About Copenhagen Marathon

For 44 years Copenhagen has been the home for our marathon

Marathon pioneers ran in the streets of Copenhagen for the first time in 1980

Although the marathon discipline is said to go all the way back to ancient Greece, it took many years for the idea of running 42.195 km at one stretch to spread to other parts of the world. The Boston Marathon was held for the first time in 1897, but it was not until the 70s and 80s that the marathon discipline came to Europe.

In 1980 the marathon discipline came to Copenhagen with Sparta Athletics & Running as organiser and the first marathon pioneers were able to run the long distance through the streets of Copenhagen.

In the early years the Copenhagen Marathon wasn’t as organised as now. Amongst other the course wasn’t closed completely off to traffic, so the runners had to run in and out between the cars at some places. There was even one year where the runners had to run over Langebro, and the bridge went up twice so all the runners had to wait patiently for the bridge to go down again before they could continue.

Fortunately a lot has happened since then and today the course, road closures and every other practical aspect are meticulously planned.

Pure willpower

The popular running with a lively atmosphere and plenty of spectators cheering the thousands of marathon runners through the streets of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, is something completely different than what it was the first many years.

Of course there were spectators, but there was no finishing straight as today. There were no power zones, DJs, cheerleaders, screaming spectators or other entertainment, to boost the runners’ motivation when it got tough.

As more there wasn’t near the same number of participants in the first pioneering years. Just pure will power and toughness to get you through the many kilometers.

Niels Jørgen Holdt, who has been involved in organising the Copenhagen Marathon since the start, explains: “Back in 1980, when we got the idea for the first version of the Copenhagen Marathon, marathon runners were perceived as oddballs, and it was only the family who was out cheering them on. Today it is a huge popular festival filled with entertainment that involves the whole city.

When it all started

– the runners had to run in and out between cars, because the course weren’t completely closed off.

Side by side

Volkswagens and Ladas drove side by side with the marathon field in the beginning of the 80s.

47 women

There was only 995 participants at the first Copenhagen Marathon and only 47 of those were women.

The first female winner

The first female winner of the first edition of the Copenhagen Marathon was Lone Dybdahl.

A digital update

Much has changed since the capital first laid asphalt – or rather cobblestones – to the first marathon runners.

In the beginning, race results were printed in the newspaper and hung in the windows of Politiken’s Hus the day after the race. Video and pictures were scarce, and only those present were part of the experience and memories.

Today, the Copenhagen Marathon is a completely different experience, which not only exists in real life, but is also strengthened and preserved in a digital universe. Live video and personal photos are taken during the race, and friends and family can follow their loved ones live via the Copenhagen Marathon app. The race is broadcasted all over the world, so you can cheer on your friends and family even if you can’t be there in person.

The experience and memories are real and personal, but at the same time digital and shared. This is why the Copenhagen Marathon has an ambition of becoming the world’s most digital marathon.

Rebranding in 2023

In 2023 the Copenhagen Marathon had a major rebranding. The new Copenhagen Marathon brand is made to portray who we are and that we are on a journey together with the runners. Our brand shall help portray Copenhagen as a modern and global capital and metropol where runners run, live and breathe in and out.

Color change

From blue to yellow.

New logo

A logo inspired by running legs.


From Copenhagen Marathon to Runner’s Habitat.