Course FAQs

 

What are the course and terrain like?

The course starts in the remote and wild highlands of Iceland, a place many Icelanders have never visited due to its remoteness. You will see and run through glaciers, extinct volcanoes, fresh lava fields, steaming geothermal pools and sand dunes. Over the course of 6 days you will run 250km to the finish near Lake Myvatn. There is not too much elevation gain and loss on the course but the terrain underfoot can be very challenging. Be prepared to spend a lot of time running over sand and rocky lava fields which is difficult underfoot. Make sure you shoes and legs are up to the challenge by training in sand and rocky ground before you arrive in Iceland.

 

Are there any river crossings?

Yes! You will have to cross a few rivers throughout the course of the race. There are two larger rivers where we set up a rope and crew are on hand to help you if you get into difficulties. The larger rivers can be up to thigh deep so be prepared to have wet clothing after the river crossings. Some people choose to carry an extra pair of lightweight shoes for the river crossings whilst others are happy to cross in their running shoes. We do not recommend crossing these rivers bare foot because the ground underfoot is very rocky.

 

Do I need to be able to navigate?

There is no navigation required during the race. The entire course will be marked with red flags and tape.

 

Can you provide a map or GPS route of the course?

We cannot provide maps or GPS routes for the course because of the sensitive nature of the flora, fauna and landscape. We work very closely with the National Park Authority to build a unique and spectacular course that has the minimum impact on the environment we run through. Because the area is so special you can often find members of our crew literally sweeping the footprints of the runners that have been through. If we were to provide maps and GPS routes it would jeopardise the future of the race.

 

How close is it to 250km?

We use professional standard GPS instruments to measure our course, using the average distance from two devices to provide the highest accuracy we can. We try and make the course as close to 250km as possible but we do adapt it to make sure you see the most beautiful scenery Iceland has to offer, so you may find you are a few kilometres over by the end of the race. Please be aware that most GPS watches only connect to a few satellites at a time and so there is often more error in their distance measurements than with our GPS instruments. Read here for more information about GPS inaccuracy.

 

Checkpoints

There are usually two checkpoints per stage with more on the long day. Checkpoints are spaced at 15-20km intervals. The checkpoints are there to resupply water and for your safety, medical support is available at checkpoints. In addition to the main checkpoints members of the team will be driving up and down the course to check on competitors. Hot water will be made available for those that want to stop for a meal at the last checkpoint on the long day otherwise it will only be cold water.

 

Cut off times

These vary depending on the length of the stage and the terrain covered. The cut offs are generous enough for a fast walker to complete the stage. More information on cut off times will be published closer to the start of the race.

 

What if I don’t meet the cut off or can’t complete a stage?

Despite the generous cut off times some people find they cannot complete a stage of the race whether this is for medical reasons or otherwise. If a competitor fails to complete all six stages they are not eligible for a finishers medal and will not have their overall time recorded. Due to the remote nature of the course we are unable to return people to race HQ if they retire from the race, this is because all of our staff and vehicles are committed to helping the people who are still racing. There are a few options if a competitor cannot complete a stage:

  • If you feel you can complete the next stage then we will allow you to start the next day. We cannot accommodate people who start stages with no intention of completing them, if you are unable to complete multiple stages we will not allow you to keep starting.
  • Many people who have to retire from the race choose to help the crew with light tasks such as at a checkpoint. This means you can still be involved in the race and cheer your fellow competitors on.
  • If you cannot help the crew you will be transported from camp to camp where you can rest.

 

Start times

Start times vary each day, on the first day all competitors will start together. On every subsequent stage there will be staggered starts depending on your finishing time the day before. These start times are non-negotiable and will be decided by the race director. Unfortunately we cannot allow people to change start times once they have been allocated as this will affect the final results. Be prepared for some early morning starts, especially if you are one of the slower runners. The camp team will start taking tents down half an hour before the final wave starts so that they have enough time to set up camp at the other end, please make sure you are ready to go by then.

Kit FAQs

Kit list

Please download the race pack here which has the full kit list.

