First race: April 22, 1935. Seven skiers registered.
Highest number of participants in main race: Highest number of participants in main race: 363 (2016)
Highest total number of participants: 499 (2016)
Worldloppet membership: since 2014
Fossavatnsgangan, Fossavatn Ski Marathon, was established in 1935. The initial race was 18 km long and there were no problems with overcrowded tracks, as only seven skiers showed up for the occasion. The race was held annually until 1940 but was then discontinued. It was revived in 1955 and has never been cancelled since. For the first several decades the distance was always around 20 km and the start was close to the lake Fossavatn, from which the race takes its name. Skiers of today would probably find this to be an odd place to start a ski race. It had no facilities, only a huge rock and a flag pole. There were no shelters or washrooms, not even a road to take you there. In fact, to get to the start you either had to endure an hour‘s mountain hike, or drive a rough mountain road up to the half-way point of the race and ski 10 km “backwards” to the start.
In the late 1980s two shorter distances were introduced and in 2004 the 50 km distance was skied for the first time. The start has been moved from the original site, but the big rock over there now marks the half-way point of the 50 km race.
Fossavatnsgangan has been on the FIS calendar since 2005. At the Worldloppet AGM in Riva del Garda in June 2014, the race was accepted as a Worldloppet Associate Member.
Start/finish area in Seljalandsdalur, coordinates: 66°04’01.4″N; 23°11’41.1″W
Race centre:Isafjordur, Toftens Sports Hall, coordinates: 66°04’24.2″N 23°08’00.8″W
50 km course parameters:
Start altitude: 290 m
Highest point: 614 m
Longest climb: 115 m
Total climb: 1250 m
All Fossavatn courses (50 km, 25 km, 10 km, 5 km and 1 km) were redesigned in 2013. The 50 km distance is done in a single loop, starting and finishing at the ski area in Seljalandsdalur, some 10 minutes’ drive from downtown Isafjordur. The first 4 km of the course are mostly uphill, and in fact you should be prepared for some strenuous skiing all the way up to the 15 km mark. This first part is followed by some quite easy 10 km down to the half-way point, close to the lake Fossavatn. After the turnaround, the next 8 km are a steady climb from around 340 m altitude up to 614 m, which is the highest point of the course. This climb is followed by an easy stretch of around 8 km until the final climb starts. This climb is around 3 km long and ends with Miðfellsháls, the most notorious hill on this course. After that, though, the last 6-7 km are all downhill, right to the finish line.
HOW TO GET TO THE FOSSAVATNSGANGAN
Reykjavik/Keflavik international airport can be reached from most major airports in Europe and numerous airports in the US and Canada. From there you can:
- Fly with Air Iceland from the Reykjavik domestic airport to Isafjordur. There are two flights per day and they only take 40 minutes.
- Rent a car and drive to Isafjordur. The distance is 455 km and the drive takes 5-6 hours.
Air Iceland and Hertz car rental are Fossavatn partners. Travel packages: www.wildwestfjords.com/fossavatn
As for accommodation, the area has numerous hotels, guesthouses and self-catering apartments in the area. Hotel Isafjordur is a Fossavatn partner.
For any inquiries regarding the race or your travel, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHERE TO SLEEP
The Icelandic name for Fossavatn Ski Marathon is Fossavatnsgangan. Short and simple!
In 2015, Fossavatnsgangan celebrated its 80th anniversary, being on the FIS calendar for 10 years and, of course, the first year as a member of the Worldloppet family.
The most successful skier in the history of Fossavatn is Kristján Rafn Gudmundsson. He won the race twelve times in the sixties and seventies, when the main distance was 20 km. Gudmundsson is still a very active skier, not only in the Fossavatn but also in Vasaloppet in Sweden, where he has raced over twenty times.
The 50 km distance has been skied 11 times since it was first introduced at the Fossavatn. The most successful male skiers are Oskar Svärd and Markus Jönsson, both from Sweden, who each has won the race two times. On the ladies´ side, US skiers Linda Ramsdell and Mary Beth Tuttle have also each won twice.
One of Iceland’s biggest nature reserves, Hornstrandir, is just north of Isafjordur. Adventure tours to there, which include back country skiing and sea kayaking just a few miles from the Arctic Circle, are available.
Those who drive to Isafjordur will have the opportunity to stop on the way and bathe in some of the natural, open air, geothermal hot pools in the area. Those pools are accessible winter and summer, day and night. Contact us for further directions.