A very dashing Norwegian

Victoria Hofmo interviews Annette Orre, NYC Marathon finisher

Photos courtesy of Annette Orre Annette poses with her medal after completing the New York City Marathon.

Photos courtesy of Annette Orre
Annette poses with her medal after completing the New York City Marathon.

Victoria Hofmo
Brooklyn, N.Y.

The New York City Marathon passes directly in front of my apartment building door in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. It’s perhaps the best place to experience the race, as the runners are fresh and the road is narrow. It is wonderful to come cheek-to-jowl with the thousands of runners from countries as far flung as Kenya and Korea.

My Norwegian flag is joined by others from Puerto Rico, Brazil, and yes, even America. A four-year-old girl tenderly holds a homemade sign that reads, “Good luck daddy,” and an out of town mother waits eagerly to snap a photo of her marathon-running daughter. We (that is, me and the other sedentary bystanders) cheer, encourage by shouting the athletes’ names and countries, high five, and bear the marathon’s coldest temperature in almost two decades, enhanced by intermittent wind gusts of up to 40 mph. And, yes we the lazy ones are frequently thanked by the runners.

Photos courtesy of Annette Orre It was very cold the morning of the race, but runners and onlookers alike braved the weather.

Photos courtesy of Annette Orre
It was very cold the morning of the race, but runners and onlookers alike braved the weather.

One of the highlights is seeing the runners in crazy garb: Aztec Warriors, Wonder Woman, and kangaroos all ran this year. One man is juggling three red balls and another is dribbling two basketballs as they breeze by. A French couple is avidly kissing a group of unknown onlookers.
This year, almost every country in the world is represented. Of course this includes Norway, which had approximately 20 runners. I thought it would be interesting to interview a Norwegian participant and ask what it was like to run in this challenging course. Annette Orre was kind enough to oblige. She works full-time as the Communications Manager for the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in New York and is the mother of two young boys.

Victoria Hofmo: Where are you from in Norway?
Annette Orre: I’m from Orre, a tiny village on the southwest coast (30 km from Stavanger).

VH: How long have you been running?
AO: I have been running on and off (mostly off) for a couple of years, but started training for this race in February this year.

VH: What about the sport appeals to you?
AO: Being a mother of two little boys, going for a run is a very welcome opportunity to have some alone time, to listen to a podcast, music, or just think. I was offered an open space, and decided to sign up after a rather unsuccessful attempt to run 5 km when my youngest son was six or seven weeks. I also decided to tell everyone I knew immediately, to ensure that there would be no way out without losing face. And yes, I regretted that decision quite a few times over the next nine months.

VH: How did you train to prepare yourself for this marathon?
AO: Way less than I had planned. With a full-time job and a baby who gets up at 5:00-6:00 a.m. and a son who just started kindergarten, it has been hard to find time to run during the day or afternoon. But I tried to put down three runs a week, too often, unfortunately, indoors and after 8:30 p.m.

VH: Have you ever run in a marathon before?
AO: No, this was my first.

VH: What did you eat the night before the run and the morning of the run?
AO: Pasta and Norwegian chocolate (Firkløver) the night before, oatmeal with almonds and berries, an apple, a banana, and a little more Norwegian chocolate on the morning of the race.

VH: What challenges did you face during the run?
AO: I tripped and fell after approximately 200 meters on the Verrazzano Bridge, possibly out of sheer joy and excitement. The first half of the race was amazing, then both my legs started cramping entering Queeensborough Bridge, and kept doing so for the rest of the marathon.

VH: What was it like to run in New York? How did those watching respond?
AO: Amazing! It made me love the city even more, most of all because of the spectators and the volunteers! Waiting in the cold for hours to cheer enthusiastically for every runner, they make this day so special.

VH: Could you describe some highlights?
AO: Many highlights! Like receiving a video message from my husband and sons Olav and Peder cheering only minutes before the start, sharing a coffee and a banana with my friends in the freezing Staten Island cold at 6:30 a.m., the adrenalin and outburst of joy when thousands of runners crossed the Verezzano bridge in the morning sun, seeing Fifth Avenue filled with spectators and runners—wow! And of course, hearing someone say, “There’s only 200 meters left.”

VH: Is there anything you’d like to add?
AO: I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year!

And we Norwegians in Brooklyn can’t wait to cheer you on.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 14, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.