Fornebuløpet 10k 2018: First Time on Pacing Duty

Traditionally, most street 5k and 10k street races take place during the weekend here in Norway, while weekdays are typically reserved for local run carousels and the like. Fornebuløpet is an exception to this, and it brands itself as the most popular midweek race in the country with around 4000 runners participating this year. Runners can choose to run a 3k, a 5k, a 10k or all three distances (“The Triple”) for those that feel inclined to run three races on a single evening.

The 2018 edition of the race took place on May 24th, and I ran the 10k. Being a quite inexperienced racer, this night was a bit of a new experience for, as I had offered to pace a friend who was running. The main reason for this was that the race didn’t really fit with my marathon training plan for the week, but I still wanted to see what the race was all about. For all the details about my run, check out the Strava activity.

My friend lives close to the area of the race, and we jogged from his place to the starting area to arrive about 30 minutes before the gun went off. The weather was extremely hot for Norway an evening in May, with the sun blazing in the sky and close to 30 degrees Celsius. As my buddy hadn’t really trained too much in the lead up to the race, we were unsure about what time he should be targeting. But after some back and forth, we decided to try for 45 minutes despite the conditions, and adjust along the way if necessary.

Runners at the start of Fornebuløpet 5k
From the start of the 5k at Fornebuløpet 2018. Photo by Kjell Vigestad, Kondis.

The race had a staggered start consisting of at least five different waves all being sent off by a starting gun, and we went off with the fourth wave. We were able to hold our target pace of 4min 30sec/km for the first couple of kilometres, but after that, my friend started to struggle, and our pace dropped a little. Still, we kept on passing people and were well on track to get in below 50 minutes, which was his “must” goal for the race.

In terms of surface, the course mixed between asphalt and gravel. On a dry day in a hot period like this, running with thousands of other people on gravel paths isn’t necessarily fun, as there will be a lot of dust. The paths were also quite narrow at some points, making it hard to pass people Otherwise, the course was relatively flat, but there was a couple of very sharp switchback turns.

Somewhere around 6-7k my buddy had to start working quite hard to maintain the pace we were on at that point, which was closer to 5:00/km. At this point, I realised it was all about getting him to the finish line in under 50 minutes. I did my best to encourage him, and a couple of times between here and the finish line I was not very popular and got told to “shut up!” and “stop bothering me!” But we pressed on, and despite threats that he would start walking we managed to avoid any full stops or walking breaks.

Entering the final 1000 meters, I was able to talk him into increasing the pace a little. We managed to pass a few people, and, more importantly, avoid getting passed by anyone on the home stretch! We both got 47:55 as our official finish time, which was acceptable.

All in all, I had an enjoyable experience pacing someone for the first time, and I will definitely do it again if the opportunity comes along. Although he was annoyed by me as we race, my friend insisted that he wouldn’t have been close to finishing in under 50 minutes if I hadn’t been there to force him to give all he had on the day. I don’t think that’s true, but I know from experience in hard workouts that having someone to drag you along can help you push yourself a bit closer to the max. Having said that, I definitely felt a slight itch to race all out, especially as the first group of runners lined up. I guess it’s hard to subdue that old competitive spirit.

The race was well organised, and I particularly liked that they had taken some small measures to help runners in the heat by setting up three stations with cold, wet spunges and a few cold water sprinkles along the course. All in all a race I will run again if it fits my schedule next year.