The running boom is still going strong in Iceland and 2018 was a very strong running year with interest and the number of participants in Icelandic running events higher than ever.
Here is a list of the ten most popular races in Iceland 2017, counting only timed distances. The list includes eight road races, mainly in or around Reykjavik, and two trail races.
1. Reykjavik Marathon – 9,802 finishers
The Reykjavik Marathon in August is by far the biggest running event in Iceland. In addition to the timed distances there is a 3K fun run and a very popular kids run.
Half marathon: 2,625
2. Midnight Sun Run – 2,420 finishers
This midnight race is held at summer solstice, celebrating Iceland’s bright summer nights.
Half marathon: 701
3. IR‘s New Years Eve Run – 1,170 finishers
Fun costumes are everywhere as runners say goodbye to the old year and celebrate the new in ÍR’s New Year’s Eve race in Reykjavik, held on the 31st of December. The course is fast and scenic but wind, ice or snow might make that PB difficult to reach. This year however the conditions were perfect although it was very cold.
4. Icelandair Airport Run – 592 finishers
The 7K Icelandair Airport Run was first held in 1995 and is always one of the most popular ones, with a very pretty, fast and flat course. The race is held in May and the course takes you around the domestic airport in Reykjavik.
5. IR‘s Cross Country Race – 518 finishers
The 5K IR‘s Cross Country Race is the oldest continuous sporting event in Iceland and is traditionally the start of the racing season. The race is held on the first day of summer in April, a public holiday in Iceland, but the temperature is far from being warm.
6. Stjörnuhlaupið – 454 finishers
The race is held in Garðabær, one of the suburbs of Reykjavik. Part of the course take you through beautiful paths in the lava south of Garðabær. It has two distances on offer, 5k and 10k.
7. Laugavegur Ultra Marathon – 430 finishers
The Laugavegur Ultra is the undisputed king of Icelandic trail races. It’s the biggest and best known trail and ultra race in the country and draws many participants every year from abroad. It’s an experience of a lifetime.
8. Fossvogur Race – 416 finishers
Great organization, beautiful running paths and a determination to put on a top race are the keys to why this race is one of the best running events in Iceland. The course is in Fossvogur valley which is one of Reykjavik’s most popular running areas.
9. Powerade October – 410 finishers
This very popular 10K winter race series, held once a month from October to March,
draws the crowds no matter how bad the weather is. The race is held in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of conditions.
10. Hvítasunnuhlaup Hauka (Pentecost Trail Race) – 327 finishers
This trail race is held in the wilderness next to Hafnarfjörður, a suburb of Reykjavik. It’s a very nice and well organized event with exceptionally cheerful staff. It has three distances on offer: 14 km, 17.5 km and 22 km.
There are many other great races, so remember to not only look at the size of the race. Many of the races we like best are small in numbers but big in style and character!