The GöteborgsVarvet Half Marathon over the years

The GöteborgsVarvet Half Marathon is one of the world’s biggest running events. 60,000 runners will be cheered on by a crowd of around 200,000 spectators, with more than 50 bands providing music to help them to keep pace along the course.

GöteborgsVarvet was first held in 1980. 1,800 runners set off from Heden towards Ullevi Stadium. It was a particularly sunny day, with temperatures in excess of 30°C! 1982 was the first time the ever-popular Ingemar “Ingo” Johansson took part, aged 50 and weighing in at 115 kg. He also competed the following year. This appears to have boosted interest in the race; the next year, 1984, the number of participants swelled to 14,800 and even the Herrey brothers – who had won the Eurovision Song Contest the previous week – took part.

The number of entrants continued to rise steadily year after year, exceeding 30,000 for the first time in 1988!

1989 was the event’s 10th anniversary. Simon Robert-Naali from Tanzania became the first African winner of the race. The Lilla GöteborgsVarvet junior event was arranged for the first time this year.

We now jump forward to 1994 – the 15th year of the event – when GöteborgsVarvet was named one of the world’s ten best long-distance races by the influential American magazine Runner’s World.

2002 saw the first Swedish winners in more than a decade. In fact, both the men’s and ladies’ classes were won by Swedes. Lena Gavelin took the ladies’ title, and local hero Mustafa Mohamed was the surprise men’s champion. The following year, 2003, marked a new record for the number of finishing runners, and the Lilla GöteborgsVarvet became Sweden’s biggest junior race.

The event celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2009. Over 53,000 runners had already registered by the previous November. The number of bands playing at various points around the course rose from 35 to 50. At Slottsskogen Park, a new world record was set for the number of simultaneous ukulele players – a fact which was even mentioned by the BBC. More than 40,000 runners completed the race, making it the world’s biggest half marathon.

2012 GöteborgsVarvet was a real speed fest! The event was broadcast live on Swedish television, and viewers saw Kenya’s Victor Kipchirchir smash the previous record with an incredible time of 1:00:25. Isabellah Andersson set a new Swedish record of 1:10:30. 44,828 runners started, and a record 44,099 crossed the finish line!

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GöteborgsVarvet is organised by Gothenburg Athletics Association for the benefit of sports activities in the region. Approximately 4,000 officials are involved. Profits go straight back to the association, and are invested in youth activities and running the Friidrottens Hus sports hall.