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Nils Aaskilde ran the first five editions of the Copenhagen Marathon back in 1980. After 35 years break, the will be lining up again on May 19th.

“We will be waiting for you!”

56-Year-Old Nils Aaskilde still remember those words very clearly, even though it’s been 39 years since he heard it during the very first edition of Copenhagen Marathon in 1980. The supporting words came from race director, Niels Jørgen Holdt, who started the Copenhagen Marathon and became head of race organization up until this year.

“Niels Jørgen Holdt was the race director back then. He personally kept cheering us on and repeating that sentence during the whole race. And when I ran through the deserted streets of Copenhagen on that Saturday evening, it suddenly meant a lot,” says Nils Aaskilde.

That first year, Nils was one only 784 participants, who actually finished the race.

”I had absolutely no idea of what it took to run a marathon. I even told another participant that I would probably finish in around 2:30. I was far from that time, I believe I finished in 4:37,” tells Nils Aaskilde.

The experience didn’t scare him though, and he lined up at the starting line in the following four years. During those years, he experienced a race that was in a great development.

”Already the year after, the race had improved a lot, and everything was planned better. In general, I think the race has developed positively each year, but still, the races back then cannot be compared to the race I am going to experience next Sunday. The city of Copenhagen was completely different at that time,” says Nils Aaskilde.

Passed by the Danish king of marathon

Not only the course was different from today.

The streets were not closed to traffic back in the early 1980’s, and Nils remembers a specific incident where a taxi did not want to stop for the runners, and it almost ended in a fight between the runners and the taxi driver. Fortunately, he has far more good memories from the races between 1980 and 1984.

”Already at that time there would be some music along the course and a nice finish area with something to drink was also established. I specifically remember the year 1983, where the Danish king of marathon, Henrik Jørgensen, won the race. He passed me about halfway through the race and he almost spurted, which impressed me deeply.”

Nils also participated the following years, but ran his last marathon in 1984. He has been maintaining his physical fitness with soccer, tennis, and lots of cycling. Once in a while the running shoes also come in use.

”For many years I have wanted to run a marathon again, but I haven’t done anything about it. But now is the time. My physical fitness is good, but I definitely should have gone for some longer runs. I will just have to see how it goes on race day, but I’m definitely excited,” says Nils Aaskilde.