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Race Info

The coolest marathon on earth!

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.

A part of the route takes place on the ice sheet itself, but the main part of the course is run on the gravel road (often snow covered) that connects the ice sheet with the small township of Kangerlussuaq, just north of the Polar Circle. 

Course map

Have a look at the course map and prepare yourself for the marathon!

Race information

Age limits

To participate in the marathon, runners must be minimum 18 years of age on race day. 

To participate in the half marathon, runners must be minimum 16 years of age on race day. 

To participate in the Polar Bear Challenge, runners must be minimum 18 years of age on race day. 

Awards

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. 

Bib/start number

The bib number must be placed on the front of the body during the entire run. Bib number belts are included with the number and we recommend all runners use the belt. 

Marathon numbers are black, half marathon numbers are red, and Polar Bear Challenge numbers are ice blue. 

Clothing

The best advice is to dress in layers for this run and use functional sweat-transporting running clothes. The use of cotton clothing is NOT recommended. 

Running clothes made for winter/freezing temperatures are usually sufficient, but do bring an extra windproof layer for your legs and body in case of strong winds. 

A winter hat and gloves made for freezing temperatures are essential. A warm scarf will cover your throat and neck from the cold air. Gaiters will help your feet stay dry in case of snow on the route. 

Don’t be afraid of overdressing! You can always drop layers at the water stations if you get too warm. Remember: it is easy to cool off if too warm, but hard to get warm if too cold! 

If you plan to drop clothes at the water stations, please mark it with your name and bib number. Clothing left at the water stations will be handed out in the finish area or later on during the evening. The organisers cannot be held responsible for any lost or damaged items left along the route. 

Course map

For information on the route, start and finish lines, drinks stations and other course-related information, look at the course map

Cut-off times

The cut-off time for half marathon is 4 hours. 
The marathon cut-off time is 7 hours. 

Runners still on the route after the cut-off time will be picked up by a race official or medical car and driven back to the finish area. 

Dates

The Polar Circle Marathon takes place every year in October. The 2015 Polar Circle Marathon will take place on 24 and 25 October 2015.

Distances

The Polar Circle Marathon features a classic 42.195km marathon and a 21.097km half marathon.
Sign up for the Polar Bear Challenge and run them both.

Finish

All runners who complete their distance within the time limit will receive a medal. A small, symbolic award will be presented to the top three finishers in each race (marathon, half marathon and Polar Bear Challenge) in the male and female categories. 

A light meal is available for runners at the finish line. 

Runners still on the route after the cut off time will be picked up by a race official or medical car and driven back to the finish area. 

Medical Team

A team of Danish doctors will be present during inspection and race days. The medical team is ready in case of injury or severe exhaustion. A doctor will be present on the ice sheet as long as runners are on it. A doctor will be patrolling the route and a doctor will stand by in the finish area. If the medical team finds it necessary they can stop a runner and take him/her out of the race. Decisions on taking runners out of the race will only be done if the medical team believes there is a serious health risk in continuing. 

Do not forget to drink water before and during the race. Running in the cold will not make you feel as thirsty as in warmer climates, but the route is still 42,195/21,097 kilometres long! 

All decisions made by the medical team are final and not up for discussion.

Runners who wish to drop out of the marathon should go to the nearest drink station where sleeping bags will be available to keep you warm. Transport to the finish area will be arranged for all runners who leave the race, but please be aware there will be a waiting time. 

If you take daily medicine prescribed by your physician or need any other medication, please inform the race doctors in advance by writing to marathon@albatros-adventure.com.

Personal supplies

Personal supplies (energy gels, food, drinks, clothes, etc.) can be places at selected drink stations along the route (see the Supplies on the route section on this page).

Polar Bear Challenge

Are you as awesome in a pair of running shoes as the Arctic Circle’s biggest predator? In 2014, we introduced the Polar Bear Challenge, for the very fit (or the very brave!). Take on the challenge and run Saturday’s half marathon and Sunday’s marathon! Finish both races within the time limits and receive the Polar Bear medal in addition to the half marathon and marathon medals. 

Pre-registration to the Polar Bear Challenge is required to receive the Polar Bear medal. 

