There are open water races of every distance and in every possible type of location, whether it be a lake, the sea or a river. Often you remember a particular event because the mirage of the age category podium became reality, or perhaps for the great refreshments after all the effort you put in. Sometimes they come back into mind because of the negative aspects, such as the kicks you recived at the over excited startline, the buoys that weren’t visible or just the difficulty you had in reaching the start.
The Christiansborg Rund of Copenhagen, scheduled for the last weekend of August, completely changes all of that. Registration (info on openwater.dk) might seem expensive, above the average (395 Danish krone, about 50 euro or £45) but you won’t be disappointed.
The race atmosphere is unique. In the front rows you’ll find the top international athletes (that finish the race in about twenty minutes), but in amongst the other 2000 participants you won’t feel alone – and don’t worry about being last if you are not used to competing because there will always be someone behind you. Those bringing up the rear will finish in about 60-65 minutes (the equivalent of running a marathon in a comfortable 10 hours) because the important thing in this case really is taking part.
The start and finish lines are to be found in front of the building that gives its name to the event, situated on the small island of Slotsholmen (The Castle Islet), just a stone’s throw from the port. An interesting detail: you’ll be swimming in front of the building that unites the executive, legislative and judiciary powers of Denmark, the only building that brings the three supreme powers under one roof.
The 2km course is easy to follow, clearly signaled, it is the right distance both for those who want to be at the head of the group, giving vent to their competitive side, and for those who are trying open water swimming for the first time. It seems really incredible, but through swimming you can take part in a real tourist trip along the most characteristic streets of the city of Sirenetta. You find yourself at Den Sorte Diamant (The Black Diamond), the ultra modern national library completed in 1999, you skim the edges of the Stock Exchange, you observe the 115 metre Knippel Bridge from an unusual perspective, you go past Højbro Plads, the square famous for the statue of Absalon, the warrior-bishop and you can admire the colourful buildings of Gammel Strand that transport you for a few instants into a world of fairytales. And then the home straight along the Frederiksholms canal, but here it is important to decide whether you want to concentrate on the final sprint or whether you’d prefer to lose yourself in admiration for the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
The fact that Copenhagen is an ideal city for families shouldn’t be overlooked, even if it does appear towards the top of the list of Europe’s most expensive cities. Swimmer parents, don’t be afraid to dive into the water leaving your children on their own. Here you can safely park your sleeping children’s cradles at the entrance of restaurants, or, if they’ve already reached 15 years old convince them to swim with you instead. Couples, once the race is over, can enjoy the romantic setting of the city and, why not, an unforgettable dinner in one of the many different esteemed, top quality restaurants, whilst groups of friends can celebrate until late in one of the numerous bars in the centre (obviously on foot or using public transport). Want to do something mad? Go to Copenhagen on your own, choose a hostel or a hotel in the Kongens Nytorv area (King’s Square, as that is how you will feel) that can be reached 24 hours a day by the metro underground system and emerge in the magic atmosphere of the pearl of Denmark. Enjoy the views, the sounds and the smells, often characterised by wet, damp paths due to the frequent rain. The following year you will definitely be taking a big group of companions because your stories will make everyone you know envious!