Waterproofs

We always have lots of questions about our minimum requirements for waterproofs. Due to the unforgiving nature of Icelandic weather and the distance of the race we are very strict on the quality of waterproofs that are required. These waterproofs need to keep you dry and warm for hours upon hours in extremely tough conditions. If you cannot prove that your waterproofs meet the minimum requirements you will fail the kit check and be sent to buy new waterproofs before you are allowed to start the race.

As per the kit list the requirements for waterproofs are:

  • Taped seams, waterproof and breathable.
  • If it is single layer material it has to have a minimum of 20,000mm hydrostatic head.
  • If it is a 2.5 or 3 layer material then it has to be a minimum of 10,000mm hydrostatic head.

If the manufacturer doesn’t specify the rating of the waterproof then it does not meet the specifications, manufacturers like to boast about their waterproof ratings!

Emergency light and flashing LED

There is often some confusion about what lights must be carried. Make sure you install fresh batteries in each of your lights before the race. To clarify you must have three lights:

  1. Head torch – this is for the long stage and for using around camp in the evenings. Must be powerful enough to see by if walking and running.
  2. Emergency light – in case your head torch should fail for whatever reason, this must be powerful enough to see by if walking/running. Can either be another head torch or just a normal torch.
  3. Small flashing red light – this is to attach to the back of your pack if running in the dark to make sure you are visible if you are running in the dark. Something such as this.

Drop bag

The drop bag exists as an additional safety measure for the race. It is not there to make your pack lighter or to provide you with extra food. You will not be allowed to access your drop bag unless it is provided to you by the race organisation. There are only three circumstances where drop bags will be issued:

  1. If temperatures are forecast to drop below freezing during the day or the night then drop bags will be supplied to all competitors.
  2. If one of the race medics or the race director deems it necessary for a specific competitor to receive their drop bag. If this is the case and the competitor continues the race then an appropriate time penalty will be applied.
  3. If you drop out of the race you may have access to your drop bag once you have been driven to the overnight camp. However, if you choose to take your drop bag you will not be allowed to start subsequent stages as detailed above.

Your drop bag should be a waterproof dry bag as we cannot guarantee that drop bags will be stored in dry conditions. Please see the kit list for details of the required clothing in the drop bag, there must be no extra clothing or nutrition in the drop bag. The drop bag is not an excuse to make weight savings in your main race pack. You will be provided with a luggage label to mark your dry bag with your name and race number, please also write your name on the bag with a marker pen in case the label comes off. Hopefully you won’t need to use your drop bag at all.

Charging devices

There is no mains electricity anywhere along the course, there will be no opportunity to charge your devices. We cannot make any exceptions to this rule as it would be unfair on other competitors. We recommend that you carry a power bank if you want to keep GPS device, mobile phone or music player topped up. Some people choose to carry a solar charging pack but remember that you will be in Iceland and sunlight is far from guaranteed.

Weather

The weather on the course is very variable and can get cold, it’s not called Iceland for nothing. There is a saying in Iceland that you can experience all four seasons in one day. In the past competitors have had to deal with everything from snow to sunburn and sandstorms during the same race. Temperatures during the race can drop below freezing, this is uncommon during the day but it does happen frequently at night. Please ensure that your sleep system and clothing are adequate to deal with temperatures well below freezing during the night. The race starts at an altitude of around 900m (roughly 3,000 feet) and stays in the mountains for the first few days which makes the weather cooler and less predictable.

We advise that if you feel the cold you adjust your clothing choices accordingly. Many competitors choose to carry a warmer sleeping bag than the minimum specified in the kit list even though it means extra weight. If it becomes very cold the drop bags will be issued, for more information on drop bags please see the kit list.

If you want to look up weather for the race then most Icelanders prefer to rely on the Norwegian weather service as they find it more reliable. The website also provides statistics so that you can see the previous average temperatures. This is the closest weather station for the first few stages of the race. Just remember that even if the weather forecast is good for the week of the race it can change very quickly!