Marathon runners on the Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq for the Polar Circle Marathon

Polar Circle Marathon

Polar Circle Marathon

Annually in October

For one of the most extreme marathons on the planet, you can’t go past running over the Greenland Ice Sheet in the Polar Circle Marathon.  This 2-day event features a full marathon (42.2km) on the Saturday and a half-marathon (21.1km) on the Sunday, or sign up for both and test yourself against the hard-core Polar Bear Challenge!  Only 2542 people have finished the race since it started in 2001 (~120 competitors per year), with about 1/3rd of them tackling the back-to-back races. 

One of the Albatros Adventure Marathons events, it is held in Kangerlussuaq every October.   Runners start about 4km from the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet, follow a carefully selected route over the ice for about 3km (running spikes are mandatory for this section), and then follow the snow-covered Ice Road back to town. Half-marathoners finish half way along the road. 

Competitors on the Polar Circle Marathon near Kangerlussauq
Photo: Albatros Adventure Marathons

Aside from the unique experience of running on the ice cap, competitors pass enormous glacier tongues and moraines, and may be lucky enough to spot reindeer and musk oxen along the way. A review from one competitor commented “I have never seen that many runners take photos during an actual race.”  

It is one of the toughest marathons in the world thanks to the hilly, slippery terrain and the potential for extreme weather conditions. Runners must be well prepared with appropriate gear, but for those who participate – it really is the coolest marathon in the world.  

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