North Pole Marathon–Coolest Race on Earth

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On my various marathon travels, I’ve met a number of runners with incredible tall tales of racing stories from around the globe. None meet the intensity and awe I feel toward the North Pole Marathon. Yep, this exists. Boasting itself as the “Coolest Race on Earth” (I’m sure both literally and figuratively), once a year runners from throughout the world trek to the top of the earth to take part in one of the most challenging marathons on this planet.

In honor of the upcoming holidays, I thought I’d delve a little into this truly adventurous race.

What is it?
The North Pole Marathon is a 26.2-mile foot race across the Arctic snow and no, no one has run into Santa Claus (also both literally and figuratively). It started in 2002 and now a total of 10 races have been completed with 38 nations represented.

What makes it unique?
If running at the top of the world isn’t enough, the North Pole Marathon offers a heated tent every few miles to warm up the body so you don’t get hypothermic. Because it is near impossible to run it all, the cut-off time is very generous so even the slowest penguin-like runners can still finish. People who have never completed a marathon still finish the North Pole Marathon–which means you can do it! Because runners traverse over snow and ice, trail running shoes are worn and flags guide them through the course.

Is it expensive?
Yes. If you have bags of money, this race is certainly a must-do. If you do not (like me), this race is merely a dream. Most of the runners I’ve met who’ve completed it are quite a bit wealthier than I am (actually, that’s an understatement…a lot wealthier than I am).

What do you wear?
In addition to the aforementioned trail running shoes, racers wear thermal clothes, thick ski gloves, as well as face masks, hats, gaiters and goggles.  I can’t imagine how cold your body gets, even while running a marathon. Bundling and layering is a necessity to keep your body temperature warm.

Is it safe?
So far so good. No one has yet to see any polar bears and no flight accidents have occurred getting runners to and from the North Pole. The only time runners should be concerned is keeping their bodies warm and not frost bitten.

Is it worth it?
According to my friends, the answer is yes. I cannot speak from experience because I am not Daddy Warbucks and cannot afford it right now, but this race is enticing and I hope some day to check it off my bucket list…when I win the lottery!

Good luck if you do it! I’d love to hear about it…hopefully someday I will be at that starting line.