When you watch documentaries about voyaging to the Arctic Circle, they’re exaggerating. All you have to do to get there is get on a nice modern jet in Bergen, Norway, have a snack and a cocktail, and in an hour and a half, you see this:
Leslie and her brother Jason had been talking for years about taking a trip to Norway to meet some of their long lost relatives.
We finally made it happen and then, per usual, I hijacked the trip and made everyone take an excursion to Tromsø, in the Artic Circle, to run the Midnight Sun Marathon. It’s no misnomer. It stays light in Tromsø 24 hours a day this time of year. And the race was timed so that runners finished right around midnight – 12:11:55 in my case, to be precise. Here’s me after the finish, all nicely lit, with flattering, soft, natural light coming from the actual sun:
I know what you’re thinking. “Were you able to find a pre-race chicken parm? And what time of day did you eat it?” The answer is, no. Tromsø doesn’t have a single Bertuccis. So, the night before the race (in flagrant violation of my usual “no new equipment on race day” rule), I had this for dinner:
Reindeer with lingonberry. Pretty good. Tasted like chicken. For my last pre-race meal, in the afternoon, I thought a shitty pub grub sandwich would hit the spot. So we wandered into O-Leary’s, which turned out to be not just an Irish pub chain, but an Irish pub chain with a Boston theme, and with this picture of my office building next to our booth:
Yup, you can travel to the Artic Circle, 3,388 miles from home, and still have your office staring accusingly at you while you try to enjoy lunch.
When people talk about Norway, it’s always about fjords and ocean and snowcapped mountains and bla bla bla. What you never hear about is the insane tunnels. Tunnels are everywhere, and they’re long and curvy, and they have tunnel intersections and tunnel rotaries, and you can take wrong turns and accidentally end up in tunnel parking garages. Here’s a picture of, what?, your friend Lars’ parking spot in the garage under his apartment? Nope. It’s the entrance to the main highway tunnel that goes to the Tromsø airport.
And here’s me and our pimped out Hertz rental car Volvo in another tunnel, feeling like some kind of James Bond supervillan self-parking in his evil secret lair.
The marathon was amazing. There were spectators all along the course, all shouting “heia heia heia” ([pronounced Hi’ ya Hi’ ya Hi’ ya, or hiya hiya hiya]), which, I assume, means something like “go go go” but, for all I know, could really mean “blow me blow me blow me!” The course looked like this:
It rained throughout the entire race. And it was cold enough that I didn’t sweat at all. At the end of the race, after four hours of being soaked by pristine, naturally filtered glacial fjord water, I could have wrung out my underwear into a bottle and sold it for $6 at a luxury spa. My post-marathon crotch smelled like a fresh Arctic summer breeze. Here’s what my underwear looked like at the end of the race:
Just kidding. That’s a sculpture right outside our hotel, of a man wearing nipple guards, which is obviously very good luck before a race. Nice attention to detail.
We had an amazing trip. Here’s the money shot – me modeling my new wicking race shirt, from a hike near Tromvik, 20 miles past nowhere:
Now it’s back to work, back to reality, and back to trying to figure out how to contest this bullshit 600 Norwegian Krone parking ticket, which, if I don’t pay in three weeks, will also accrue a $35 surcharge from Hertz.