ICELAND, NORTHERN LIGHTS, ATHLETIC EFFORTS, AND LIFE LISTS Is seeing the Northern Lights on your life list’? Traveling to Iceland, the land of fire and ice? Finishing an obstacle course race? For those unfamiliar with a “life list”, it’s a more positive expression for the concept of a “bucket list”, which is an itemization of ‘things to do before kicking the bucket’, a euphemism for dying. It seems antithetical to strive to experience some of the most wonderful activities life has to offer and refer to it in terms of death, so Earned Runs is going with that thought in mind.
Several thrilling adventures that are likely to fulfill criteria for placement on the life lists of many have been packaged into a single event at the end of 2017, by the Spartan Race organization, in the form of a world championship event.
THE SPARTAN RACE ULTRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
“Unleash Your Inner Beast” says the Spartan Race Series webpage that provides access to the 2017 schedule. If you’ve trained to compete in an obstacle course race and prepared to free your personal animal athlete, Iceland might be in your travels plans this December. The Race announced the site of its first-ever Ultra World Championships will be just outside the country’s capital city, Reykjavik, December 14-17.
An article, “Spartan Race Series is Heading to Iceland for Their World Championships” on Competitor.com describes 3 different competitions: 1) the Sprint race, (participants complete a 5-mile course), 2) the ULTRA World Championships (24-hour period to complete the 5-mile course as many times as possible), and 3) the Agoge, limited to 100 participants (60 miles of elite military-type challenges). Only the Sprint Race will be competed entirely within during the brief period, about 4 hours, in which the sun is in the sky providing daylight. At this time of year, the sun rises about 11am and sets about 3pm.
The Spartan Race (SR) website indicates that persons who pre-registered for the Ultra by September 1 should now be confirmed to participate. It encourages all interested racers to quickly sign up because an additional 300 Ultra spots had just been released. The 5-mile Sprint race is explained as in the Competitor.com article. However, details on the Agoge are sparse on the official site. There is a team option for the Ultra. “The minimum distance required to earn a finisher medal is 6 laps per team (approximately 30 miles)”
Part of the SR pitch to register for the event reads: “Picture this. You’re running through epic Icelandic scenery, overcoming Spartan’s brutal obstacles in golden twilight and the darkest of nights. The sky above you is lit up by the mystical glow of the Northern Lights. You experience the electric atmosphere of the first 24hr indoor Spartan festival.”
CHASING THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Mystical glow of the Northern Lights? Yes! A search of the internet to determine if December offers the best opportunity to view the colorful spectacle of the Aurora Borealis in this location reveals that visitors are not guaranteed this experience.
A local expert tour site, northernlightsiceland.com, wonderfully explains the lights and the variables involved in predicting their occurrence and planning a trip to see them. According to the site, the overall best season is September to mid-April, during the darkest months of the year. The dates November – February contain days with the longest hours of darkness but also with increased chances of cloudy conditions that would obscure the sky and make for poor viewing.
Best locations are away from city lights, including decks of whale watching tour boats that need only sail a short distance from Reykjavik. There are self- and company-guided tours of several different types. New on the scene are awesome “aurora bubbles” that allow campers to sleep in view-through structures to see the lights.
The tour site offers more invaluable insights into trip planning.
LIFE LIST ITEM
The Spartan Race organization has introduced an exciting athletic element into Iceland tourism. It deserves credit for firing imaginations and opening eyes to new fitness contest possibilities in this startlingly beautiful country.
Earned Runs enables personal competition by giving free bibs. Obstacle course races are very difficult to self-organize into personal events, and require a great deal of physical preparation. However, for many a trip to Iceland which includes camping and hiking or running, even without competing in an obstacle course race, will require advance training. It will represent a considerable, possibly an epic, adventure fit to be a life list item. Especially if there are also plans to chase down the elusive Northern Lights.
The Ultra World Championship registration will close when the participation limit is reached, but there are no such limits to planning personal events. Perhaps some life lists will lengthen to include a run or hike in Iceland under the flare of a celestial light show. Thanks to the Spartan Race organizers for leading the way!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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