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My favourite race..in my favourite place

My favourite race..in my favourite place

Back in early September I returned to Iceland to participate in a 6-day, 120KM stage race known as RunIceland. This was to be my third time doing this great event, having participated back in 2014 and 2017. This year was special as it was the 10th anniversary of RunIceland and the organizers had a new agenda for us. The event is small, about 40-50 runners, as accommodations can be challenging in some of the more remote locations plus it allows all runners to share the same bus when travelling between stages. This year we had participants from 12 countries including Belgium, Sweden and Brazil. In a typical year, the event is staged in the south-west of Iceland where stages are held in around some of the iconic sites such as Skogafoss waterfall and the Dyrholaey lighthouse. However, this year the event went north, first travelling through Iceland’s whale watching capital, Akureryi then arriving at Fosshotel Myvatn for a quick rest before Stage 1, a 14KM trail which followed some single track through an Icelandic forest then a long climb which took us around the rim of a volcano. Looking down into the belly of this volcano was amazing – jet black and ominous, plus the winds were really howling. Stage 2 was approximately 18KM and took part in volcanic desert. Again, the winds were strong and there were many climbs which really made this a challenge. Stage 3 took place in the eastern fjiords. This was my first time in this part of the country and I was not disappointed. The sites were spectacular. This was probably the easiest of the 6 stages, coming in around 20K following some local roads but then at times taking us off into some adjacent trails. Stage 4 took had us running back in the desert and with many of the climbs and descents we had experienced in Stage 2. Stage 5, the marathon stage, is the one stage the organizers keep the same each year. If you have a chance to run this, you will know why. What you will experience in 42KM is more than you can share in an article like this. Starting in a black desert you will soon find yourself surrounded by volcanos and mountains with a variety of greens and reds. Rivers will be there to cross. The highlight is probably at around KM 35 where you climb up to the rim of a volcano and look down into a beautiful blue lake surrounded by reds, blacks and greens that make the view breathtaking. The last few KMs follow some single track to the finish line where a hot spring awaits for a well deserved soak (and beer). Stage 6 is the shortest of the stages, around 10K, and had us on a black beach, running up a mountain and back down to the finish line. As the title of this article states, Iceland is one of my favourite countries to visit and RunIceland is my favourite race. If you think you might enjoy some adventure trail running then I can’t recommend this event enough. The event is very well organized, accommodations and meals are excellent plus, you will come away with new friends from around the world.

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