Anne asked how the 10K I ran last week in Sweden was different from the US. I was kind of curious too, which is one reason I wanted to run it. So based on my vast experience running internationally (twice so far), here's what I observed that was different:
1. The Swedes were fast! I was hoodwinked by this pic on their brochure of families and little kids running, because they must have run the 3.4K instead. The 10K was stocked with serious runners that all took off in a flash from the start. I came in at about my normal time, which is usually in the 30-40th percentile in the US, but I was past the 75th percentile in Sweden. :-(
2. No t-shirts, but I did get a souvenir coin at the finish
3. Gigantic race bibs, easily twice the size as ours
4. Race start at high noon, on a Sunday
5. No chip timing, although someone recorded our times manually
6. Almost everyone belonged to a running club
7. Race volunteers shouting encouragement in Swedish sounds just like what you expect to hear in a rowdy beer hall!
It was a fun experience, and I hope to have more, but I'm also glad to be back in the U.S. of A.