How many North Pole Marathon races have occurred?
The North Pole Marathon has seen 17 editions so far, with the first 16 being Spring Editions. The 2023 North Pole Marathon marked the first Summer Edition. The 2024 Spring Edition will be the 18th North Pole Marathon, and the 2024 Summer Edition will be the 19th North Pole Marathon. The first North Pole Marathon occurred in 2002 when race director Richard Donovan covered the distance alone. The race is now a prominent fixture on the international marathon calendar and approximately 550 people from over 50 nations have successfully completed it.
I have no prior extreme weather experience. Is it ok for me to run at the North Pole?
Yes. Proper clothing should ensure the cold is not an overwhelming problem when running or walking this race. A large heated tent is also available every 4 km to 5 km. Most participants will never have encountered extremely cold conditions before traveling to the Pole.
With little or no marathon experience, should I be able to finish the North Pole Marathon?
Yes. If you train properly and can run or walk a distance of 26.2 miles comfortably, then you should be able to complete the North Pole Marathon successfully. Some of the previous participants had never completed a marathon before: determination is the key ingredients to finishing. However, it is important to keep warm and maintain a good body temperature. One of the priorities of the organizer is to have everybody finish the race and there is generally no cut-off time of major significance.
Can I raise money for charity?
Yes. It is a great idea to use your participation to raise funds for a charity or cause that you feel passionate about. Previous entrants have raised millions of euro for charity.
Is it ok to have a sponsor?
Yes. You can bring a sponsoring company's logo or product to the exact North Pole to have it photographed. The race is broadcast extensively each year and you can wear sponsor logos on your headgear, and the sides of your arms and legs during the event (the official race number is placed on the front of your torso).
How will I get to the North Pole?
There are two methods to reach the North Pole: using specialized aircraft to access the North Pole Camp in April or joining the icebreaker expedition during the summer months. Please see the Race Travel section for details.
Are spring and summer editions different?
Both editions are the official North Pole Marathon and qualify you for the Marathon Grand Slam Club. And there are some major differences:
Floating ice camp
Family trip of a Lifetime
Do I need a visa for the North Pole?
No. You do not require a visa to visit the North Pole. However, citizens of some countries may require a visa to enter France, Norway, or Russia.
Is there any land at the North Pole?
No. The North Pole is not situated on land, but on the Arctic Ocean. Athletes will therefore be running 'on' water, frozen water! You will be running on an ice sheet some 6 - 12 feet thick above 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean on the top of the world.
What date will the race take place?
This 2024 North Pole Marathon Spring Edition is provisionally scheduled for April 10, 2024; the 2024 North Pole Marathon Summer Edition is scheduled on August 2, 2024. Please visit the Itinerary page for details.
Can I be guranteed to be in and out of the North Pole as scheduled?
For the Spring Edition: absolutely not. Although the races are often operated in a very timely fashion, you are going to one of the most difficult places to fly to in the world. There could be many days of delay and you should not plan anything important for a minimum of one week after your expected return. Allow yourself time to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of time pressures. Of course, every effort will be made to keep to the scheduled departure and return date, but all flights are subject to weather, aircraft serviceability, bureaucracy and local conditions.
For the Summer Edition: Yes, embarkation and disembarkation will follow the schedule, but please be aware that delays or itinerary changes can occur in polar travel.
Where exactly will the race take place?
For the Spring Edition: The race will be run from a drifting North Pole camp called Barneo, which floats about the North Pole between 89N and 90N. There will be a circular route of 4.2 km, if possible, which must be repeated ten times. Leads (breaks in the ice) and safety criteria will ultimately determine the maximum length of the circuit. The finish will occur at the ceremonial Pole where all the lines of longitude symbolically meet.
For the Summer Edition: Le Commandant Charcot is a state-of-the-art polar vessel, equipped with cutting-edge innovations and pioneering technologies. Its innovative ice routing and data collection systems allow precise navigation through the ice to reach the exact 90N coordinates. The race will take place on a suitable ice floe, located immediately adjacent to or directly at the Geographic North Pole.
