Run 174 : Iceland – Reykjavik

rtw iCELAND 1

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Date : 10th September, 2019

Time : 1h 0’ 57”

Number of runners (total to date) : 31 (6294)

Run map and details :

The conversation turned, as it sometimes does on these runs, to Brexit. “I thought you left Europe in 2016,” one of my fellow runners said to me with a smile on his face. It took me a second to realise he wasn’t referencing the EU referendum of the 23rd June 2016.

No, he was referring to Iceland knocking England out of the European (football) Championship on 27th June 2016. An evening I remember vividly. Partly for the shock of the two almost simultaneous exits. And partly for the Icelandic clap – one of the best football ‘chants’ ever and probably the only bright spot that evening.

Continuing with the football theme, about 30 of us met at the stadium of KR Reykjavik – Iceland’s most successful club team (26 times national champions). The run had been organised by Helga of Go Running Tours and Margret from the KR-skokk running club and at least half of the runners were in training for the upcoming Berlin marathon. Luckily for me, they were in the tapering down phase of their training so the pace wasn’t too ferocious…

Our run took us along the coastline

to Reykjavik Nautholsvik beach where we stopped for water and to regroup. I know what readers unfamiliar with Iceland will now be thinking. ‘A beach in Reykjavik – can’t imagine that gets many swimmers!’

However, it’s a geothermal beach so the water is warmer than you’d expect and there were quite a few swimmers there when we ran past on an evening that was decidedly chilly (the image below isn’t from our run)

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From there we ran across the peninsular to the northern shoreline and our second regrouping point with views of Harpa Concert Hall in the background.

RTW Iceland 2

The run continued past Reykjavik’s downtown area and docks before finishing back at the KR Reykjavik ground. Where I introduced the group to the Six Pack Challenge and the concept of the post run plank. (Thank you everyone for joining in – I think I might have felt a little foolish planking on my own!)

6 pack 2

By this time the rain was setting in so, Thorlakur, one of the KR-skokk coaches, was good enough to give me a lift back into town in his car with its magnificent collection of dashboard elves. (And, no, contrary to popular myth, Icelanders don’t believe in elves – these had been bought to support a local charity.)

RTW Iceland 3

I also learnt that Iceland were playing that night – in a Euro 2020 championship qualifier – so it seemed fitting to watch the football over dinner that night. Sadly Iceland lost 4-2 to Albania….

It just remains for to say an enormous thank you to Helga, Margret, Thorlakur, Tinna and all my fellow runners / plankers for the help and support. I loved my time in Reykjavik and hope to be back one day!

If any of you can make it, then I’d love to see you in London on 4th July 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!

If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 360,390 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude almost entirely outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

According to the ancient manuscript Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent settler on the island.In the following centuries, Norwegians, and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians, emigrated to Iceland, bringing with them thralls (i.e., slaves or serfs) of Gaelic origin.

The island was governed as an independent commonwealth under the Althing, one of the world’s oldest functioning legislative assemblies. Following a period of civil strife, Iceland acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th century.

In the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Iceland’s struggle for independence took form and culminated in independence in 1918 and the founding of a republic in 1944.

Iceland has a market economy with relatively low taxes, compared to other OECD countries as well as the highest trade union membership in the world. It maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. Iceland ranks high in economic, democratic, social stability, and equality, currently ranking first in the world by median wealth per adult. In 2018, it was ranked as the sixth most developed country in the world by the United Nations’ Human Development Index, and it ranks first on the Global Peace Index. Iceland runs almost completely on renewable energy.

Hit hard by the worldwide financial crisis, the nation’s entire banking system systemically failed in October 2008, leading to a severe depression, substantial political unrest, the Icesave dispute, and the institution of capital controls. Some bankers were jailed. Since then, the economy has made a significant recovery, in large part due to a surge in tourism.

Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation’s Scandinavian heritage. Most Icelanders are descendants of Norse and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is descended from Old West Norse and is closely related to Faroese. Iceland has the smallest population of any NATO member and is the only one with no standing army, with a lightly armed coast guard.

World Bank Data

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

GDP $25.9 bn 2018 $9 bn 2000
Population 354 k 2018 281 k 2000
Primary school enrolment* 100% 2016 103% 2000
CO2 Emissions** 6.1 2014 7.7 2000
% below poverty line*** NA NA
Life expectancy at birth 82.2 yrs 2017 79.7 yrs 2000
GNI per capita $60 740 2017 $31 550 2000

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

** Metric tons per capita

***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much 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 Iceland performed in the global sporting arena in 2018:

Global Cup – NA

Per Capita Cup – NA

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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1 Response to Run 174 : Iceland – Reykjavik

  1. Helga Erlingsdottir says:

    Thank you for the visit and nice story. Wish you all the best.

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