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Midnattsloppet since 1982

The Midnight Race started for the first time in 1982 and was then, as it is now, held in Södermalm in Stockholm. The idea for Midnattsloppet was born from some Hammarby supporters who were out on a training run in the late 1970s. The Rio Carnival served as inspiration and the idea was to combine sports and culture and to let different generations meet in a natural way.

What makes Midnattsloppet exciting and unique is the late start time, the activity areas: with samba, music, sound, and light. Participants, spectators, and officials all help to create the special atmosphere and ambience that occurs on a Midnattsloppet evening. We promise that you will not find the same feeling at any other event.

Midnattsloppet is one of the largest and most popular races in the Nordic region with approximately 50,000 registered participants annually.

Midnattsloppet History

Few probably believed when Midnattsloppet started in 1982 that it would develop to be loved far beyond Stockholm, and the borders of Södermalm. The idea for Midnattsloppet was born from some Hammarby fans from Stockholm who were out on a training run in the late 70s. The Rio Carnival served as a model and the idea was based on combining sports and culture and allowing different generations to meet in a natural way.

A better place to organize such an event than on Södermalm could hardly be found! Here is the special Hammarby spirit and people who know how to invite to a party!

Forty years later, Midnattsloppet is also held in Helsinki and Malmö. Common to these races is that the course measures 10 km or 5 km in the middle of the city, with samba and entertainment along the entire course, and the asphalt guarantees that we run on the street. In total, about 2,000 officials and a number of partners are involved, all ensuring that Midnattsloppet maintains its position as the most fun race to participate in.

What makes Midnattsloppet exciting and unique is the late start time, the surrounding activities for participants and spectators, and above all the atmosphere and ambience that occurs on a Midnattsloppet evening. We promise that you will not find the same feeling at any other event.

On this website, you will find information about the various Midnattsloppet that we hope will create curiosity and interest in wanting to participate. Whether as a participant or spectator, you decide, but we want everyone to join the party!

Very welcome!

Meet two fire souls

Midnattsloppet didn't create itself. Meet two of the people behind the scenes who have been part of the organizing team for 40 years!

A Speaker and a Starter. An Enthusiast and an Organizer. Willy Berggren and Ingvar Åström have been there since the start of the Midnattsloppet  in 1982.

– Sometimes when we look out over the sea of starters today, we can nudge each other and note: It was us who started this.

Chaos behind the scenes became a media success
From 2,852 starting runners in the debut year of 1982 to 42,000 registered runners in 2014, the somewhat incredible development of the race on the streets of Södermalm under the auspices of Hammarby IF. A 35-year-old event with a history full of stories. Willy and Ingvar are two who can tell them. Willy, who has had the role of announcer for all these years, and Ingvar, who year after year has lifted the starting gun and sent wave after wave of runners off into the Southern night. A story that could have come to an abrupt end on that first August evening in 1982.

– We hadn’t thought much about details like needing power for the sound system. But then one of us saw a man dragging two suitcases: Do you live here? we asked. He did, so we got power from his apartment. After just a few minutes, it went out again. It turned out it was a hot dog vendor who had simply stolen the power. But we solved it.

The inaugural round also had rain on the schedule. This caused problems because the bibs had a strip that had to be taken off and placed on a nail board at the finish line.

– But it rained and those strips didn’t work at all. There were long queues after the finish line, which is not ideal, Willy notes.

In other words, there was more or less chaos behind the scenes, but despite everything, it worked, and the day after brought a real joyous shock.

– The media, led by DN, described it all as a great success and a fun and new event in Stockholm. It felt fantastic.

A race with as many stories as passionate souls
For a couple of years, carnival parades were held before the race. A large grandstand was built on Hornsgatan. One year, a giant balloon representing the Globe was part of the parade and was inflated with the help of special vacuum cleaners on Kanalplan for two hours. It cost 40,000 and six hockey players were engaged to carry it.

– At the time they were about to pass us, we warned in the speakers: “Here comes soon Stockholm’s pride, the fantastic Globe..”

But when they turned onto Hornsgatan, something else appeared: A Pizza. A rather bubbly and shaky one since there was only a little air left here and there. It turned out that the hockey guys couldn’t quite handle it, and the balloon got stuck on the fence around Kanalplan and the air started to leak out.

The first ten years revolved entirely around volunteer efforts. And that applied to the cleanup as well. Willy remembers one year after the “after party” was at Zinkensdamm. The grass area was completely covered with cigarette butts, I think I picked up 5,000 butts that day.

Organizing a large event has also required cooperation with the police.

– I remember a woman who called me, she absolutely wanted us to stop the race so she wouldn’t be disturbed. I pointed out, of course, that it wasn’t possible because it was such a large operation. Then she threatened to go to the police with the matter. Yes, you can do that, but they are probably busy because the entire police leadership is running the race.

Participant shirt and runner’s oath
Music experiences have been a part of Midnattsloppet from the very beginning. Many famous artists, a lot of samba, and a number of gospel singers and others have followed the runners over the years. The organizers of Midnattsloppet have never been afraid of changes and new things.

– We have been pioneers in many ways, and we are proud of that, says Ingvar Åström.

One year, the runners’ first names were on the bibs, a success among runners and spectators, a few years later the opposite began, everyone got the same color on the functional shirts. It was the first year with a yellow anonymous sea of people. Still a success among runners and spectators. And the common shirts have persisted, only the colors change.

– The runner’s oath is another thing. That everyone stops, raises their fists, and swears the oath. And the runner’s singing of “Just today I am strong” just before the start is not exactly common either, says Ingvar Åström.

They are filled with stories, but for the two of them, it’s not just about nostalgia. Midnattsloppet is a living entity, and they are still fully active in the development of the race.

They talk about Midnattsloppet 2.0, a development that began in the mid-2000s, which also led to Midnattsloppet becoming its own company in 2010.

– Since then, the focus has been entirely on the runners’ experiences, not primarily on the audience’s. It has been a healthy development, and the audience has not decreased because of it, note Willy Berggren and Ingvar Åström.

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