Day 1 - October 17
We leave Copenhagen in the morning. A 5 hour flight will bring us to Kangerlussuaq (previously known as Søndre Strømfjord) where we arrive in the morning, local time. Kangerlussuaq is at GMT –3 hours. Kangerlussuaq is the largest of Greenland’s two international airports for civilian air traffic. From here the domestic flights to the rest of Western and Northern Greenland originate. It is not a large town as such, actually Kangerlussuaq received town status as late as in 2001 and is part of the Sisimiut municipality. The permanent population is approximately 500 people, with most people employed at the airport. There is a supermarket, a post office, a restaurant (at the hotel), a few cafeterias and a bowling ally.
The airport was built by the Americans during the Second World War. Under the name Blue West Eight the air base was established along the 170km long fjord that stretches inland and has given name to the town. The air base was of strategic importance, both during World War II and the Cold War. At this time more than 1400 soldiers were situated at the base. With increased technological developments, however, the importance of the base gradually declined and the Americans finally left and handed over the area to the Government of Greenland in 1992.
Upon our arrival we check in at Polar Lodge or Hotel Kangerlussuaq. When everyone has checked in, the race officials and tour leaders will give a brief welcome after which the rest of the afternoon is at your leisure with the opportunity to purchase optional excursions.
In the evening we all meet for a traditional barbeque with meat specialties from Greenland. A meal onboard the flight and barbeque dinner is included this day.
Day 2 - October 18
Route Inspection and Pasta Party
Today we start out with one of the highlights of the tour – inspecting the marathon route. We will be heading 35 kms east of the airport to the ice cap and en route members of staff will inform runners about the various aspects of the course. The route inspection is also an opportunity for participants who are not running to take part in the excursion to the ice cap. We drive in large all terrain vehicles, which will take us through the wide Sanddrift Valley along Watson River. Not far from Kangerlussuaq we pass by the golf course and the 400 metre high cone formed hill, Suger Loaf. We continue through the fantastic landscape of lakes, fertile moor and dense scrub. Once in a while it is replaced by large stretches of dunes and rock devoid of vegetation. Relative to the rest of Greenland it is fairly fertile landscape - there is rich flora in spring and summer and the altitude of the big, rounded hills do not exceed 700 metres.
A few kilometres from the inland ice edge, Russel Glacier winds through the terrain and we continue to point 660, one of the most beautiful ice landscapes in Greenland, with the inland ice dominating the background and a number of glaciers spreading out. At times the thunderous noise of the glaciers calving can be heard - it is fantastic to experience the sight of the rugged and winding ice cap with its crevasses, rapid meltwater rivers and wells.
Finally we arrive at the edge of the ice cap where we park the vehicles and take a tour on the ice cap itself. It is a great experience to feel the massive cold air from the ice, taste the pure crystal clear air and listen to the deafening silence. You suddenely realise that Greenland is in a category by itself.
The road from Kangerlussuaq to the ice cap was originally built by German carmaker Volkswagen who had a testing center on the ice and needed easy access from the harbour in Kangerlussuaq to the extreme conditions on the ice cap. The testing center, however, is now closed and the road is now under the supervision of Sisimiut Municipality. The condition of the road is therefore not as good as it has been, but more like an adventure marathon route. The access to the ice cap has also declined over the years, partly because of lesser maintainance and partly because of the retraction of the ice cap over the past years.
In the evening a traditional Pasta Party will take place.
Breakfast, sandwich lunch and pasta dinner are included this day.
Day 3 - October 19
The Polar Circle Marathon
We will rise early and have breakfast. At 7:30 in the morning we drive to the starting point near the inland ice, once again using all terrain vehicles to get there. Both the half and full marathon will start at 9:30. Full marathon runners have 7 hours to complete, while half marathon runners have 4 hours. More information on the race can be found under “The Marathon”.
Half marathon participants will use the same start as the full marathon. They will follow the track on the ice cap and have their goal after the required 21.1 km. At the half marathon finish line the largest of the all-terrain vehicles is waiting to take all half marathon participants back to Kangerlussuaq when the last runner has passed the line.
The full marathon finishing line will be located in the parking area between Polar Lodge and Hotel Kangerlussuaq giving easy access for all marathon runners to their rooms and a hot shower.
The runners will be offered water and refreshments at stations posted along the route. At the finishing line a sandwich will be provided. In the evening a buffet dinner is set up at Hotel Kangerlussuaq.
Breakfast, sandwich lunch and buffet dinner are included this day.
Day 4 - October 20
Kangerlussuaq, walking tour and Celebration Dinner
After yesterdays strenuous efforts some may want to relax while others are up for more adventure. The program for today offers a guided walk up to Mount Hassel - also known as ‘Kitchen Mountain’ because all the apartment blocks have their kitchen windows facing the hillside - just behind the airport. This tour takes about 4 hours. We start the tour from Polar Lodge and follow the ridge eastwards towards the inland ice. The higher we go the more beautiful it gets and, weather permitting, we will have a fantastic panoramic view from the fjord to the inland ice. If there is too much snow the tour leaders will try to find an alternative route at a lower level.
There are also opportunities to go on the optional excursions that were offered on arrival day.
In the evening we will celebrate the completion of The Polar Circle Marathon 2013 with a festive Greenlandic dinner in Kangerlussuaq.
Breakfast, lunch buffet and Celebration Dinner included this day.
Day 5 - October 21
After an intense weekend we travel back to Copenhagen. The flight leaves just before noon so we have a final opportunity to enjoy a last stroll or jog around Kangerlussuaq. Arrival in Copenhagen in the evening (CET).
Breakfast and a meal onboard the flight is included this day.