Here the big town feel complete with clapping spectators and hooplah at the start and finish line is achieved at the center of Qaqortoq. But do not be fooled. In between, you must fight your way through the shrubbery and soft mossy ground as you run past the big lake, into the hills and finally back to town by way of a gravel road. With a total elevation climb of 1200 m on pure terrain, this marathon is actually the toughest of the three.
This mostly backcountry marathon gives a unique opportunity to make an entire holiday out of the experience. The very same evening in Qaqortoq, there is what South Greenlanders consider the social and family event of the year – the annual Sheep Farmer Festival. Think: horseback racing, lasso competitions, flea market tables with jewelry and accessories made of sheep horn and wool, and beautiful meats from the sheep farmers’ own flocks, which their lives revolve around every day of the year. This is why they celebrate so grandly, and after completing the most difficult marathon in South Greenland, you, too, will have something to celebrate!
Tasikuluulik Adventure Race, 13-14 July (UNESCO Area 4)
This race is not a marathon but something far more adventurous – a multidiscipline backcountry race spanning two days with an overnight DIY camping trip. A combination of running, kayaking and cycling on Day 1 will lead you to cross the UNESCO World Heritage line, but not yet the finish line. Only after camping overnight in a beautiful open valley, repelling, cycling again and running a little more than a half marathon toward the Greenland Ice Sheet can athletes say they conquered the Tasikuluulik Adventure Race!
This is not a Tough Mudder but you will get muddy.
This is not an Ultra Viking but you will be surrounded by dozens of Viking ruin sites.
The race organisers arrange transport to the Tasikuluulik peninsula just half an hour from the town of Qaqortoq by boat. However, athletes must provide their own equipment or rent it.
Leif den Lykkeliges Marathon, 17 August (Qassiarsuk, UNESCO Area 1)
Speaking of Vikings, the last marathon of the season is named after Viking nr 2, Leif Erikson, and takes place in the same area that his father, the most famous Viking in history, Erik the Red, settled at the end of the 10th century. Now called Qassiarsuk and deemed UNESCO cultural world heritage, this Inuit sheep farming settlement is home to approximately 40 residents and the population more than quadruples when the marathon runners come in!
The Leif den Lykkelige Marathon is a Y-shaped route leading from the coastal settlement of Qassiarsuk on one fjord through the lake-spotted landscape to the sheep farm Nunataaq on the next fjord over. Turning and retracing the steps halfway finds a fork in the route to head toward the southern coast to the sheep farm Inneruulalik.
This is the easiest of the four events as it is nearly entirely on gravel ATV paths built and used by the area sheep farmers – their lifelines to their fields and each other.