An Arctic marathon

TEXT: SYNNE JOHNSSON | PHOTOS © EIVIND BYE

Almost as close to the North Pole as you can get, beneath Arctic mountains and surrounded by spectacular nature, Svalbard Turn arranges the world’s most northern marathon on solid ground.

It takes place in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, and the track runs through both the town and the surrounding nature. What makes it extra special is the unique wildlife that runners can experience from the track.

“The wildlife around the track is spectacular. Runners can spot eiders, Arctic foxes, reindeer and geese. Last year, there was a polar bear walking by the track two weeks before the run, so runners could see polar bear paw prints on the track,” says Silje Hagen, marathon manager. “The chances of meeting a polar bear are very slim, but we care a lot about safety so there will be armed polar bear guards around the tracks, just in case.”

Longyearbyen is situated at 78° north, and the weather conditions in June are slightly unstable. It is usually between zero and ten degrees. Fog, wind and rain are not unusual, so it is recommended that participants bring windproof clothes, hats and gloves.

The run takes place on 1 June, and runners can take part in a half or full marathon, a ten-kilometre run or a children’s run, so there are activities for every age group.

“What previous runners have appreciated is that, during the marathon, the locals actively take part in the event by, for example, selling pancakes or waffles and giving out water. It gives the visitors a unique opportunity to experience the local community,” Hagen says.

This year, Spitsbergen Marathon takes place for the 25th time. As the event gets bigger every year, this is the year to run if you prefer to take part in more intimate marathons.

www.spitsbergenmarathon.no