By Jonathan Gault
March 28, 2019
THE 9:52 TRAIN FROM COPENHAGEN TO AARHUS — Greetings from Denmark!
LetsRun.com has boots on the ground, and with two journalists and, for the first time, two athletes (that’s right; news on the identity of #2 coming soon), LRC officially has more representation at World XC than most of the countries of Europe.
As I type this, I’m on a train en route from Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen to its second-largest city, Aarhus, site of the 2019 World Cross Country Championships. After spending the past few weeks salivating over the course, I’m finally going to get to see it in person this afternoon, and I couldn’t be more excited.
But before that, I figured I’d share a quick update on our travels so far. I’m in Denmark with LRC co-founder Weldon Johnson, and once we get to Aarhus, we’ll rendezvous with Kelsey Bruce and our Mystery Man, both of whom will be running for LRC in the pro race on Saturday.
Weldon and I both arrived into Copenhagen on Wednesday morning, and evidently Scott Simmons — coach of five of the six members of the US men’s team — was on one of our flights because he was the first person I saw at baggage claim at the airport. Weldon joked that we can’t be too friendly with Simmons now that we’re coaching rivals, but he did tell us that his guys don’t plan on checking out the course until Friday — the day before the race.
The journey to our apartment was not particularly exciting, but gave us an insight into a few cultural differences. After getting on the right train from the airport (we almost boarded one bound for Sweden), I was immediately struck by one thing. See if you can figure it out from the photo below:
Yup, those are reserved spaces because biking is huge in Copenhagen. The bike lanes in the city are massive, and you’ve got to keep your head on a swivel while crossing the street. The roads weren’t super busy, but we didn’t see anyone jaywalking as you never know when a bike might speed past you. Of course that didn’t stop us, as impatient Americans, from jaywalking anyway.
Our apartment itself was in a very nice spot, right next to the Tycho Brahe Planetarium and the man-made St. George’s Lake.
So imagine our surprise when we arrived and noticed that our neighbors were offering “totally nude cabaret.”
We suppressed the urge to investigate further and went inside our apartment instead, which featured an old-timey elevator. We were on the fifth floor, so we made ample use of it.
After a quick nap, we decided to check out the city the best way we knew how: by running. What ensued was a self-guided “tour” of the city that mostly consisted of us running by a landmark and then stopping for a few minutes as we tried to figure out exactly what it was.
We did this a lot, because in case you didn’t know, Copenhagen is gorgeous. We lost track of the number of beautiful old buildings that we passed on our run (we didn’t see a single skyscraper). Tivoli — which, at over 175 years old, is the second-oldest amusement park in the world and is located in the heart of the city — looked amazing, even if we couldn’t actually go inside (it doesn’t open for the season until next week). Nyhavn, a restaurant-lined canal with houses painted in all sorts of colors, looked like somewhere I’d definitely revisit before departing (I convinced the Brojos to let me stay in Copenhagen for a few extra nights after World XC; suggestions welcome!).
We also ran through the grounds of two palaces. The first was Christiansborg, which holds the Danish parliament, prime minister’s office, and Supreme Court — the only building in the world to feature all three of a country’s branches of government. It’s also the site of the Royal Stables, and the biggest horse statue I’ve ever seen.
The second was Amalienborg, home of the Danish royal family and patrolled by the Royal Guard, the Danish equivalent of the Beefeaters.
We finished up at the Little Mermaid statue (the book’s author, Hans Christian Andersen, is from Denmark), which, if I’m being honest, was a little underwhelming. I know it’s a symbol of Copenhagen, but it wasn’t particularly large or impressive, especially compared to all the beautiful architecture we encountered on our journey to it. Even after I pointed it out to Weldon as we approached, he had trouble identifying it — from a distance, it just looks like a rock in the water, until you realize there’s a small statue on top of it (in Weldon’s defense, it was starting to get dark).
From there, we took the train (shockingly uncrowded for 7:00 p.m.) back to our apartment, headed to the restaurant downstairs (not the strip club) for dinner before recording our podcast: Episode #1 from Denmark here, and calling it a night. We’re getting close to Aarhus now, so that’s it for this installment; check back later for a course tour!