The Women’s Run, sponsored by insurance company Sjóvá and the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland (ÍSÍ), will take place for the 20th year in a row tomorrow. It is always held close to June 19, Women’s Day in Iceland.
“It is quite unique how widespread and popular the Women’s Run is. We estimate that 56 percent of women in Iceland have participated at some point,” Jóna Hildur Bjarnadóttir, manager of ÍSÍ’s public sports division, told Morgunbladid.
The Women’s Run has grown in volume since it was first held. In 1990, around 2,500 participants ran in eight places in the country. This year, it takes place in 90 locations across the country. “We hope for at least 20,000 participants,” Bjarnadóttir said.
The Women’s Run is not limited to Iceland, though; Icelandic women and their friends in 16 places around the world also participate in the run on this day.
This year the run is held in cooperation with the Icelandic Cancer Society. The theme is “Participate – for Your Health” and is intended to raise awareness of the importance of preemptive measures in a healthy lifestyle and remind women to have regular checkups at the society’s search center.
To highlight the value of exercise, Sjóvá will provide all participants between 18 and 55 with free life insurance worth ISK 1 million (USD 7,800, EUR 5,600) for one year.
“The run has always had the goal to encourage women to exercise. We have never timed the race—victory lies in participating,” Bjarnadóttir explained. “It is amazing to experience the power that lies in togetherness and to run with all these women.”
Bjarnadóttir asks women who have participated from the start to contact her because they will be presented with a special award.
Among these women are mother and daughter Helga Bergmann and Borghildur Anna Jónsdóttir who have participated every year despite disability and old age.
Bergmann has been in a wheelchair since she suffered a hemorrhage in 1993, and her mother, who is 81, still moves like a teenager.
“I’m a member of ‘Gönguhrólfar’—a walking group for senior citizens, I practice line dancing and boccia, go swimming and walk a lot, of course,” Jónsdóttir said.
“Mom is amazing,” Bergmann, her daughter, commented. She explained there is no problem for her to participate in the run despite her being in a wheelchair.
“The chair can go up to a speed of 15 kilometers per hour in the right conditions, but I won’t risk the lives of any runners by speeding,” Bergmann laughed.
On June 19, 1915, Icelandic women aged 40 and older were given the right to vote and to run for parliament. Since then the day has been celebrated as Women’s Day in Iceland.