Personal data:

Name: Bjørn Gjerde
Age: 43 år
Birthplace: Omastrand in Hardanger
Lives in: Oslo
Club: IL i BUL
Profession: Veterinarian; Professor at Norges veterinærhøgskole
Personal records: Marathon: 2.34.35 (Jølster 1983).
Achievements: Running: More than 200 marathon races in 21 seasons. Most of them have been run under 3 hours. Started in Oslo Marathon in 1981 (2.41.37). Placed first in 9 marathons and many age-group victories. Cross-country skiing: Completed Birkebeinerrennet 19 times, Grenaderløpet (90 km) 15 times, 7-mila 14 times, Vasaloppet (90 km) 12 times, Nydals 50'n 12 times og Lillehammer Troll Ski Martahon (95-120 km) 5 times. Best skiing achievement probably 95'th place in Vasaloppet i 1989.

Bjørn Gjerde - marathoner on the road
(Foto: Kondis)


Bjørn Gjerde - a locomotive in Norwegian marathon courses

During the season Bjørn Gjerde participates in ca. 10 marathon races, usually finishing them well under 3 hours. In 1994 he counted 100 marathon races in Oslo, and today he has covered the distance more than 200 times. Only 17 of the marathons have been run in more than 3 hours.

What made you take up marathon running? It was the introduction of Oslo Marathon in 1981. I had been doing cross-country skiing for several years, and had participated in several forest races in the late70's, among others Nordmarkstraver'n (ca. 30 km) and Holmenkollen Rundt (ca. 42 km). In addition to this I worked with one guy who was entering this race. My first Marathon went so well that I got taste for more. Nevertheless, the first years marathon running was mainly a side-product of my training for cross-country skiing and the fact that I wanted to participate in races during the summer season.

What is your recipe for running a marathon? The most important thing is to plan the race according to your own capacity and fitness the race day, and not bother too much about competitors. I try to keep an even pace through the whole race, and I find the right starting pace by checking the first kilometer timings. I am also very concentrated during the race, and do not register too much of what is going on outside the course. In this way I can early catch signals if problems are coming up, and adjust the pace, drinking and other things accordingly. At the end of a marathon race, when one may be a bit spent, it can be advantageous to imagine the remaining distance in shorter stretches, or as one or more rounds in the training course one is used to. Nevertheless, it is not always that a marathon goes as planned.

Have you got any favorite courses in Norway? Yes, Jølster Maraton, Fjellmaraton og Hardangervidda Maraton. All these three races are very well organized, with courses in grand nature. When it comes to nature, not all runners find time to take in the impressions from the surroundings. Or as two people from Bergen expressed it on a bus to the Jølster Maraton starting line a startling day in July. A: " It's a petty one is deprived of the pretty views when one is racing." B: "But, are you running without glasses today?"

Are the arrangers in Norway good enough at promoting and arranging their races? This varies a good deal. When it comes to promotion and marketing through media, it is a bit difficult because of the minimal interest shown by journalists for road racing. In the later years several of the bigger race arrangers have been good at promoting their races through running magazines like Kondis, and through Internett. Many of the arrangements could have been better, but the opinion of what a good race arrangement is varies a good deal among the runners, depending on how good they are. Some races, in particular Oslo Maraton, has a not very inspiring course, and some have poor service at the watering stations.

Oslo Maraton -94:
Marathon no. 100 (2.56.19)
(Foto: Kondis)

The prizes are often poor, both when it comes to percentage of competitors earning prizes, and the quality of the prizes. I have absolutely no taste for light metal or serial produced medallions that many arrangers use as prizes. But there are honest exceptions, and in particular the prizes at Fjellmaraton and Hardangervidda Maraton are good. Many arrangers do not understand that good prizing is the best promotion they can get.

There seems to be fewer people participating in long distance races in Norway. Comments to possible causes? I suppose it is part of the general development in society. Fewer are active to the extent that they are able to complete long distance races. In our rich society there are few that voluntarily enter something that is tiresome and displeasing, at least without payment.

What motivates you most for running so many marathon races a year? I think it is fun to compete and measure strength with others over long distances. In addition it is enjoyable to meet other runners in connection with races.

Have you got "five good reasons" for running marathons to potential beginners? No, the most important thing is that one is active and fit. Marathon running is an exciting challenge for some, but for others it might be quite as well to compete over shorter distances.

With a thigh-bone fracture in Trolløpet i '92 you also know the injury side of long distance running. What precautions do you take to avoid injuries? I train quite varied. During summertime I change between running, mountain walking, roller skiing, and some bicycling. During wintertime I mostly do cross-country skiing. In addition I do some weight lifting for cross-country skiing in October- January. Most of my running training is on soft grounds, and I switch between different running shoes.

Do you have any ideals from the world of marathon running? Yes I have great respect for Jon Henden, whom I met many times before he died in a car accident in 1991.

1999, -is the marathon season already planned? Yes, in broad lines. The aims are to complete 11-12 marathons, and I have picked nine that are already on the calendar.

...and we wish Bjørn Gjerde good luck in the marathon courses !

ã maraton-info, 17-jan-99.
Updated 2002

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