Vår Ruset (literally "The Spring Rush" in Swedish) is an annual women’s 5k run/walk that is held across Sweden in late April/early May. The first race is held in Malmö (as we are the most southern major city) and subsequent events work their way north through the end of June. I’ve never participated before as the entrance fee is little steep for a lone student income, but this year the finances are in much better shape and it struck me as something my Mom might enjoy. She’s an avid walker (though usually she’s accompanied by her dog) and in addition to the exercise, it would be a great opportunity to socialize with some of my pals from the American Women’s Club.
So, I signed us both up on one of two teams for the AWC. The race was scheduled to occur rain or shine, and so despite the fact that it had been pouring for most of the day, we reported to the starting line at 6 p.m. as instructed. Well, somewhere *near* the starting line anyway. It was madness…a total sea of women in all shapes and sizes. We later learned that there were over 9,000 participants.
The elite runners (those who were being officially timed) had the luxury of starting at the front of the pack…everybody else went off in large groups about every 7 minutes. Walkers were advised to keep to the right along the route so that other runners could pass them easily on the left. We later learned from some fellow team members who ran it that the walkers did not always follow this rule. My friend Cheryl was pretty sure she’d covered closer to 7k once all the crowd-weaving was factored in.
Mom and I walked with my buddy Nicole, who set a pretty brisk pace when she wasn’t taking pictures. Dr. Darling served as our "support crew"…appearing at various places along the route waving a small American flag as we passed by. (Given that Dr. Darling is more often than not embarrassed by the fact that she lives with an American who socializes with other Americans on a regular basis, I was enormously touched by this public display.)
The sky cleared up enough so that we only experienced a few raindrops. The finish line was located in Malmö Stadium (cue Olympic theme here) and we were all presented with medal as we crossed it. Mom said it was her first ever medal for an athletic event (she’s still wearing it today). We were then treated to a Swedish-style picnic with our fellow team members. All in all, a great evening of exercise with friends!