Will it be safe to run?
The race is a contained one in that it is run on a circuit. Flags will guide athletes around the course and participants should be visible at all times. Moreover, there should not be a discernibly greater risk from the activity of running vis-a-vis doing any other activities at the Pole or being in the general location.
Will the circuit be a perfect circle?
No. The circuit will meander among hillocks of ice and the course could be of any shapes. The map depicts the course of the 2007 North Pole Marathon in April, which was a loop of 4.2km, incorporated part of the aircraft landing runway. Competitors repeated this loop ten times to finish the marathon distance.
Will the course be moving during the race?
The entire course will move with the direction of the Ocean current during the race. Competitors will not feel this movement happening, but it does! Athletes should simply feel like they are running on land at the exact same longitude and latitude coordinates where they began. The diagram depicts the map readings of a competitor's GPS watch for each of the ten laps of the 2007 spring race. One can see that the entire course was moving as a block during the 5+ hours it took him to complete the race distance.
Will I get to stand at the exact Geographic North Pole?
Yes. For the Spring Edition, we will travel by Mi-8 chopper from the ice camp to the exact Geographic North Pole (90N). For the Summer Edition, the vessel will bring the group to the exact 90N. Remember that we are floating on the Arctic Ocean and within minutes we will have moved away from the exact North Pole!
Will there be a threat from polar bears?
For the Spring Edition: it is unusual for a polar bear to travel that far north in April, though the camp operators keep weapons for safety reasons and to scare them away. To date, no marathoner has seen a polar bear in Spring Editions, but bears have appeared at the camp on other days.
For the Summer Edition: it's not uncommon that polar bears will travel to the North Pole in the summer months, and armed polar bear guards will be on duty during all expeditions, including the marathon.
What is the weather usually like?
For Spring Edition: It is possible that the wind chill temperature could be very cold at -30C or below. In the 2009 and 2011 races, the temperature was -37C and -32C, respectively. However, it has tended to average between -25C and -30C. The wind chill temperature in 2015 and 2017 was -41C.
For Summer Edition: In the Arctic summer months, temperatures can rise above 0°C. During the marathon at the North Pole, temperatures typically range from -5°C to -10°C with wind chill, occasionally reaching 0°C.
What are the underfoot conditions at the Pole?
The terrain will be uneven, incorporating both reasonably solid ice and loose snow. The snow should not be deep, but it will nevertheless be energy sapping and there can be occasional deep patches.
What shoes should I wear when running?
A pair of trail running shoes will work best, preferably with waterproof features. Please note that snowshoes are not allowed during the Spring Edition to prevent damage to the lining of tents used for refreshments and accommodation.
What clothes should I wear when running?
A layering system is best. Please see the Race Gear section for specific details.
Will medical personnel be present?
Yes, a medical doctor with expertise in cold weather injuries is always present during the race.
Will there be media coverage of the race?
Yes, the event always generates substantial global media coverage.
What is the North Pole Marathon Grand Slam Club?
The North Pole Marathon Grand Slam Club comprises athletes who have completed a marathon on each of the seven continents AND the North Pole Marathon. Many athletes are members of The 7 Continents Marathon Club, but this is an opportunity to go one step further and add the Arctic Ocean to your running CV. A Grand Slam medal is issued to accepted Grand Slam members.
Does the North Pole Marathon have a positive environmental ethos?
Yes. The North Pole Marathon likes to use its race location on the polar ice cap in a positive environmental way. Indeed, many of the participants utilize the event to spread climate change messages to a large global audience. The event is is a foot race and naturally promotes fitness and exercise as a substitute to car and vehicle use. Furthermore, there is a carbon offsetting policy employed for the polar flights via investment in forestry projects in the Brazilian Amazon. It should also be highlighted, to avoid misconceptions, that the emissions resulting from flight to the Pole are identical to those of a similar flight elsewhere in the world. Moreover, climate change is a global phenomenon and we also encourage others to offset their carbon emissions.