Baikal Ice Marathon – Clean Waters Conservation Run and Russia’s Mosr Exotic Marathon.
The True Baikal Nordic Running Experience to support this Gem of Siberia and Well of the Planet Earth – Lake Baikal
The Lake Baikal International Ice Marathon offers competitors the unique opportunity to race across the frozen ice surface of the world’s largest, oldest and deepest lake. This extraordinary event takes place in one of the most beautiful places of Lake Baikal, and is based in the small town of Listvyanka,65 km south of Irkutsk ( a major stop-over on the Trans-Siberian route). The Marathon is a part of a larger winter games held on Lake Baikal – the “Winteriada” Baikal Nordic Games Festival which includes a number of other events such as Baikal Kamchatka Ice Fishing Cup, Baikal Prize Open Ice Golf Tournament, Ice Safari Expeditions on 4-WD, sled dogs and snow-mobiles, Alpine and extreme cross country skiing championships, snow volleyball and football competitions, Baikal area hunters’ and outfitter’s festival and others…
The surface of the frozen lake Baikal is covered in fields of “hummocks”, small hills of ice rubble. Beneath the ice surface, geothermic springs and seismic activity cause localized melting that sometimes may weaken the ice to form holes ( though the average ice on Lake Baikal in this part is over 1 meter and a half which allows trucks and vehicles up to 10 ton in weight to drive on the ice). The race “Ice Captain” and his team of volunteers and the Baikal Ice Marathon support team have the task of plotting a safe course. To get well prepared for the laying of the ice course about a month and half before the Baikal Marathon the organizers of the Baikal Ice Marathon study satellite photos of the ice surface of Baikal to see how the lake freezes the current winter in order to locate possible stable ice cracks that sometimes can be up to 8 km long. A week before the Marathon we go on and lay preliminary Marathon course. The final course ( 42 km 195 m or 26 miles) is laid immediately preceding the race, otherwise movements in the ice can render the support team’s effort redundant. The course for the race of Baikal Marathon is also checked by the Emergency and Rescue Committee staff before being approved as safe to drive the vans and run on the ice.
On the Baikal Ice Marathon race day itself, competitors are ferried by vans from Listvyanka to Tankhoy train station, located on the opposite shore of Lake Baikal. Prior to the start of the race, competitors some years are required to partake in the precautionary ritual of “vodka sprinkling”, in order to pacify the spirits of the Great Baikal ( introducing the novel element of starting a marathon with a shot of vodka).
The course is predominantly flat, but the surface is hard at times and uneven. Although it’s mostly covered in a soft layer f snow, there’re areas of highly polished ice that create conditions similar to an ice-rink. Wind can add to the already bitingly cold temperature and provide serious resitance to progress across Lake Baikal. Though, often the weather is sunny and with no chill factor one can even get some sun tan.
The utterly featureless landscape gives little or no sense of perspective to competitors. The finish line at the port of Listvyanka can be seen almost from the start line. It is a long, cold, lonely ( if not to count the mobile 8 to 10 feed and drink stands) 42,2 km trail across the baren white landscape, where progress is marked only by checkpoints positioned at 5 km intervals ( with hot drinks, food and, for the brave< some more vodka).
“The far reaches of Siberia may not be the first choice destinations for many endurance athletes, who may prefer instead the warmer, and more glamorous, climes. But for those that brave the splendid Russian winter, the reward is a fantastic race, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, on a one-off running surface of the Great Baikal\". (Kym McConel & Dave Horsley)
Join us for a fantastic running experience across Lake Baikal in Russia. The opportunity to run on the ice-frozen surface of Lake Baikal and cross this world’s deepest, largest and oldest fresh water on the run – 1400 meters above the bottom – is just one-of-a-kind…