How a killing put Denmark back on the map

I can date my transition to ultra-distance running very precisely to the summer’s morning in 2002 when I stepped out of the holiday cottage in Denmark for a run and, by mistake, ended up covering more that 30 miles in one go. It had not meant to be like that – it was supposed to be just another run before lunchtime, but a wrong turn in the middle of a forest meant that not only did I miss lunch, and the guests, but I was in a pretty grim state by the time I got back.

The flat plantations of Denmark's West coast

Until recently, I have been going to Denmark almost every summer, and do not cease to marvel at how unspoilt the landscape is, even though, at times, it can appear maddeningly flat. In July and August the sun does not set until long after 10pm, and there are few greater pleasures than going for a walk in broad daylight at 4 in the morning. But Denmark seems to be curiously absent from most people’s maps. A well-travelled friend recently had to correct herself when she said that Dutch was the native language, and once you get out of Europe the peninsula gets lost somewhere between a border with Germany and a blotch of the continent that is not quite Russia.

All that is changing. For the last five nights Mrs H and I have been glued the BBC iplayer catching up on missed episodes of The Killing. And word through twitter is that everyone who has seen it is similarly spellbound.

Seven episodes in and we are none the wiser as to who the killer is, but that is not the point since it is more the manner in which the story unfolds that is so gripping. In the episode in which the spotlight fell on the victim’s father, Theis, he said fewer than 30 words in the hour he spent on screen.

As you can tell, the connection with running here is tenuous at best, but since a discussion with my US editor raised the question of whether most people actually knew where Denmark was, this seemed like an opportunity not to be missed since it was a vital element of my childhood.

The Killing is being remade for a US audience and appears to have already removed one of the great dramatic tricks of the original by filming it in daylight rather than twilight. Still, at least Denmark’s greatest modern export might no longer be thought simply to be LEGO.

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About Robin Harvie

I have been running marathons for ten years. But when I couldn't around faster than 3 hours 12 minutes, I decided to see how far I could run before I keeled over. Turns out pretty far. In September 2009 I took on the Spartathlon - 152 miles from Athens to Sparta. Non stop. Why We Run is about that journey and about why we run at all.
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