• The North Pole Marathon is run over the classic 42.195km (26.2 miles ) marathon distance.
• Competitors travel to the North Pole and run on Arctic ice floes, with 6 to 12 feet separating them from 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean
• It is the only certified marathon that is run entirely ‘on’ water, the frozen water of the Arctic Ocean
• Recognised by Guinness World Records as the Northernmost Marathon on Earth
• Dubbed the ‘World’s Coolest Marathon’ by Runner’s World magazine in 2004
Spitsbergen, April 6th (am): The UVU North Pole Marathon is scheduled to take place on 7 April 2011. Competitors have assembled at Spitsbergen, the departure point for the North Pole. The current temperature at the North Pole is -25C with clear blue skies and low winds — perfect conditions for marathon running!
Spitsbergen, April 6th (pm): The High Arctic is a true frontier and the North Pole Marathon has been suddenly delayed for safety reasons due to a crack developing on the landing runway at the North Pole. The crack is currently being assessed and may require the lengthening of the runway on either end or else a new runway. More information will be available tomorrow, but it is likely that the marathon cannot take place until Friday or Saturday.
Passing time in Spitsbergen…
… While the Polar Bear watch, pick up their shotguns and head out of the pub for a loop of the town.
Spitsbergen, April 7th (am): The North Pole Marathon is currently delayed while logistics attempts to repair the landing runway at the Pole. The marathon takes place on the Arctic Ocean and a crevasse of 1 metre wide opened up on the runway yesterday. A flight containing several North Pole Marathon competitors was en route to the Pole at the time and was ordered to return to Spitsbergen in midair.
While the North Pole Marathon competitors are now waiting in Spitsbergen to fly to the Pole, the UK’s Prince Harry is on the other side waiting for the North Pole Marathon flight to arrive and take him back to Spitsbergen. The Prince had embarked on a charity trek with wounded soldiers but is due home now.
Weather also deteriorated at the Pole yesterday evening with high winds and a blizzard developing. It seems the earliest possible opportunity to fly to the Pole will be tomorrow afternoon, assuming the runway is repaired or a suitable site for a new runway is located and prepared. In this case, the marathon will likely take place on April 9th.
Spitsbergen, April 7th (pm): Updated News – There is no flight to the North Pole tonight while the runway is fixed. There will be an update at approximately 10:00 GMT tomorrow when we hope to learn the North Pole Marathon competitors will be able to depart for the Pole.
Spitsbergen, April 8th (am): The UVU North Pole Marathon runners have received the green light to fly to the Pole today. With 24 hours of daylight at the Pole, the Marathon could begin at midnight GMT.
Boarding the flight in Spitsbergen
North Pole, April 8th (pm): The AN-74 plane safely landed at the Pole with 15 marathoners and picked up Prince Harry in the process. The course is currently being marked and the race is expected to begin at 22:00 GMT after the remaining marathoners arrive on a second flight. The scenery and light is amazing with temperatures of -25C approximately. Spectacular hillocks of ice dot the horizon. A Russian special forces soldier at the Russian base will also join the marathon to bring the total to 27 competitors.
Prince Harry boards, as we disembark…
Update from North Pole, April 9th: The marathon commenced at 22:00 on April 8th and ran throughout the ‘night’ (there are 24 hours of daylight at the North Pole). The temperature was -32C and conditions underfoot became more difficult as the race progressed. However, all runners successfully completed the event and have now stood at the precise Geographic North Pole. Istvan Toth (HUN) won the men’s division in a time of 4:54:03 while Richelle Turner (AUS) won the women’s race in 6:03:06.
2011 North Pole Marathon race results:
2011 North Pole Marathon video: