Scan Magazine, Issue 84, January 2016

Page 54

Scan Magazine | Special Theme | Norwegian Festival Special

Photo: Sofia Mercadal

Photo: Gerardo Garza

Photo: Sissel Kroknes Giskegjerde

Photo: Sissel Kroknes Giskegjerde

The marathon for adventurers Each year, thousands of runners participate in high-profile marathons around the world, including the famous London, Sydney and New York marathons. Meanwhile, runners seeking a proper adventure turn to Spitsbergen Marathon for the ultimate experience. By Maria Lanza Knudsen

In early June every year, the world’s northernmost marathon on solid ground is hosted on Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, located in the Arctic Ocean halfway to the North Pole from mainland Norway. “On 4 June, we expect over 260 marathon runners from more than 20 countries to participate,” explains Silje M. Hagen, the manager of Spitsbergen Marathon. “That participants travel from around the world to participate really is a testament to the fact that Spitsbergen Marathon is an adventure out of the ordinary.” The 2016 marathon will see a new lineup, with famous Norwegian marathon 54 | Issue 84 | January 2016

runner Ingrid Kristiansen taking part. The multiple winner of the London, New York and Boston marathons will also host a talk about her experiences and running career for the Spitsbergen Marathon participants. Spitsbergen boasts breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife; few, if any, other marathons can offer a run among drastic mountain ranges and polar bears. The race begins and ends in Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost town, and takes the runners on a trail among spectacular scenery combining town environments and wilderness running. At this time of year, the sun never sets, offer-

ing awe-inspiring midnight sun viewings for visitors. A most unique feature is the risk of spotting a polar bear on the trail. “Although polar bear incidents are unlikely, we take the safety of our runners very seriously, so there are armed polar bear guards on all-terrain vehicles spread out along the course,” Hagen reassures. “But I don’t think any other marathon offers such a wildlife experience!” Registration for the Spitsbergen Marathon opened on 1 January 2016.

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