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.
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 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.