COURSE ASICS STOCKHOLM MARATHON
The course is 42,195 metres long, and has been measured in accordance with Swedish Athletics Federation and World Athletics rules. The measurement was carried out in April 2017 by Hugh Jones, AIMS course measurer from Great Britain with additional updates carried out in 2019 and 2021 by Mikael Hill, Swedish Athletic Federation measurer. For a more detailed description of the course, see below.
THE COURSE KILOMETER BY KILOMETER
1. Lidingövägen – Valhallavägen/Odengatan
The start is situated right outside the red-brick 1912 Olympic Stadium on wide Lidingövägen. Do not head in the wrong direction, or you’ll end up on one of the many Stockholm islands, Lidingö, home of the world’s largest cross country race, Lidingöloppet.
The first turn takes you onto Valhallavägen. Valhalla is the mythological hall where half of those who die in combat are supposed to travel upon death. But we are going to survive all the way back to the Olympic Stadium!
2. Odengatan – Odenplan
A nice downhill stretch leads us to the Stockholm Public Library, designed by renowned architect Gunnar Asplund. With its monumental cylinder on the top it is a splendid example of Nordic Classicism. At its opening in 1928 it was Sweden’s first public library to apply the principle of open shelves with no need to ask library staff for assistance.
3. Odenplan – St Eriksplan
Take a deep breath at the library as we are looking at our first climb, up to Odenplan, another reference to Nordic Mythology. Oden/Odin was the oldest and wisest God and has inspired composers from Richard Wagner to nameless heavy metal bands, as well as writers, Tolkien and Neil Galman.
4. St Eriksplan – Inedalsgatan
Crossing the Sankt Erik Bridge, with an eye on the building to the left, which housed ABBA’s studio during their most popular years (first release: Summer Night City), we arrive on Kungsholmen. The island was populated by Franciscan Monks in the 15th Century. Later, in the poor outskirts of the city, industrialisation in the late 19th century led to a growth from 4,000 to 26,000 inhabitants in 30 years. Running down to the waterfront we realize why it is now an emerging middle class area.
5. Inedalsgatan – Kungsholms Strand
A beautiful and flat section alongside Karlbergskanalen, named after the castle on the opposite side. It was a wedding gift to King Gustav III in 1766, but soon became a military academy, which is still in use.
6. Hornsberg – Lindhagensgatan
We are still running on the fairly easy section next to the canal, which has five names and is crossed by seven bridges, until we turn left and leave the water behind us.
7. Lindhagensgatan – Lindhagensplan
This was a rural area until 100 years ago. Lindhagensgatan is named after Albert Lindhagen who led Stockholm’s redevelopment into a modern city in the 19th century, with wide straight roads such as the one we are running on.
8. Lindhagensplan – Norr Mälarstrand
We are approaching the water again. But first we are going to run alongside Rålambshovsparken. Let’s say Rålis, that is so much easier, isn’t it? The park is a crowded area on sunny spring days when Stockholmers, who endured the depressing dark months, rush out of their winter nests. Many of them dare to swim in the freezing water, which is actually so clean that you can drink it!
9. Norr Mälarstrand – Stadshuset (City hall)
We continue our uninterrupted route towards the magnificent red-brick (again!) City Hall, a pearl of the national romanticism that reigned in the Nordic countries in the beginning of the 20th Century. 40 years after the inauguration, four lads from Liverpool were photographed against its walls. It became the cover of Beatles fifth EP, Long Tall Sally. The prestigious Nobel Prize gala is held in The Blue Hall and the ball in the Golden Hall.
10. Stadshuset – Gustav Adolfs Torg
The tenth kilometre on the fairly easy initial section leaves Kungsholmen, ”The King’s Island” and brings us right into the political heart of Stockholm, next to the Parliament, to Gustav Adolfs Torg. The square named by the king of the early 17th century has housed a Royal Opera since 1782. Ten years later King Gustav III was shot to death in the original building that was demolished later on, in 1892.
11. Gustav Adolfs Torg – Nybroplan
Between the Royal Opera and the Royal Dramatic Theatre lies Kungsträdgården, the kitchen garden of the court during the Middle Ages, and a very popular meeting place, so you will get tremendous support here from the crowds.
