18 Jan

Stockholm offers a dramatic route to marathon success

runners at Stockholm Marathon

Stockholm with 17,000 entrants might not be the biggest of international marathons but it ranks right up there with the best of them. The late May date means the city is enjoying 20 hours of daylight so huge Nordic skies combine with Stockholm's dramatic archipelago setting to create a very special running occasion.

The excitement starts on the eve of the marathon when runners get a taste of the unique race atmosphere at the Asics High Five run with a magical finish in the Olympic Stadium. Seeing the flags of many countries and hearing the multi-lingual chat of your fellow runners is sure to put you in race mood.

On the big day, Sunday 30 May, the atmosphere is charged from early morning ahead of the dramatic start at the Olympic Stadium, the home of the 1912 Games. Home runners are supplemented by a big international contingent with over 100 nations represented.

The now established one-lap course includes the inspiring stadium start in the exclusive Östermalm district, the waterfront stretches, the medieval Old Town, the magnificent City Hall, the island-hopping and fabulous vistas across the islands that make up the city. Stockholm Marathon is possibly the best way to take in all the great city sights and it certainly helps take your mind off of the effort involved in completing those 26.2 miles.

Mentally tick off Royal Palaces, chic department stores, parkland fairgrounds and zoos, beaches, bohemian streets and the landmark central station. Before you know it you'll be crossing the finish line back at the stadium in a blaze of glory.

The compact course is ultra-friendly for spectators so come with family and friends, some of them might want to enjoy the Friday 5k or the junior races. And if you have an off-day – don't worry; one of the nice touches of Stockholm Marathon is that if you are forced to drop out they will call you a taxi to take you to finish!

Stockholm itself is a stunning city. Not huge, like London or New York, but interesting and cosmopolitan. Top tips for a great weekend visit? Orientate yourself with a boat tour around the archipelago, a full exploration of medieval Gamla Stan - very atmospheric, and an excursion to the Vasa, which doubles as a the beautifully preserved 17th century ship and the most visited museum in Scandinavia.