Challenge in Greenland
The Arctic Circle Race, normally held in three stages on the west coast of Greenland, is regarded as the hardest cross country race in the world. What makes it so demanding are the unpredictability of the conditions, kilometre after kilometre of climbing and spending the night in tents at a camp with double-figure temperatures below zero. This year the first stage had to be cancelled due to a blizzard, but the two following daily distances were lengthened as a result. This meant competitors were left facing a total of 122 kilometres in the classic technique through the ice and snow of Greenland. Out of 122 registered starters, just 71 made it to the finish line.
Freimuth in a class of his own
As the first stage got under way on the Saturday, Thomas Freimuth, competing for the Fischer Subaru Nordic Racing Team in the FIS Marathon Cup, demonstrated that he is one of the world's best distance cross country skiers. He left World Cup athletes such as Denmark's Jonas Thor Olsen and Greenland's Oystein Slettemark trailing behind him by over eleven minutes. After spending the night in a tent with the temperature at minus 25 degrees, the 28-year-old was again in a class of his own on day two, which saw him increase his overall lead to 19 minutes – comfortable enough to see him cross the finish line ahead of second-placed Simon Dreyer (SUI, Fischer). "That was certainly the toughest race of my career and I'm absolutely delighted to have won here," said Freimuth, after clinching victory.
Greenland racer wins ladies' race, Spaniards make it to the finish
The women's race went to the young racer from Greenland, Niviaq Berthelsen. Berthelsen left fellow Greenlander and firm favourite Uiloq Slettemark clearly behind her in second place. While most of the competitors had already showered, been to the victory ceremony and were already in the middle of their evening meal, the numerous volunteer helpers were on their Ski-Doos to accompany the last two racers - a couple from Spain – across the finish line. It may have taken them two and a half times longer than the winner to complete the course, but their impressions and experiences from the race by far outweighed any sense of disappointment.
Arctic Circle Race, Greenland
1. Thomas Freimuth GER Fischer Racing Team
2. Simon Dreyer SUI Fischer Ski und Schuhe
1. Niviaq Chemnitz Berthelsen GRL Fischer