May is a month with an emphasis on relays, and the biggest of them all took place this week when the TINEstafetten was held throughout Norway. A record number of 104,150 athletes between the ages of 12 to 15 joined forces on Tuesday for the world's largest relay event.
The concept of the TINEstafetten is simple: teams are made up of five boys and five girls; each running a 200m leg, and it all takes place on a single day that the youngsters get as a day off from school.
Children ran at 280 athletics venues across the country, including the Bislett Stadium in Oslo where many parents, classmates and friends came to watch and cheer.
The organisation of the event, which began in 1993, is impressive, with teachers giving up their free time to select teams, supervise training and organise the competition.
European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen and Director General Christian Wirz, along with the Mayor of Oslo Fabian Stang, followed the action from the Bislett Stadium tribune.
“I would like to express my thanks to the organisers, the thousands of schools and to the club volunteers for this fantastic display of athletics, year after year,” said President Hansen.
“They show what can be accomplished through cooperation between the sport, schools and a committed partner over the past 22 years.”
Four well-known Norwegian athletes, Andreas Thorkildsen, Ezinne Okparaebo, Marit Bjoergen and Kjetil Jansrud, were also present in Oslo as team ambassadors for their respective schools. In the end Korsvoll school was the quickest team to finish their race.
This year saw a record number of runners, demonstrating the continued popularity of the TINEstafetten. This type of mass participation initiative is being encouraged in many other European Athletics Members Federations, with Estonia, Hungary and Slovenia having already launched similar concepts.
More crowds are expected in Oslo on 11 June for another celebration of athletics, this time for the 50th anniversary of the Bislett Games.