Weekend around turn of April/May, in the period of midnightsun and when extremely low temperatures are unlikely, the biggest sports event of Spitsbergen takes place: the Svalbard Skimarathon.
Popular: Originally initiated as a local event in 1993, the competition attracts an increasing number of participants from mainland Norway and from other countries, resulting in a total of about 500 runners in full and semi marathon.
Start are situated in the mouth of Todalen into Adventdalen, about 7 km east of Longyearbyen into the inland. The marathon follows a mostly prepared loipe (track) through the mostly narrow and deeply indented Todalen up to Gangdalsskardet, altitude difference about 400 m. Up there, a smaller circular round is integrated, before continueing down from Gangdalskardet southwards into Reindalen. There is the turning point of the full marathon, from where the runners revert the about 400 m altitude difference up to Gangdalsskardet, continueing downwards Todalen to the aim in lower Todalen, identical with the start. The route is controlled by a number of armed guards on snowmobiles.
Inspite of mostly prepared track, this is a somewhat demanding, partly steep route, with covering 400 m up and down again twice, as an additional challenge. The fastest runners cover the full marathon under good conditions in a bit more than 2 hours (men) and around 2.5 hours (women), in both cases in the age group 21-30 years. Even the highest age groups (above 70 years) have usually participants, who cover the full marathon distance.
For less ambitious runners, there is also a semi-marathon and the so-called trim class.
As with all outdoor sports, there is of course a residual risk of having to cancel the event - because of too bad weather, or premature serious melting.
For safety reasons, therefore all runners have to be prepared for weather problems, but also sudden health deficiencies. To support these precautions, it has been made mandatory to carry along a small rucksack of at least 3 kilos.
Register early - the same for booking of flights and accomodation:
In view of growing popularity of the Spitsbergen Skimarathon, also growing numbers of participants have to be expected. Limiting factors are first of all available flight and accomodation capacities, because April and early May are peak tourism season, even without the ski marathon. However, changing the date of the marathon is not really seriously considered, because end of April is the most logic date regarding averabe natural conditions: usually not exremely cold anymore, permanent daylight already, and usually in most years still qute stable snow conditions.
Therefore: at least flights and accomodation should be booked long in advance, preferrably before Christmas time.
Longyearbyen Camping is the cheapest accomodation for marathon participants. In addition to a few sleeping places for sleepingbags on insulation mats inside the building, there is also the possibility of camping outside (including utilisation of the service building during daytime) - provided you are equipped with high quality winter camping gear. See also the relevant informations regarding
Services and Prices,
Spitsbergen Camping in General,
Registration for the actual Ski Marathon is done via the local sports club Svalbard Turn, who also organises the event. Its webside » www.svalbardturn.no (Norwegian/English) includes also all other relevant information.