World’s Coldest Marathon Held in the “Coldest Town on Earth”

Sixty-five runners braved minus 63 degree Fahrenheit temperatures to run the 2022 marathon, half, and 5k races in the Russian region of Yakutia.

By on January 26, 2022 | Leave a reply

Last weekend, runners took part in what participants called the “world’s coldest marathon.” The event, held in Yakutia, one of the northernmost republics of Russia, had a total of 65 participants from around the globe. The event also featured a couple of shorter races.

If you like your races ultra crazy and ultra challenging, then this one is for you. While there are other marathons and ultramarathons out there that take place in the extremes of latitude, such as the Iditarod Trail Invitational and the Antarctic Ice Marathon, none on record have been quite as cold as this third-annual event in Yakutia.

Russia World's Coldest Marathon

Runners take part in the world’s coldest marathon at minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius) near the village of Oymyakon, in the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, Russian Far East, on Saturday, January 22, 2022. Sixty-five runners, including athletes from the United Arab Emirates, United States, and Belarus, started the run at extremely low temperatures in Oymyakon, Yakutia’s Pole of Cold. Photo: AP Photo/Ivan Nikiforov

Bundled-up spectators cheered as runners set off on the frosty route, which begins in the remote Russian village of Oymyakon, and finishes in the equally remote locality of Tomtor, Russia. Oymyakon and Tomtor together hold less than 2,000 people, the majority of whom work in the fishing and fur trades.

Known as the “Pole of Cold,” Oymyakon’s average winter temperature hovers around a chilling minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 50 degrees Celsius). It’s generally considered the coldest inhabited place on Earth. The low temperature recorded on race day registered at a bone-chilling minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius).

Even in the summer, the average high is only about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Omyakon’s cold is due to a few factors: it’s far inland, away from any temperature-moderating effects of oceans, and it sits in a valley surrounded by high mountains, creating a microclimate, similar to the one in Stanley, Idaho, for those who are familiar with that region’s chilly Sawtooth Mountains winters.

Local runner Vasily Lukin won the full marathon distance with a time of 3:22. The win marked the second time Lukin, a teacher from Churapcha Institute of Physical Culture and Sport, has claimed first place in this extreme event.

“Thanks to organizers who managed to overcome all complications caused by the [COVID-19] pandemic. I’d love to see more runners from across the republic, Russia, and abroad in future marathons,” Vasily said in a post-race interview with The Siberian Times.

Russia World's Coldest Marathon

Vasily Lukin wins the world’s coldest marathon at minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius) near Oymyakon, the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, Russian Far East, on Saturday, January 22, 2022. Photo: AP Photo/Ivan Nikiforov

On the women’s side, the top spot went to another local runner, Marina Sedalischeva, who covered the distance in 4:09.

In the half marathon, Vasily Spiridonov took top honors for the men in 1:36, and Ulyana Barashkova finished as the first woman in 2:05.

The year 2022 marks the third year that Yakutia has hosted the frigid races. This year’s event was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Yakutia’s establishment as an autonomous republic status within the former Soviet Union.

Call for Comments

  • Brrrr! What’s the coldest temperatures you’ve ever run in? And how about your coldest race?
  • We were unable to find an official race website or more information on how to participate in this event. If anyone can find it, please let us know!
APTOPIX Russia World's Coldest Marathon

A participant of the world’s coldest marathon near Oymyakon, the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, Russian Far East, on Saturday, January 22, 2022. Photo: AP Photo/Ivan Nikiforov

Kristen Arendt

is a freelance writer and editor specializing in the outdoors. Based in Niwot, Colorado, she ran competitively for over a decade on the track and roads before finding her love for trails.