No One Could Finish the Coldest Marathon in the World


All frosted up: Sweating at -52C. Photo: The Siberian Times

They don’t call Oymyakon the Pole of the Cold for nothing: In February, 1933, this continental Siberian town recorded the coldest-ever temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -67.7C (-90F) . Even today, -60C is not uncommon. Local Siberians refer to the -40s as warm.

Tourists from all over the world — a few, anyway — come to Oymyakon in January to experience cold so profound that long tusks of ice form on faces from nasal drip. In the mind of one man, it was the perfect place to host the coldest marathon on the planet.

Alexander Krylov, the owner of the local Turuu Tour Agency, organized races of 5, 10, 20, 30 and 42 kilometres. It ran on January 5 for the first time, in -52C. Sixteen runners ages 21 to 71, including some serious competitors, came from all over Russia to participate. No one managed to complete the full 42km. Tellingly, even most Russians found the cold “unbearable”. The farthest anyone ran was 39km: a hardy local, Ilya Pesterev, head of the nearby village of Emissa, took that prize. Anastasia Stepanova, a mother of eight, made it to 25km.

Volosin trotting along. Photo:

Last week, nine days after the inaugural Oymyakon marathon, an even hardier figure showed up in town. Dmitry Voloshin from the eastern European country of Moldova was a veteran of the comparatively mild North Pole marathon. Now, in Oymyakon, he ran 50km by himself, in -60C. His six-hour sufferfest was literally breathtaking, as he said “there is very little oxygen in the air”. There’s actually more oxygen than usual in dense, cold air, but it’s hard to tap into when your face mask is clogged with ice.


About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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James Friesen
James Friesen
2 years ago

Its truly amazing what people will (try to ) do for no reason other than an ego trip.