Polar Circle Marathon
26 October 2019
Combine your visit to remote Greenland with a unique arctic race. Run on the vast ice sheet and experience breathtaking polar landscapes in this challenging running event.The Polar Circle Marathon - often referred to as “the coolest marathon on earth” takes place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. The endless ice and snow of this vast country make up the backdrop of this unusual race, in which runners pass glacier tongues, moraine landscapes and soundless, arctic desert. This is a rare opportunity to visit one of the most remote corners of the world combined with a challenging running event.The Polar Circle Marathon is a classical 42.195 km marathon, which however has the very untraditional feature that it is situated on 66 degrees northern latitude - also known as the polar circle. This means that the temperatures are relatively low (probably around -10 degrees Celsius in the autumn, when the race is taking place).A part of the route takes place on the slippery ice cap itself, but the main part of the course is run on the gravel road (often snow covered) that connects the inland ice with the small township of Kangerlussuaq, just north of the Polar Circle.In 2014, the half marathon and marathon were held on separate days, giving runners the opportunity to run them both and complete the Polar Bear Challenge.
The marathon takes place on uneven gravel road and ice. The run starts about 4 km from the inland ice and follows the gravel road on to the ice cap. While running on the ice cap one should be very attentive and careful, even with a thick layer of snow on top this part can still be very slippery. Because of the danger of falling into a crevasse, it is strictly forbidden to leave the marked route on the inland ice. The route on the ice is a loop of approximately 2-3 km – because of the enormous powers of nature and the general retraction of the ice cap the exact distance will only be found a couple of days before the race and may also be affected by the amount of snow on the ice. Coming back up from the ice and passing the original starting point you have approximately 32 km left to the finish line in Kangerlussuaq. Please bear in mind that although the road is gravel, it is likely to be covered by a layer of snow. Half marathon runners start from the same point and at the same time as the full marathon runners. The half marathon runners also run the loop on the ice cap and their finish line is located after the respective 21.1 km. In the half marathon finish area a heated bus will take all half marathon participants back to Kangerlussuaq when the last half marathon runner has crossed the finish line. The terrain is hilly all the way with the steepest ascends being the climb coming off the ice cap and the approximately 75 meters high climb 5 kilometers before the finish line. From the ice cap to the finish line, however, the route has an overall descent of approximately 500 meters.
Ice as far as the eye beholds. Impossibly beautiful, blue skies. Incredibly fresh air. Musk oxen and arctic foxes on the stark landscape of the arctic tundra. Yes, we are in one of the most remote corners of the world: Greenland. Feel the soft crunch of snow beneath your shoes while running through the arctic desert and Greenland ice cap and immerse yourself in this rare and exceptional natural beauty. This will undoubtedly be the coolest experience of your life. The marathon course takes the runners over the permanent, 3 km thick ice cap and through tundras, moraine landscapes, glaciers, among other outstanding nature sceneries. The wildlife that marathoners may encounter is musk oxen, reindeer and other animals inhabiting the arctic desert.
There will be water supplies approximately every 5 kilometres. All drink stations serve water (warm) and at selected stations you will also receive warm elder flower cordial, and energy drink and bars.
A light meal is available for runners at the finish line.
All finishers receive a medal. A small, symbolic prize is given to the top three of both distances for men and women. Please note that there is no prize money.
The races will be timed by Ultimate Sport Service using AMB timing chips. The AMB chip is attached to the ankle and will record each runners net finishing time. The chip will be re-collected at the finish line. In the evening of each race a complete result list is expected to be ready. There are no age categories.
The marathon cut-off time is 7 hours.