The turf roof of Moesgaard Museum thumps under hundreds of mud-crusted cleats. Some of the greatest long-distance runners in the world charge forward to meet the sloped roof, brows knit and teeth bared in exhaustion, running to a thrumming chorus of cowbells and clapping. The crowd, some 10,000 in attendance, has traveled across the globe to convene on the roof and grounds of Moesgaard, bearing homemade signs and wearing national flags as capes. A tapestry of tracksuits from Canada to Ukraine bears the colors of the international affair, bringing global attention to the Danish countryside, with Henning Larsen’s museum as center stage.
On March 30th, 2019, Moesgaard Museum hosted the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, the premier competition in international cross-country running. Olympians, young stars, world champions and aspiring medalists from 67 countries came for the race, running laps through a grueling 2-kilometer circuit around the museum grounds and across the roof itself. Here, finishing first brings in $30,000 USD, as well as the regard of some as the best runner in the world. Moesgaard Museum was both stage and centerpiece to this race – From its peak, one could see the course snaking through the surrounding hills, through mud pits and switchbacks, finally looping back to the building’s base. The sloped turf roof was the gatekeeper, the defining element of a course considered by many elite runners to be the most challenging in their careers.
“I’d never raced in an event that had a building integrated into the course before, so that really made this stand out for me,” Said Mason Ferlic, who ran for Team USA in the Senior Men’s race. “Approaching the museum and having to tackle the rooftop slope each lap set the terms for the whole race. It felt like the course had a more distinct identity in some way.”
The whump of an airburst firework announced the first finisher of the day’s final race, sending a fat white cloud drifting overheard toward the nearby coastline. The IAAF Championships add a new entry to Moesgaard Museum’s long list of public appeal, its halls and grassy roof having previously hosted events from cycling races to outdoor theater and seasonal sledding. As volunteers cleared rental tents, race banners and steel railings from the museum grounds, Moesgaard deepened its roots as an integral part of the landscape and community, giving global appeal to local design.