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Polar Circle Marathon 2015

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Polar Circle Marathon 2015

Combine a unique arctic race with a visit to remote Greenland. 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 arctic tundra of this vast country make up the backdrop of this unusual race. Runners pass glacier tongues, moraine landscapes and the soundless, arctic desert. This is a rare opportunity to visit one of the most remote corners of the world combined with a unique race.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark

Trip highlights

  • Experience the remote beauty of Greenland
  • Run through arctic tundra, past glacier tongues, lakes and rivers
  • Part of the race takes place on the Greenland Ice Sheet
  • Run the marathon, half marathon or both!


Day 1 - Thursday 22 October: Copenhagen - Kangerlussuaq.

All participants meet at Terminal 2 in Copenhagen Airport and receive race packs that provide information about the upcoming days and race. We proceed to check-in after meeting the group.

A 5hr flight will bring us to Kangerlussuaq where we arrive in the morning, local time (GMT –3 hours). 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, is approximately 500 people.

Upon our arrival we check in at Polar Lodge, Old Camp or Hotel Kangerlussuaq. The tour leaders will give a brief welcome before participants staying at Hotel Kangerlussuaq depart for the route
inspection – one of the highlights of the tour.
Participants staying at Polar Lodge and Old Camp can go on one of the optional excursions (see details further down) that will be offered today, 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 2-3 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 the tour leaders will try to find an alternative route at a lower level.

The route inspection is heading 35km east of the airport to Point 660 from 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, hiking or winter boots, hat and gloves are essential.

The route inspection is also an opportunity for participants who are not running to take part in the excursion to the ice cap. We drive in large all-terrain vehicles, which will take us through the wide Sanddrift Valley along Watson River. Not far from Kangerlussuaq we pass by the golf course and the 400m-high cone-formed hill, Suger Loaf. We continue through the fantastic landscape of lakes, fertile moor and dense scrub. Once in a while it is replaced by 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 past 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 clear air and listen to the deafening silence. You suddenly realise that Greenland is in a category by itself.

In the evening dinner is served at Hotel Kangerlussuaq.

A meal onboard the flight, a sandwich lunch and dinner are included today.

Day 2 - Friday 23 October: Route inspection and Kangerlussuaq excursions

Today, participants staying at Polar Lodge and Old Camp will depart for the route inspection in the morning. 
Participants staying at Hotel Kangerlussuaq can go on one of the optional tours offered, follow the tour leader on a hike to Mount Hassel or simply explore the area on their own.

In the late afternoon an information meeting about Ilulissat will take place for participants who have booked the extension to Ilulissat. Following this meeting all runners gather at Hotel Kangerlussuaq for the race briefing where the race officials and medical team will give the final information briefing 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 late registration to the Polar Bear Challenge after the marathon race on Saturday.

*Both full and half marathons are each limited to 140 runners, so change of distance and registration for the Polar Bear Challenge is due to availability and on a first come, first served basis.

After the race briefing a pasta dinner is served at Hotel Kangerlussuaq. 

Breakfast, sandwich lunch, and pasta dinner are included today.

Day 3 - Saturday 24 October: Marathon race day

At 7:00 in the morning marathon and Polar Bear Challenge runners drive to the starting point near the inland ice, once again using allterrain vehicles to get there. The marathon is scheduled to start at 8:30 and have a time limit of 7 hours. More information about the race can be found on the Race Information page.

The marathon finish line will be located in front of Polar Lodge. From here runners staying at Polar Lodge and Hotel Kangerlussuaq can walk to their rooms while a bus will take runners staying at Old Camp 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 12:00 and 15:30.

Half marathon runners and non-runners can spend the day exploring the area on their own or go on an optional tour. You can also attend a lecture by your tour leader on Greenland – its nature,
culture and history, before heading to the finish line to cheer on the runners. If you are not running it is not possible to go to the start line to cheer, as all the all-terrain vehicles are in use.

In the evening a semi-pasta dinner is served at restaurant Roklubben.

Breakfast, BBQ lunch, and semi-pasta dinner are included on this day.

Day 4 - Sunday 25 October: Half marathon race day

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 and have a time limit of 4 hours. More information about the race can be found on the Race Information page.

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.

In the finish area a light lunch will be provided.