World famous director Ingmar Bergman left Sweden in 1976 after he was arrested by the police in the middle of a rehearsal at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, accused of tax fraud. Namesake Ingrid Bergman grew up next to the theatre, at Strandvägen 3.
13. Narvavägen – Karlavägen
Imagine the plague in 1710 that killed 20 000 who were put in mass graves, one of them here, while you are tackling the 600 metres on Narvavägen up to Karlaplan, where young mathematician, Arne Beurling, only needed a couple of weeks to single-handedly decipher the code used by the Nazis in their messages.
14. Karlavägen – Engelbrektsgatan
Cows were led through the avenue of Karlavägen as late as the end of the 19th century, to pasture on the fields of Gärdet (see 18). The park of Humlegården (”the hops garden”), on your left side, was established during the reign of Gustavus Adolphus to grow brewers’ hops. Later, it evolved into a kind of amusement park, with carousels and dance pavilions. The lime trees lining the avenues probably date from the reign of Queen Kristina in the 17th Century.
15. Engelbrektsgatan – Valhallavägen
We have covered a third of the marathon when the Olympic Stadium appears on the left. Do not be tempted to interrupt your race if you feel really tired. We have so much to offer yet! The opera fan, for instance, should be able to hear the voices of Jussi Björling and Birgit Nilsson while we pass the Royal College of Music, opposite the stadium. They were two of the most prominent pupils of the conservatory funded in 1771.
16. Valhallavägen – Gärdet
Back to Valhalla, Odin’s hall for slain heroes who were escorted by Valkyries, according to Nordic mythology. In the small park on the right, Gustav Adolfsparken, the first foot races in Sweden were contested in 1891. The winner had to run a hilly, triangular mile in less than five minutes to gain the trophy.
17. Gärdet – Diplomatstaden
We conquer the small hill of Oxenstiernsgatan before a nice descent carries us into the exclusive Diplomat City. On your right the Nobel Park, waiting a century for the Nobel Palace that was meant to be the venue of the Nobel Prize Ceremony (see 9). The park is home to almost every tree to be found in Sweden. On your left stands the former embassy of West Germany, which was occupied by a terrorist group in 1975. Two of the hostages were killed as their demands were refused by the German government and two of the terrorists died when the explosive they installed blew up.
The vast field on the left is called Gärdet, once the drill-ground of King Charles XIV John, the French marshal who became the King of Sweden in 1818; the first of the Bernadottes, who still reign in Sweden. The residential district of Gärdet was built in the 30s, an architecturally transitional period. It incorporates Functionalist and English Garden City planning ideas.
19. Djurgårdsbrunnsvägen – Manillavägen
A gentle rolling descent to the island of Djurgården, immersed in green in the most eco-friendly capital of Europe. We cross the Djurgårdsbrunn Canal that was dug up in 1834. It had been filled in to prevent sailors avoiding passing through the tollgates. South Djurgården became an island again. The canal hosted the rowing competitions of the 1912 Olympics.
Watch out, this is a tricky segment of the marathon, rolling on the green island of Djurgården, which means “the Animal Garden” and once it really was. A fence surrounded the island where the royals hunted deer. Lions and bears were used in animal fights in the 17th century. The fence was taken away and Stockholmers began to make day trips to the green fields of Djurgården, escaping the filthy streets of the city. Enjoy our NATURE ZONE. The ABBA-Museum welcomes you at the halfway point.
23. Djurgårdsvägen – Strandvägen
There are several museums on Djurgården that are worth a visit before or after the race. The art galleries, Liljevalchs and Prins Eugene’s Waldemarsudde, the world’s first open-air museum, Skansen and the biggest attraction of them all, the Vasa museum. When the Vasa set sail in 1628, she was probably the world’s most powerful warship. With 64 cannons and 300 men, she was sure to put the fear of God in the enemy, but she sank on her maiden voyage. The Vasa was raised in 1961 and the wreck has been restored as a fully rigged ship.
