Stuart Weir visited Oslo, Norway for the Bislett Games, to represent RunBlogRun. Stuart is Scottish by birth and temperment. Mr. Weir is also possessed with a wicked sense of humor. This is his first piece from Oslo, and he will be provide a second piece on the actual meet as well, plus a story on the Dream Mile.
Stu keeps me laughing, but also learning. His keen observation skills provide us, the readers, with a unique perspective on the sport we love.
This is my first visit to the Bislett Games in Oslo, in fact it is my first visit to Norway. It is a pleasant city with a small walkable city centre. The event hotel is one of the Thon chain – one of 15 Thon hotels in the city. Is this some kind of record for one hotel chain to have 15 different hotels in one city?
One thing that all the Thon hotels, and the rest of Norway for that matter, have in common is high prices. I decided against a $23 burger and a $12 glass of wine. I can’t begin to tell you how many pounds that would be in our post Brexit, post botched-General Election Britain.
One of the highlights of the week was the Strawberry Party in the City Hall to which the media were invited. There was free wine – I must have drunk $50 worth – two small glasses. I was welcomed by the Mayor of Oslo who made a long speech to welcome us. Some of my colleagues found it boring – I could not possibly comment. The event took place in the very room where the Nobel Prizes are given out.
I had an interesting chat with Edwin Moses who was a guest of the event. He was an interesting conversationalist until he found someone more important to speak to and made his excuses. It happens to me a lot.
In the normal way the Diamond League programme was preceded by a normal schedule of national events. In an abnormal way, one of the events was the Junior Norwegian Snowball Championship. Yes, children (11-13 years old) throw snowballs and measure the distance to where they land. RunBlogRun commends this innovation but isn’t it a winter sport if it involves snow? For the record, Eric Becklund is the 2017 Junior Norwegian Snowball Championship with a throw of 54.79 meters. In third place and first female was Malene Storoygard with 46.19 meters.
Finally I encountered the president of the IAAF, Lord Sebastian Coe, and asked him what memories he had of the Bislett Stadium: “It is a good stadium for me – five races, five world records”, he told me, adding. “That seems a pretty reasonable strike rate. What I remember about the stadium, is something that I still recognise, that this is an incredibly knowledgeable crowd. The history of the sport is deeply ingrained in the city. Under normal conditions, when the sun sets and the summer evening closes in a little bit, you get the most perfect conditions for a middle distance race. And I had that on a number of occasions. The atmosphere in the stadium shows that the crowd senses that something special was about to happen. This stadium has very much been my home”.
I am not sure it will become my home but I hope I will be back.