Arctic Circle Race
The toughest cross-country ski race in the world, the Arctic Circle Race is a 3-day event held in the extensive backcountry around Sisimiut. Competitors can choose the classic 160km race or the shorter 100km race, both of which traverse the same backcountry and utilise the same camps. There is also a one-day race – the Miki Race – for young adults and children.
There are several reasons this race so difficult:
- The terrain. Part of the reason the Sisimiut backcountry is so spectacular is that it’s very mountainous. Competitors must be in top shape to conquer some significant slopes.
- The weather. Greenlandic weather is notoriously changeable and what may start out as a beautiful day can quickly turn nasty. With winter temperatures of -20C or lower and even colder nights, the climate becomes a major challenge to overcome.
- The logistics. Competitors are housed in shared tents, sleep in sleeping bags, and must prepare all their own food in a communal cook tent for the duration of the race. There’s no cosy hotel or hostel to retreat to at the end of each day.
Why compete in the Arctic Circle Race
These challenges mean that the Arctic Circle Race is quite an exclusive event. There are only around 250 competitors each year, most of whom tackle the full 160km race. You have to be tough to take on this demanding competition!
But the reward is a unique experience of the magnificent Arctic Circle region backcountry where you meet a large number of locals (both competitors and volunteers) and have the chance to experience Greenlandic music, dance, and food traditions. You may even see the magical Northern Lights if you are not too tired to look up at the end of the day. You can also extend your stay to try dog sledding – the ancient Inuit form of transportation – satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie by going snowmobiling, or visit the Greenland Ice Sheet and Russell Glacier as you pass through Kangerlussuaq on your way into or out of the country.
Videos by Oscar Lange Riis Hansen – Flow Production