Category Archives: Arctic Running

The Uniqueness of Running Trails in Iceland

Icelandic nature is gorgeus, but there are many places in the world that are equally beautiful. What makes Iceland special is its uniqueness. People running with us consistently rate their adventure as their most favorite run of all times. Even seasoned runners that come from gorgeous trail running paradises are no exceptions. So it’s not that Iceland is necessarily the most beautiful place people have seen. What makes the difference is that they have never seen anything like it before.

What is so Unique about  Running in Iceland?

What comes to mind is raw, untouched nature. The contrasts of ice and fire, glaciers and volcanoes, rugged and smooth, desolation and vegetation. The destruction of black lava and the growth of soft green moss on top of it. The waterfalls , small creeks and mountain tops. And all of it can be viewed without feeling like you’re inside a museum jammed with tourists. And then there´s the view…

We do have trees in Iceland. But they are neither tall nor many. The lack of trees does have its advantages, though. It provides an amazing view in all directions. The vastness and sense of freedom that fills people when surrounded by nothing but a raw Icelandic nature can only be experienced. There are only about three inhabitants per square kilometer in Iceland, so it´s a huge land in that sense. Granted, tourists are increasingly flowing into the country, but it´s still easy to be alone in nature, seeing no human being as far as the eye can reach.

Trail Running in Iceland Through the Eyes of a Non Local Trail Runner

To me, Iceland is incredibly beautiful, but it’s ordinary as well, because this is where I’m from and where I live. Huge trees and forests is a different experience for me while a lot of people find such beauty ordinary. When I’ve been abroad for an extended period and get back to Iceland, I am once again reminded how unique my country is and how privileged I am to get to run in such a wonderland whenever I choose.

So perhaps I am not the right person to describe the wonders of trail running in Iceland. To give you an insight into what people tend to experience when running here for the first time, we will take a peak through the eyes of Sasha Brown, a seasoned trail runner from Vancouver who came with her partner Brian McCurdy (who took the picture). The following words are excerpts from an article Sasha wrote about their experience in Iceland:

“Imagine the most beautiful alpine you have ever seen, add in a singletrack. Now throw in a few powerful waterfalls, stark black lava, glaciers, and some steamy hot springs. Imagine that this alpine extends for thousands of kilometers and give yourself 24 hours of daylight during which to explore this wonderland. Welcome to Iceland.”

“At one point on this trail, I stopped suddenly in amazement, turned completely around and then just start laughing at the absurdity of so much beauty in one spot. Majestic glaciers, ravaged ragged rock walls, vibrantly green valleys and multi-colored rhyolite mountains were all within view. Experiences like this are difficult to catch in words, pictures help, but also fall short.”

Picture by Brian McCurdy

Sasha running in Iceland

Unique Trail Running Adventures

So if you´re looking for a unique trail running adventure, you have come to the right place. The trail Sasha was describing here above is called Laugavegurinn (not to be confused with the main street in Reykjavík which bares the same name) and Fimmvörðuháls. I´ll be guiding this three day running trip in August and I believe there is still room.

There is another three day running tour we are doing in July called Dettifoss trail. That´s the one Sasha describes early on in her article. Read the rest of her article here in Trail Running Canada, starting at page 20. Both of those running adventures are likely to become your favorite trail run of all times!

 Tell Me

  • What is the most unique trail run you’ve done?
  • If you have run in Icelandic nature, please describe your experience.
  • Have you ever hired a running guide before? How was that experience?



“By Far my Favorite Trail Run of all Times”

The Most Common Response

As a running guide at Arctic Running, I have the privilege of running through some amazing landscape with people who have never seen Icelandic nature before. In noting the reaction and feedback I get, there is emerging a pattern. They all rate the adventure as their favorite run of all times.

Discover Icelandic Nature through Guided Running!

As wonderful as running in the city of Reykjavík is—and all customers I´ve run with have been truly happy with their city runs—it lacks the uniqueness of running in raw Icelandic nature. That´s what really leaves people flabbergasted. And there is no better way to experience nature than by running through it.

If you´re anything like me, trail running is all about adventure and challenge. It´s about discovering an hitherto unconceivable beautiful trail with enough technical challenge to keep the primitive caveman (or woman) in you happy. Imagine three days of such an adventure where each day surpasses the next in awe and wonder. And all you have to do is run and enjoy. Food and lodging is provided and your stuff is taken care of. To top it of, your guide (which happens to be a lot of fun being around :)) makes sure you get the most of your trip…well and makes sure you don’t get lost.

Wait a minute. Isn’t discovering your own trails part of the fun? Yes, that’s true. And if you stay in Iceland for a few months, I would encourage you to do just that (provided you’ve done your homework). But if you’re coming for a limited time, you should hire a running guide to secure you get as much as possible out of your adventure. In fact, along with “This now my favorite run of all times”, the most common feedback I get from people is: “Man, I’m glad I didn’t do this on my own.”

Why You Should Hire a Running Guide

You see, a lot of our customers tell us they were thinking of discovering running routes for themselves. But they are all relieved they decided to hire us. One reason is that you are unlikely to find the most beautiful routes without a local guide.

Another reason—a more sobering one—is that Icelandic nature is still so raw and untouched that it can be really easy to get lost. The fact is that tourists that are mountaineering on their own are getting lost regularly and the Icelandic rescue team, based on volunteers, has to come and save them. Unfortunately, they are not always successful and the sad truth is that far too many people have lost their lives this way.

Is Your Favorite Run of All Times Just Around the Corner?

So if you are looking for that once in a life time, unique, awe inspiring running adventure, look no further. I haven’t yet met a customer whose response wasn’t something like: “This is by far my favorite run ever” or “This is much better than I expected”. Check out our website and run wild!

Tell Me

What is your favorite trail run so far? It would be fun if you would comment below and share your treasure with the rest of us!

One happy Running Guide doing our three day Dettifoss Trail adventure!

One happy Running Guide doing our three day Dettifoss Trail adventure!