Polar Circle Marathon

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Polar Circle Marathon
LocationKangerlussuaq, Greenland
Event typeIce, snow, gravel road
Course recordsMen:
Greenland Martin Møller 2:53:45
Denmark Marianne Delcomyn 3:41:37
Official sitePolar Circle Marathon

The Polar Circle Marathon in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland is an annual marathon (42.195 km or 26.219 mi) that has the distinction of being situated on 66 degrees northern latitude, also known as the Polar Circle.

The Polar Circle Marathon is organized by Albatross Adventures and has been run every year since 2001. The race is far more demanding than usual marathons due to the cold weather and slippery surfaces on portions of the race that go over the actual ice cap. The temperatures generally hover around -10 to -15 degrees Celsius in October when the yearly race is held. 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. Marathoners often encounter musk oxen, reindeer and other animals inhabiting the arctic desert.


Polar Circle Marathon Greenland

The first Polar Circle Marathon was held in 2001 and has been held every year since in the month of October. It has been dubbed one of the most difficult and beautiful races on earth by a variety of magazines and blogs, including being ranked #3 in "Top 10 Insanely Hard Marathons" by TopTenz; the 2nd "Coolest Marathons in the World" by Healthy Living; and one of the "Coolest Marathon's You've Ever Heard of" by Men's Fitness.


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. The ice sheet can be very slippery and the danger of falls during this section is high. 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 3 km loop is aimed for. Because of the danger of falling into a crevasse, runners are strictly forbidden to leave the marked route on the ice sheet. Coming back up from the ice and passing the starting point, there is 32 km left to the finish line, which is in Kangerlussuaq. Running these remaining kilometers takes runners past enormous glacier tongues and moraine plains and goes through tundra and arctic desert. 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 km 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 line is located at Long Lake, just before Sanddrift Valley. The exact route description is subject to change according to the forces of nature.


Key:   Course record

Edition Year Men's winner Time (h:m:s) Women's winner Time (h:m:s)
1st 2001  Torben Nielsen (DEN) 3:16:38  Elisa Laura Aqtagkât (GRO) 3:58:13
2nd 2002  Christian Isak (DEN) 3:09:10  Sarah Linnet (DEN) 3:57:47
2003 Did not held
3rd 2005  Andrew Shaw (GBR) 2:57:19  Elisa Laura Aqtagkât (GRO) 4:07:26
4th 2006  Bjarne Jensen (DEN) 4:03:23  Anna van Hees (NED) 4:45:43
2007 Did not held
5th 2008  Eduardo Rodríguez (ESP) 3:15:25  Britt Folkerman (DEN) 4:08:15
6th 2009  Francisco Sánchez (ESP) 3:14:05  Marianne Delcomyn (DEN) 3:41:37
7th 2010  Jesper Rygård (DEN) 3:17:35  Maja Boe (DEN) 3:52:59
8th 2011  Torben Dahl (DEN) 3:02:57  Leah Glass (GBR) 4:18:57
9th 2012  Mark Nielsen (DEN) 3:28:25  Inge Seiding (DEN) 4:17:03
10th 2013  Ricardo Galo (POR) 3:15:04  Filipa Rosa (POR) 3:54:47
11th 2014  Norbert Zeppitz (AUT) 3:30:08  Debby Urkens (BEL) 4:11:26
12th 2015  Neill Weir (IRE) 3:17:47  Sinead Wearen (IRE) 4:28:30
13th 2016  Benedict Osborne (GBR) 3:38:43  Charlotte Olavsgård (DEN) 4:25:51
14th 2017  Felix Allen (GBR) 3:22:36  Inez-Anne Haagen (NED) 3:46:06
15th 2018  Martin Møller (GRL) 2:53:45  Louise Petersen (GRL) 4:14:51


External links[edit]