In 1980, the first marathon pioneers took on the streets of Copenhagen for the first time.

Even if the history of marathon dates back to ancient Greece, it would take hundreds of years before the idea of running 42.195 kilometres in one stretch would catch on in our part of the world. The inaugural edition of the Boston Marathon was held in 1897, but the sport of marathon running didn't make its entry to Europe until the 70's and 80's.

In 1980, the first marathon was held in Copenhagen, organized by the athletics and running club Sparta, and the very first marathon pioneers were able to head out onto an unpredictable adventure of marathon.

Today's marathon event, which engages and impresses the entire city of Copenhagen and its residents, is something very different than what it was like during the first many years.

There were spectators, of course, but the marathon was not the kind of draw as it is today. The runners didn't have any power zones, DJ's, cheer leaders, screaming spectators, confetti rain or other forms of entertainment or energy boosts to look forward to, when things got tough.

It really required pure will power and toughness.


Old and new meet in the city of Copenhagen

Much has happened since the capital of Denmark saw its first marathon race.

But Copenhagen still accommodates both the old and narrow streets and historic buildings as well as new and trending city districts and innovative spaces. The marathon course features all of it.

Each part of the city has its own unique character and leaves its own impression as you run through it. From the brightly colored Nyhavn, across the modernized harbour, pass the famous Round Tower and the historic Citadel, on to the royal residence Amalienborg and Vesterbro with its hipster, cafés and urban vibe.


This is the female winner of the inaugural edition of the Copenhagen Marathon. Only 47 women participated that first year. Today, female runners make up 25% of the entrants.

WV vans and Ladas drove next to the field of marathon runners in the beginning of the 80's.

Only 995 runners took part in the first race edition back in 1980. None of them were foreign participants. Today the race has more than 10,000 participants of which 40% come from abroad.

The cranes along the harbour of Copenhagen, when it was still a working harbour with coal industry, among others, made for a very different marathon backdrop than today.