Iceland: Running Highlights

‘Golden Circle’ Running Highlights

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The label ‘Golden Circle’ refers to the sightseeing highlights off the Ring Road in the southwest part of Iceland, within a day’s drive from Reykjavik. Those trying to do the Circle in a day will have scant time for a run. But if you do it a more leisurely pace, there are some wonderful running opportunities. Just about anywhere will make for an awesome run, but here are a few highlights:

Reykjavik. See our more than 10 great runs in Reykjavik, including more than 20 km of coastal path. Full information.

Trail Run Just East of Reykjavik. Hellisheiði has some great walking trails that are good for running, with stunning mountain, water, and valley views.

Run to Hot Spring in Hveragerdi. A wonderful hike/run along the Reykjadalur, to a natural river hot spring. A couple of steeper spots, but runnable on this wide path that sits between mountain ranges, with hot springs billowing in the breeze. Your reward is a soak in natural river hot springs. Or, walk up, take a soak, and run all the way to the village. Full information.

Pingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park. The historical heartland of Iceleand, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many running opportunities here on the hiking trails, which are generally flat and are a good surface. Say you’ve run where two tectonic plates meet by going along the Almannagjá fault! Other good running on trails around the abandoned farms of Hrauntún, Skógarkot and Vatnskot, and the well-signed ~2 km path to the Öxarárfoss Waterfall, plus numerous other trails around there.

The Blue Lagoon Run. One of the most visited sites in Iceland. For a pre-soak run (and to justify the exorbitant entry fee), here’s a great 10k run that features lava fields with geothermal water, mountains in the distance and smoke rising out of the earth. From our friends at Running in Iceland. Full route details.

Reynisfjara Beach. Near the southern town of Vik, this is among the most spectacular black sand beaches in the world. Enormous basalt stacks, roaring waves and stunning panoramas.

Run the Midnight Sun. For about a month, the sun barely sets in parts of Iceland. It’s sort of a treat to run at 11 pm. The light is unique, and your running app will do a double take at the late night start. For a special treat, the Midnight Sun Run takes place in Reykjavik around the Solstice. Half Marathon, 10k, and 5k distances start at 21:00 (9pm!), and the race is followed by a midnight dip in the Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool.

Run in Really Bad Weather. There are lots of places that are colder and snowier than Iceland. But if you get a really bad day — wind, snow, mist, cold, blowing dust — you can have a run that the Tough Mudder folks could only dream of!  Better yet, do it near the winter Solstice, either in the dark or during the ~4 hours of daylight. A good opportunity to give your Yak-Traks and cold weather/waterproof gear a workout.

Run on a Glacier. No, just kidding. Iceland’s glaciers are best conquered with crampons, a good guide, and a baby waddle walk.