24. Strandvägen – Karl XII:s Torg
The noble Strandvägen gives you the first glimpse of the waters, which flow to the archipelago of 24,000 islands. The boulevard was completed for the Stockholm World’s Fair 1897, previously it was crowded with sheds and slum dwellings.
25. Skeppsbron – Slussen
How many marathons give you the opportunity to run past a full-functioning Royal Palace? Here we are, after 15 miles, where there have been castles for nine centuries. The present has 660 windows from which the King may watch your race.
26. Slussen – Bysistorget
A demanding ascent of eight percent over 250 meters leads us to Hornsgatan (via the new Golden Bridge), one the central streets of the island of Södermalm, once the island of the working class, now a trendy district for young people who have moved to Stockholm from less glamorous parts of Sweden. But we will soon be rewarded…
27. Bysistorget – Söder Mälarstrand
…as the 27th kilometre runs downwards to the water again. Look up and you’ll see Katarinahissen. The popular lift offers a spectacular view of Stockholm from its platform. You’ll pass through Slussen (“the Lock”), the meeting point of the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren.
28. Slussen – Stadsgården
Two thirds into the race we reach the Musical Mile on the old wharf of Stadsgården where once coal, hay and wood were distributed. Ferries to Finland leave from here while we continue our journey, deep into Södermalm.
29. Stadsgården – Tegelvikshamnen
We pass the Museum of Photography before we turn by Fåfängan, a point which offers one of the most stunning panoramic views of the Swedish capital.
Running up Folkungagatan we pass the former home of 2011 Nobel Prize of Literature recipient Tomas Tranströmer. The poet grew up at number 57, tormented by insomnia, as you may read in ”Winter 1957”.
31. Folkkungagatan – Söderledstunneln
The crowds increase again here as we are running in Bajenland, the district of the popular soccer team of Hammarby, always best enjoyed with a couple of beers.
32. Söderledstunneln – Hornsgatan
A few minutes in a tunnel and then: Ten kilometres to go! Let’s muster all the strength we have left. Feel the presence of Stieg Larsson as we hit Hornsgatan. Lisbeth Salander would meet Mikael Blomkvist at his favorite coffee bar at nr 78…
33. Hornsgatan – Högalidsparken
…700 meters further on we are at Lundagatan 41, where Lisbeth Salander grew up, according to Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. At this point our mood will have lifted as we have reached the top of Södermalm, and can see the double towers of the church of Högalid.
34. Högalid – Västerbron
A loud explosion hit Stockholm in 1864. It came from Lorensberg, a building where Alfred Nobel was experimenting with nitroglycerine on his way to discovering dynamite. Six people died, including his younger brother Emil. We continue to THE CLIMB of Västerbron, Sweden’s largest arched bridge. Here you will find the toughest ascent of the race, so take it easy! Take your time to appreciate the wonderful view of mirroring waters.
35. Västerbron – Rålambshov
We are returning to the King’s Island (”Kungsholmen”) more than 15 miles after leaving it at the City Hall. Below the bridge is the boat club where the couple in Bergman’s ”Summer with Monika” (originally titled in US: ”Monica: The Story of a Bad Girl”) started their trip to the archipelago. The movie was confiscated by the vice squad on its premiere in LA, clearly too much nudity for an American audience of the 50’s.
36. Rålambshov – Norr Mälarstrand
37. Norr Mälarstrand – Stadshuset
38. Stadshuset – Kungsträdgården
39. Kungsträdgården – Strandvägen
40. Strandvägen – Narvavägen
41. Narvavägen – Karlavägen
42. Karlavägen – Stadion
The Stockholm Marathon has a glorious finish, inside the Stadium of the 1912 Olympic Games, packed with supporters. Ancient athletics stadiums provided inspiration, as did the ring- walls of medieval cities. It is still used for many purposes, home of the international athletics meeting, BAUHAUS-Galan, and the venue of live acts such as Bruce Springsteen and U2. The Stadium proudly owns the world record of world records – no other arena has hosted more track & field world records – 83 to this day! Will you break your own record as you finish on the same track as numerous Olympic Champions?