With a handful of weeks left until the London Marathon on April 22, travel experts at leading Nordics and Scandinavia tour operator Magnetic North Travel select their five favourite race events in the frozen north. The races – all taking place above the 64th parallel – are perfect for those looking to kick on following their London exploits, or for seasoned marathon runners seeking the additional challenge of extreme conditions and remote locations.
Where: Lofoten Islands, Norway
When: May 31-June 3, 2018 Coordinates: 68.23°N, 14.56°E
About: The Lofoten Ultratrail is a series of running races ranging from a 12K race to a 100-mile ultramarathon around the jagged mountaintops, white beaches and green hills of these remote islands in the freezing Norwegian Sea. The Ultratrail is part of the wider Arctic Triple series that also includes races on skis. See thearctictriple.no
Package: Three nights’ B&B in a cabin at the Svinoya Rorbuer Resort on Svolvær, from £595 per person, including local transfers. International flights, race fee and activities are extra. Click here to find out more.
Where: Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway
When: June 2, 2018 Coordinates: 78.90°N, 13.48°E
About: Claimed to be the ‘only race in the world with polar bear guards’ (that’s people to guard you from polar bears, rather than runners being guarded by bears). The Spitsbergen Marathon is one of the northernmost in the world and takes participants past fjords and mountains in the rugged Arctic landscape. See spitsbergenmarathon.no
Package: One night’s B&B at the Basecamp Hotel and two nights’ full-board on the Schooner Linden, from £1,395 per person, including onboard equipment and activities. International flights, local transfers and race fee are extra. Click here to find out more.
Where: Tromso, Norway
When: August 3-4, 2018 Coordinates: 69.65°N, 18.95°E
About: Skyrunning is a relatively niche sport, as races tend to take place on extremely technical trails at a lung-busting altitude of 2,000m or more. This series of four races includes options from a 2.7K seemingly vertical race with 1,044m of elevation, to a 57K ultra with 4,800m of climbing. See tromsoskyrace.com
Package: Three nights’ full-board at the Lyngen Lodge outside Tromso, from £795 per person, including local transfers. International flights and race fee are extra. Click here to find out more.
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
When: August 18, 2018 Coordinates: 64.13°N, 21.81°E
About: This may be Iceland’s biggest running race but it’s positively tiny by city marathon standards, with just 1,500 annual participants. There are marathon, half-marathon, 10k and fun run options, and the race takes place on a course with views of the surrounding lunar-like volcanic landscapes, glaciers and ocean. See marathon.is
Package: A seven-night escorted group tour of Iceland, from £1,365 per person, including breakfast, four dinners, local transfers and some activities. International flights and race fee are extra. Click here to find out more.
Where: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
When: October 27-28, 2018 Coordinates: 67.00°N, 50.72°E
About: Referred to as the ‘coolest marathon in the planet’, this race takes runners on half and full marathon races around Greenland’s ice sheet. Much of the race is on gravel road, but the late-autumn weather makes for slippery snow and ice. See polar-circle-marathon.com
Package: Two nights’ B&B at the Hotel Arctic and two nights’ B&B at the Hotel Kangerlussuaq, from £2,150 per person, including two dinners, some tours, and flights from Iceland to Greenland. Flights to Iceland and race fees are extra. Click here to find out more.