she thought I was going to be critical of Sky’s stewardship of what I inevitably still think of as our baby. But I was honestly able to say that Sky had done a fine job of letting it be (albeit with the inclusion of a lot more ads).

It’s still the rather wonderful thing that it was always meant to be : the digital equivalent of passionate fans sitting in the pub and taking about football with genuine expertise and humour. If you’re a football fan, it’s brilliant.

Enough of the backstory and back to the run. I was due to meet Casper in front of the Radshuis (town hall) and as I walked there it was raining cats and dogs – and all the other denizens of Noah’s Ark.


I like to think this accounts for the rather strange hair in the photo below (Casper’s the good looking one on the left).

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And I must have had water on the brain because I failed to turn on my Garmin properly for the first 500m or so. (Which may not sound like much but is 500m more than I needed to run given my lack of fitness after the recent knee problems.)

I was also doing a very poor job of simultaneously running around unfamiliar streets and following my mental image of the route Casper had been good enough to put together (which was due to take me past most of the major sights in Copenhagen and which I had failed to print out…).

But I do know that I ran past Borgen, which literally means “The Castle”, and which is the informal name for the Christiansborg Palace (top picture) which houses the three branches of the Danish government : Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court. (Borgen is also often used as a figure of speech for the Danish government.)

I also ran round Nyhaven which is a colourful waterfront area full of bars and restaurants.


Nyhaven is also the location for an eye catching artwork by Ai Weiwei. He’s stuffed 3,500 life jackets – collected from refugees in Lesbos – into the windows of the Kunsthal Charlottenborg. ‘Soleil Levant’ which opened on United Nations international refugee day (June 20) aims to increase awareness of the ongoing refugee crisis.

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I also ran around the outside of the Tivoli Gardens which is actually a large amusement park slap bang in the centre of town. Possibly Copenhagen’s most famous tourist attraction, its particularly impressive at night.

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Despite the fact that I was almost permanently semi-lost, it was a good run round Copenhagen. It’s a fine place and would make a great weekend break for anyone who hasn’t already visited. I hope to be back one day.

In the meantime, it just remains for me to say ‘tusind tak’ to Casper and Malene for all the help with the run and the hospitality afterwards. I’ll see you in Den Haag for my Dutch run!

*When I checked online for common Danish words this is one of the phrases they quoted – in homage to a Monty Python sketch called the ‘Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook’. Researching these blogs takes me to the strangest places.


Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Denmark  is the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. it is south-west of Sweden and south of Norway and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has an area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), which increases to  2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi) if you include Greenland and the Faroes, and a population of 5.75 million (as of 2017).

The unified kingdom of Denmark emerged in the 10th century as a proficient seafaring nation in the struggle for control of the Baltic Sea. Denmark, Sweden and Norway were ruled together under the Kalmar Union, established in 1397 and ending with Swedish secession in 1523. Denmark and Norway remained under the same monarch until outside forces dissolved the union in 1814. The union with Norway made it possible for Denmark to inherit the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. Beginning in the 17th century, there were several cessions of territory to Sweden. In the 19th century there was a surge of nationalist movements, which were defeated in the 1864 Second Schleswig War. Denmark remained neutral during World War I. In April 1940, a German invasion saw brief military skirmishes while the Danish resistance movement was active from 1943 until the German surrender in May 1945. An industrialised exporter of agricultural produce in the second half of the 19th century, Denmark introduced social and labour-market reforms in the early 20th century that created the basis for the present welfare state model with a highly developed mixed economy.

The Constitution of Denmark was signed on 5 June 1849, ending the absolute monarchy, which had begun in 1660. It establishes a constitutional monarchy organised as a parliamentary democracy. The government and national parliament are seated in Copenhagen, the nation’s capitallargest city and main commercial centre. Denmark exercises hegemonic influence in the Danish Realmdevolving powers to handle internal affairs. Home rule was established in the Faroe Islands in 1948; in Greenland home rule was established in 1979 and further autonomy in 2009. Denmark became a member of the European Economic Community (now the EU) in 1973, maintaining certain opt-outs; it retains its own currency, the krone. It is among the founding members of NATO, the Nordic Council, the OECDOSCE, and the United Nations; it is also part of the Schengen Area.

Denmark is considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world. Danes enjoy a high standard of living and the country ranks highly in some metrics of national performance, including educationhealth care, protection of civil libertiesdemocratic governanceprosperity and human development. The country ranks as having the world’s highest social mobility, a high level of income equality is the country with the lowest perceived level of corruption in the world, has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, and one of the world’s highest personal income tax rates.


Borgen is a Danish political drama television series created by Adam Price. It tells how Birgitte Nyborg, a minor centrist politician, becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark against all the odds.

Adam Price is the co-writer and developer of the series, together with Jeppe Gjervig Gram and Tobias LindholmBorgen is produced by DR, the Danish public broadcaster which had previously produced The Killing.

The series stars Sidse Babett Knudsen as Birgitte Nyborg Christensen; Mikael Birkkjær as her husband; Pilou Asbæk as Kasper Juul, a spin doctorBirgitte Hjort Sørensen as Katrine Fønsmark, a TV1 news anchorSøren Malling as Torben Friis, news editor for TV1; and Benedikte Hansen as Hanne Holm, a journalist.

Awards for the show include the 2010 Prix Italia for best drama series, a Golden Nymph to Sidse Babett Knudsen for Outstanding Actress in a drama series at the 2011 Monte-Carlo Television Festival,]and the Fipa Grand Prize for Best TV Series as well as for Best Original Soundtrack at the 2011 Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels.[  The program also won the award for Best International TV series at the 2012 British Academy Television Awards.


The Killing (DanishForbrydelsen, “The Crime”) is a Danish police procedural three-series-long television drama created by Søren Sveistrup and produced by DRin co-production with ZDF Enterprises. It was first broadcast on the Danish national television channel DR1 on 7 January 2007, and has since been transmitted in many other countries worldwide.

The series is set in Copenhagen and revolves around Detective Inspector Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl). Each series follows a murder case day-by-day. Each fifty-minute episode covers twenty-four hours of the investigation. The series is noted for its plot twistsseason-long storylines, dark tone and for giving equal emphasis to the stories of the murdered victim’s family and the effect in political circles alongside the police investigation. It has also been singled out for the photography of its Danish setting, and for the acting ability of its cast.

The Killing has proved to be an international hit—garnering significant critical acclaim—particularly in the United KingdomGermany and The Netherlands. It has become a cult television show, and has received numerous awards and nominations including a BAFTA Award and an International Emmy, and in 2011 a US remake was produced by the American cable network AMC.


World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Denmark – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP                                               $306 bn    2016      $164 bn   2000

Population                                   5.73 m       2016       5.34 m     2000

Primary school enrolment*      102%        2015       101%      2000

% below poverty line**             NA                             NA

Life expectancy at birth            81.1 yrs      2015      76.6 yrs    2000

GNI per capita                             $56730      2016      $32660       2000

*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students

**The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While most of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)


Greatest Sporting Nation Data

Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how Denmark performed in the global sporting arena in 2016:

Global Cup – 20th

Per Capita Cup – 4th

The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.


About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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