Not long ago there were hardly any races during the winter months in Iceland. Maybe understandably so, because who wants to go out to race 10 kilometers on a cold dark winter‘s night?
Plenty of people of course, because it‘s an adventure and a lot of fun and once you have tried it you will always come back.
The founders of the Powerade WinterRun series were among those who realized that runners are a crazy bunch who love to run even in frosty conditions.
Northern Lights and Snow
Now there are many winter races in Iceland. One of the most popular is the Powerade WinterRun, which is held once a month from October to March. You might think that the weather during those races would be terrible, but actually it is impossible to predict in advance how the weather will be.
Last October for example, the first race of the winter 2015-2016, the weather was simply beautiful. It was completely still, there was no snow on the course and the northern lights shone brighter than most people had ever seen them.
The run is 10km and the course takes you through the beautiful Elliðaárdalur which is one of Reykjavik‘s most scenic running paths. It‘s in the middle of the city but you can still admire horse stables, woodland and the gorgeous waterfalls in the Elliðaá river.
As the run is held late in the evening in winter time, it can be very dark. The largest part of the course is lit up with light poles but parts of the course are not too well lit. Some people turn up with headlights, not a bad idea!
The race is held in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of conditions so be prepared for some unusual circumstances! Just remember that it is a winter’s night in Iceland, so check the weather forecast and dress accordingly!
Everybody remembers the race in December 2008, a cold and stormy winter night when people had been advised to stay indoors but of course 140 runners could not resist the challenge! The race has never been cancelled due to bad weather.
The race is held every second Thursday of the month and starts close to the swimming pool, Árbæjarlaug, at eight o‘clock. Entry for the run is just ISK 500 and registration starts half an hour before at Árbæjarlaug.
The Powerade WinterRun is a series made up of 6 races, but of course you don’t have to participate in all 6 of them.
The schedule for 2016-2017 is as follows:
- 13 October
- 10 November
- 8 December
- 12 January
- 9 February
- 9 March
The number of participants normally varies from 200 to 400, mainly depending on the weather.
A Map of the course can be found here.
You can also look at the map of the Powerade Circle Route.
Keeping it simple
The idea behind the race is simple. It‘s a race organized by runners, for runners. You show up at the Árbæjarlaug swimming pool, buy a registration card, write your name on it and carry it with you during the race. As you cross the finish line you hand over the card and that‘s it.
No medal, no race bib, and no chip. No problem. This is as low tech as it gets and that‘s part of the attraction. This formula for the run has been a resounding success and there is always a very friendly atmosphere.
All participants receive a bottle of Powerade at the finish, and there are cookies and candlelight in December.
The race is a bit less serious and informal than most other races. Often there is snow on the course, so the times are very difficult to compare from one race to the next and with the course being very hilly as well, a PB is usually out of the question.
The last hill is almost from km 8 to km 9, it‘s something to look forward to during the race especially in icy conditions. It is definitely a good idea to keep something in the tank for the „Power Station Hill“.
After the race many participants go the swimming pool for a soak in the hot tubs, for many the best part of the evening.
How to get there :
You can either take a taxi or a bus to the race start.