Coming to Svalbard was my dream for a long time and the timing of its yearly marathon could not be better; 1 June 2024 –great way to celebrate international kids’ day as a 29-year-old, right?

Svalbard Marathon was going to be my first half marathon and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into! I enjoy running and I’ve been doing it quite frequently, had some shorter distances under my belt, but this – running over 20km – was new to me! Adding to that, it was my first time in the Arctic summer – so what should I expect?

When the day of the race came, I felt ready, both on the physical and psychological level. The previous days I spent discovering the other side of the fjord, observing wildlife (which was fulfilling on so many levels!) and enjoying slow way of life in Longyearbyen. I’m glad I took a few days of holidays before the running event because it allowed me to breathe more deeply and mentally get rid of all what’s fluffy and unnecessary in my brain. I feel like I lost all the heaviness that surrounded me 2 weeks before the race and I felt ready for what’s about to come.

Photo made by Spitsbergen Marathon


Once I arrived at the sport hall, where the start point was, I was amazed by the positivity you could feel there. There were over 200 athletes participating in the half marathon and so, it was a rather cosy gathering compared to other races I took part in.

Already at the beginning, I started off much faster than expected, keeping an eye on my Zone 2 heart rate. The first bit was a bit uphill, but after the first 2km or so, the road flattened and gradually went downhill, which I used to my advantage. Even though my pace was faster than during my training sessions, it felt immensely good, and it made my mindset much more positive because the experience was much, so far, better than in my imagination.

Photo made by Spitsbergen Marathon

The views… I could look at the fjord forever. What I might have lacked in the muscles strength, I compensated with my mind. I was just happy to be there, exploring the corners of the town that I haven’t ventured into by myself the days before. The photos don’t do the justice to the beauty that we were surrounded with.

That mind became especially important after we hit ca. 12km. It was already the biggest distance I ever covered, and we were running along the coast towards the airport. I felt my strength diminishing and I wondered if it’s because I didn’t drink enough, or maybe should have eaten more snacks (thank you sugary fruit rolls for keeping me up this long). In that moment, I decided it will be best to create the “wolf pack” with someone, and so, I joined two other women who were running at the steady pace in front of me. I decided to not let them get away and I glued myself to their back. This strategy worked out pretty well as they carried me until the last 3 km or so.

The last uphill segment totally drained my energy, and I knew if I stopped running at that point, I would not be able to pick up my pace anymore. So I moved like a snail, placing one foot in front of the other, and decided I will continue running even if it’s tough. I feel like the training sessions with Jon, especially the mindful runs that were part of our training routine, were extremely helpful at that point! The road from the airport to the finish line was more gravel and mud, rather than the asphalt or more steady path we had until that point. It was a struggle, but at no point I thought I want to quit.

Photo made by Spitsbergen Marathon

Reflecting now a bit more on how the race went, I’m extremely grateful to Jon for the training he customized for me as it truly prepared me for all moments (high and low) I experienced during the run. I crossed the finish line tired but amazed at what I’ve accomplished! Arctic summer 5 Celsius degrees or so turned out to be great weather to run in and each part of the run was incredible in its own way. I would definitely love to come back soon to explore even more of Svalbard and perhaps repeat the run in a few years!


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