Full marathon runners and non-runners can spend the day exploring the area on their own or go on an optional tour. You can also attend a lecture by your tour leader on Greenland – its nature, culture and history, before heading to the finish line to cheer on the runners. If you are not running it is not possible to go to the start line to cheer, as all the all-terrain vehicles are in 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 a (hopefully) northern lights lit sky gets started.

Breakfast, and celebration dinner are included today. In addition, participants running the half marathon have a post-race meal included.

Day 5 - Monday 26 October: Farewell Greenland

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). Once again please note that we do not recommend same day connections from Copenhagen due to the late arrival from Greenland and the fact that luggage can’t be checked in all the way.

Again it is possible to book post nights at Grand hotel in the city centre.

Breakfast and a meal onboard the flight is included today.


Race packages include:

  • English-speaking race officials
  • Medical team
  • Time keeping
  • Transport to the starting point
  • Manned drink stations including safety equipment
  • Start number, medal, running T-shirt

Price includes:

  • Flight Copenhagen-Kangerlussuaq t/r with Air Greenland
  • Flight and airport taxes
  • English-speaking tour leader
  • 4 nights at your chosen hotel
  • Meals according to itinerary
  • Route inspection to the ice sheet

Price excludes:

  • International flights to/from Copenhagen
  • Meals not stated in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses
  • Cancellation insurance due to illness or injury prior to departure
  • Travel and health insurance (we strongly recommend you to take out sufficient insurance)
  • Accommodation in Copenhagen
  • Additional tours and excursions
  • Personal expenses
  • Beverages
  • Everything not listed under the ‘price includes’ list

Accommodations Provided in the Package:

Old Camp
Ulo building
Shared double room - Rs. 1,18,000
Single room supplement - Rs. 12,000 Extra

Qajak/Tuukkaq buildings
Shared double room - Rs. 1,25,000
Single room supplement - Rs. 12,000 Extra

Polar Lodge
Shared double room - Rs. 1,33,000
Single room supplement - Rs. 12,000 Extra

Hotel Kangerlussuaq
Shared double room - Rs. 1,50,000
Single room supplement - Rs. 24,000 Extra

How to get there

Getting there

All participants will meet at 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.

As check in closes one hour before departure we therefore strongly recommend that you do not book same day connection, but instead arrive in Copenhagen one or more days in advance. Pre-package nights can be booked in Copenhagen at Grand Hotel located in the city centre, less than a 5 minute walk from Copenhagen Central Station, which again is only a 15-min train ride from the airport.

Getting away

Arrival in Copenhagen in the evening (CET). Once again please note that we do not recommend same day connections from Copenhagen, due to the late arrival from Greenland and the fact that luggage can’t be checked in all the way. It is possible to book post nights in the city centre.

Practical information

Room Options

If you are a single traveller and choose a shared double room when booking, we will pair you with another traveller of the same gender. If you prefer to have your own room, choose single room. A single supplement will apply.


If you come from a country with visa requirement to Denmark, you must have a visa that is also valid for entry into Greenland:

A normal visa to enter Denmark or another Schengen country is not valid for entry into Greenland, you must add travelling to Greenland to your Schengen visa application. Greenland is not a member of the EU and is not party to the Schengen Agreement. If you do not need a
visa to enter the Schengen area, you do not need a visa to enter Greenland.

Find out whether citizens of your country need a visa to enter the Schengen area (a new window will open).

In general, if you qualify for a Danish visa, you also qualify for a visa to enter Greenland. The application procedure for visas to enter Greenland is the same as for a Danish visa. If you are seeking to obtain a visa to enter Greenland, as well as a Schengen visa, you only
need to submit a single application.

Visas to enter Greenland are issued by Danish diplomatic missions abroad or the Danish Immigration Service.

Find your nearest embassy or consulate (a new window will open).

If you entered Denmark on a visa or resident permit issued by another Schengen country:

You must apply for a visa to enter Greenland before you arrive in Denmark. In certain cases, the Immigration Service or the police can issue a permit if you are already in Denmark.
In such cases, you must declare the purpose of your visit to Greenland, possess a ticket or other documentation for the planned trip and state why you did not apply for a visa before entering Denmark.

Age Limit

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. 


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. 


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.


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


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.


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

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 marathon and Sunday’s half 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.

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.

- See more at:

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. 


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! 


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.