The Polar Circle Marathon takes place on uneven gravel road and ice. It will be held on Saturday 28th October 2023 (Full Marathon) and Sunday 29th October 2023 (Half-Marathon).
The run starts about 4km from the ice sheet and follows the gravel road onto the ice sheet itself. While running on the ice sheet, one must be very attentive and careful, as even with a thick layer of show on top this section 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 crevase, 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 32km 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 galcier tongues and moraine plains and go through tundra and artic desert. If you are lucky you may 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 5km before the finish line. From the ice sheet to the finish line, however, the route has an overall descent of approximately 500m.
The marathon finish line is located in front of Polar Lodge in the northern part of Kangerlussuaq. The half-marathon finish 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 the comforts of home and this makes it impossible to offer services at the same level usually provided in city marathons.
Arrival in Copenhagen. Take a 15-minute train ride from the airport to Copenhagen Central Station, and head towards Hotel Hebron which is less than 10-minute walk from the station.
After check-in, participants can book a running sightseeing tour through the beautiful city of Copenhagen. The local running guide will take us on an 8km tour through the historical streets, and stopping at the most famous and interesting sights.
In the evening, all Polar Circle Marathon participants (runners and supporters alike) are invited to a free, informal dinner at the Albatros Travel headquarters. Tapas will be served in the canteen, where you can meet and mingle with other participants and browse exclusive offers on running clothes from their partner, Craft. If you are missing anything suitable for Greenland, this is an excellent chance to stock up. You'll receive your race packet, which will contain your start number, race shirt, and other items. Any participants who do not make it to the dinner will receive their race packets at the airport on Thursday morning.
All participants will meet at the Copenhagen Airport, Terminal 2. The flight to Greenland departs early in the morning and Air Greenland does not cooperate with other airlines, meaning you must claim your luggage at Copenhagen Airport, clear customs and check in again for the flight to Greenland (this is applicable only for participants arriving in Copenhagen today). This is a 4.5 hour flight and it will bring us to Kangerlussuaq where we will arrive in the morning, local time (GMT -3 hours). Approximately 500 people make up the permanent population of this township, which was established by the American army during the Second World War and handed over to the Government of Greenland in 1992. Upon arrival we check in at Hotel Kangerlussuaq. The tour leaders will give a brief welcome at the hotel before the optional excursions will run. If you did not book an excursion, you can follow the tour leader on a hike to Mount Hassel or simply explore the area on your own. The guided walk up to Mount Hassel is a 3-hour hike that follows the ridge eastwards towards the inland ice. The higher we go the more beautiful it gets and, weather permitting, we will have a fantastic panoramic view from the fjord to the inland ice. If there is too much snow/ice the tour leader will try to find an alternative route at a lower level. In the evening, dinner is served at Restaurant Roklubben.
Today all participants will depart for the route inspection in the morning to get an idea of the challenge it is to run on the ice cap. Non-runners will also participate in the tour and can use the day as a sightseeing trip to the Greenland Ice Sheet. The inspection tour is heading 35km east of the airport to Point 660 where participants will walk the marked route on the ice cap. Remember that this will be a cold walk in freezing temperatures and a warm winter jacket, ski pants or similar, hiking or winter boots, hats and gloves are essential. Runners may want to bring their running shoes to test run in the conditions, but it is advisable to bring other, warmer footwear too. We drive in large all-terrain vehicles, which will take us along Watson River through the fantastic landscapes varying from lakes, fertile moor and dense scrub to large stretches of dunes and rock devoid of vegetation. The road from Kangerlussuaq to the ice cap was originally built by German carmaker Volkswagen who had a testing center on the ice and needed easy access from the harbour in Kangerlussuaq to the extreme conditions on the ice cap. The testing center, however, is now closed and the road is now under the supervision of Sisimiut Municipality. The condition of the road is therefore not as good as it has been, but more like an adventure marathon route. The access to the ice cap has also declined over the years, partly because of lesser maintenance and partly because of the retraction of the ice cap over the years. Finally we arrive at the edge of the ice cap at Point 660 where we park the vehicles and walk on to the ice cap itself. It is a great experience to feel the massive cold air from the ice, taste the pure crystal air and listen to the deafening silence. You suddenly realise that Greenland is in a category by itself. In the evening all runners gather at Hotel Kangerlussuaq for the race briefing where the race officials and medical team will give the final information about the marathon and half marathon races. [If you wish to change distance or make late registration for the Polar Bear Challenge, this is also the time to do it. It is not possible to make later registration to the Polar Bear Challenge after the marathon race on Saturday). After the race briefing, a pasta dinner is served at Hotel Kangerlussuaq.
At 7:00 in the morning, Marathon and Polar Bear Challenge runners drive to the starting point near the inland ice, once again using all-terrain vehicles to get there. The marathon is scheduled to start at 8:30 am and have a time limit of 7 hours.
The marathon finish line will be located in front of Polar Lodge (another official accommodation). From here, runners staying at Hotel Kangerlussuaq can walk to their rooms. The runners will be offered water and refreshments at stations posted along the route. In the finish area a BBQ lunch will be served for all participants between 11:30 and 15:30. Half marathon runners and non-runners can spend the day exploring the area on their own, but are also encouraged to cheer on the runners at the finish line. It is not possible to go to the start line to cheer the runners off, as the all-terrain vehicles are in full use. In the evening, a semi-pasta dinner is served at Hotel Kangerlussuaq.
At 7:00 in the morning, Half Marathon and Polar Bear Challenge runners drive to the starting point near the inland ice, once again using all-terrain vehicles to get there. The half marathon is scheduled to start at 8:30 am and have a time limit of 4 hours.
At the finish line the all-terrain vehicles will be waiting to take all runners back to Kangerlussuaq as they fill up. The last vehicle departs when the last runner has finished. The runners will be offered water and refreshments at stations posted along the route. At the finish area a light lunch will be provided. Full marathon runners and non-runners can spend the day going on an optional tour or explore the area on their own. It is not possible to go to the route and finish line and cheer, as the all-terrain vehicles are in full use for the half marathon. In the evening we will celebrate the completion of the Polar Circle Marathon & Half Marathon with a festive Greenlandic dinner in Roklubben. Awards ceremony for the top three finishers in each category will also take place before the party under an (hopefully) northern lights lit night sky sets off.
After breakfast and check-out we travel back to Copenhagen. The flight leaves just before noon so we have a final opportunity to enjoy a last stroll or jog around Kangerlussuaq.
We arrive in Copenhagen in the evening (CET), and make our way to Hotel Hebron for an overnight stay.
After breakfast, explore Copenhagen on your own before heading to the airport for your flight home or other destinations.
Prices of tour packages are listed in Sin$
Below are a list of items that are included and excluded in the tour package:
Runner (Marathon/Half-Marathon) @ $ 5,050
Runner (Polar Bear Challenge) @ $ 5,220
Non-runner @ $ 4,550
Runner (Marathon/Half-Marathon) @ $ 5,880
Runner (Polar Bear Challenge) @ $ 6,060
Non-runner @ $ 5,330
Thank you very much for choosing to travel with us to the Polar Circle Marathon.
Registration is via a hard copy form.
Drop us a line at the link below, and make a request for the registration form, and more information on optional tours in Greenland.