What are the Broarna Runt races?

The 59th year of Skellefteå's beloved Broarna Runt (the Bridges Run races) kicked off last night, April 9, so let's take a look back at how this quintessential springtime Skellefteå tradition came to be.

Start of a run at Broarna Runt 2011.

Start of a run at Broarna Runt 2011.

Foto: Thommy Ekefjärd

Terränglöpning2024-04-10 09:00

The Lejonström Bridge, built in 1735, and the Parkbron's inauguration in 1913 opened the door for running competitions around these bridges. Skellefteå Sports Association, founded in 1918, seized the opportunity, advertising Sunday morning running training sessions at 9 am. The first training competition, possibly the first organized running event in Skellefteå, took place on April 27, 1919.

Relay races became popular nationally, with participants running various distances through cities. Skellefteå's first such race took place on July 6, 1924. The 5,000 meters were divided into nine legs.

On May 13th, 1930, runners participating in the Skellefteå IF club championship for cross-country running lined up at the starting line. A striking difference from today's races is the lack of uniformity in attire. One runner, particularly noticeable in photographs, stands out for wearing a shirt and trousers with suspenders – a far cry from today's technical running gear.

The building of the Norrvalla sports complex led to the emergence of several talented Skellefteå track and field athletes. Gösta Brännström (1926-1997) stands out, winning Swedish Championship gold in the 400 meters in 1951, 1953, and 1956. In 1953, he even became the Swedish record holder at the distance.

The inaugural Broarna Runt took place on Monday, April 19, 1965. 

The most popular year was 1984 when almost 1,000 people took part in the races.

A running race from the 1930s.

During the 1990s, there was generally a declining interest in participating in running. Broarna Runt responded at the turn of the millennium, by introducing fun runs (no timing of runs) and mobile phone raffles for those who participated in all the sub-competitions.

The race is five kilometers and starts and ends at Nordanå, which means that runners cross both the Lejonströmsbron and Parkbron brudges during the race.

Norrvalla was opened in September 1935.

The fastest-ever runners are Peter Ljungholm (for men), who crossed the finish line in 14.43 in April in 1991, and Birgit Bringslid (for women) who ran the race in 16.28 in May 1980.

1966 Broarna Runt race.

A big THANK YOU to Stig Sandström, www.lokalhistoriaskelleftea.se, who has helped us produce this report