Race officials

English-speaking race officials from Albatros Adventure are in charge of the event. All decisions made by the race officials and medical team are final. This also includes removing a participant from the race.

Registration

In order to register for the Polar Circle Marathon, you must complete the online registration form on the Albatros Adventure website. Alternatively, contact on of our international travel partners for packages with flights. For more information regarding package prices and race entry fee, visit Albatros Adventure.

Route description

The marathon takes place on uneven gravel road and ice.

The run starts about 4 km from the ice sheet and follows the gravel road onto the ice sheet itself. While running on the ice sheet one be very attentive and careful, even with a thick layer of snow on top this part can still be very slippery. Due to the enormous powers of nature and the general retraction of the ice sheet, the exact distance on the ice will only be found a couple of days before the race, but a 3km loop is the aim. Because of the danger of falling into a crevasse, it is strictly forbidden to leave the marked route on the ice sheet.

Coming back up from the ice and passing the starting point you have approximately 32 kilometres left to the finish line in Kangerlussuaq. Please bear in mind that although the road is gravel, it is likely to be covered in a layer of snow. Running these remaining kilometres you will pass enormous glacier tongues and moraine plains and go through tundra and arctic desert. If you are lucky you may also see reindeer and musk oxen grazing along the route. The terrain is hilly all the way with the steepest ascents being the climb coming off the ice sheet and the approximately 75m-high climb 5 kilometres before the finish line. From the ice sheet to the finish line, however, the route has an overall descent of approximately 500 metres.

The marathon finish line is located in front of Polar Lodge in the northern part of Kangerlussuaq.

The half marathon finish line is located at Long Lake, just before Sanddrift Valley.

Please note that the route description is subject to change according to the forces of nature.

Do not forget that this is first and foremost an adventure. We are far away from comforts of home and this makes it impossible to offer services at the same level usually provided in city marathons.

Route logistics

Kilometre signs will be set up along the entire route. Owing to the conditions, however, they may be placed a few metres from the precise kilometre mark, so use signs for orientation only and don’t calculate your speed based on the signs. On the ice sheet, the route will be marked with poles and flags. Because of the danger of falling into a crevasse, it is strictly forbidden to leave the marked route on the ice sheet. 

Shoes

The Polar Circle Marathon can be run in a pair of normal running shoes or trail running shoes. We recommend that runners bring a pair of running spikes/anti-slip soles with carbon steel points that can be fitted to your running shoes - a definite plus when running on the ice sheet. There are many different types of anti-slip soles, but some of the most popular for this race are: Petzl Spiky, Kahtoola Microspikes and City Track Crampon. Ask your local running gear or outdoor sports shop for more details. 

Start times

The Polar Circle Marathon is scheduled to start at 8:30am on 24 October 2015. The Polar Circle Half Marathon is scheduled to start at 8:30am on 25 October 2015.  Last minute change to the start times may occur.

Supplies on the route

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. 

You can bring personal supplies and extra clothes for the race. Personal supply stations will be situated at the 10th, 21st and 30th km mark (10km mark only for the half marathon). Personal supplies must be delivered at the starting area clearly marked with the runner’s bib number and name. 

Be aware that any special supplies (gels, bars, drinks etc.) that you may need during the race should be brought from home. While sports and running shops in Copenhagen will have a variety of foods and drinks for running you will not find such items in Greenland. Be aware that gels are likely to freeze… 

There are no toilets along the route - meaning you will find a toilet everywhere… Toilet paper is available at all water stations. 

Remember that we run in wild and unspoiled nature and cups, empty bottles and other trash should be put in the litter bags at the water stations – please do not litter in nature! 

Surface

You will be running on gravel and ice (and snow depending on weather conditions). Please be aware, that even when covered by a thick layer of snow, the ice can be very slippery. 

Time taking and results

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. 

Weather conditions

The weather in Greenland is always unpredictable! 

On average we expect the temperature to be minus 15-10 degrees Celsius when the marathon is started. As the sun rises the temperature will typically rise to minus 10-5 degrees Celsius. Snow may occur, but Kangerlussuaq is known for its stable and relatively comfortable climate with little precipitation. 

Once again we stress that the weather in Greenland is unpredictable, so be prepared for even colder weather, strong winds and snow.