The surface of the frozen lake Baikal is covered in fields of “hummocks”, small hills of ice rubble. Beneath the ice surface, geothermic springs and seismic activity cause localized melting that sometimes may weaken the ice to form holes (though the average ice on Lake Baikal in this part is over 1 meter and a half which allows trucks and vehicles up to 10 ton in weight to drive on the ice). The race “Ice Captain” and his team of volunteers and the Baikal Ice Marathon support team have the task of plotting a safe course. To get well prepared for the laying of the ice course about a month and half before the Baikal Marathon the organizers of the Baikal Ice Marathon study satellite photos of the ice surface of Baikal to see how the lake freezes the current winter in order to locate possible stable ice cracks that sometimes can be up to 8 km long.
A week before the Marathon we go on and lay preliminary Marathon course. The final course (42 km 195 m or 26 miles) is laid immediately preceding the race, otherwise movements in the ice can render the support team’s effort redundant. The course for the race of Baikal Marathon is also checked by the Emergency and Rescue Committee staff before being approved as safe to drive the vans and run on the ice. On the Baikal Ice Marathon race day itself, competitors are ferried by vans from Listvyanka to Tankhoy train station, located on the opposite shore of Lake Baikal. Prior to the start of the race, competitors some years are required to partake in the precautionary ritual of “vodka sprinkling”, in order to pacify the spirits of the Great Baikal (introducing the novel element of starting a marathon with a shot of vodka).
The course is predominantly flat, but the surface is hard at times and uneven. Although it’s mostly covered in a soft layer f snow, there are areas of highly polished ice that create conditions similar to an ice-rink. Wind can add to the already bitingly cold temperature and provide serious resistance to progress across Lake Baikal. Though, often the weather is sunny and with no chill factor one can even get some suntan. The utterly featureless landscape gives little or no sense of perspective to competitors. The finish line at the port of Listvyanka can be seen almost from the start line. It is a long, cold, lonely (if not to count the mobile 8 to 10 feed and drink stands) 42,2 km trail across the baren white landscape, where progress is marked only by checkpoints positioned at 5 km intervals (with hot drinks, food and, for the brave - some more vodka). Join us for a fantastic running experience across Lake Baikal in Russia. The opportunity to run on the ice-frozen surface of Lake Baikal and cross this world’s deepest, largest and oldest fresh water on the run – 1400 meters above the bottom – is just one-of-a-kind.
- Day 1, March 04: Irkutsk to Listvyanka. Upon arrival in Irkutsk – meeting and transfer to Listvyanka settlement located in the outflow of the Angara river from Lake Baikal and 62 km from the city of Irkutsk. Check in at the hotel of your choice (3-star hotel facilities or guest lodges as per your prior choice and booking). After some time at leisure – a guided tour of the Baikal Ecology Museum which unique exhibition unfolds in a truly exciting story about the world’s deepest and largest fresh water lake. After the tour – have time to explore the ice covered vicinity of Lake Baikal. Overnight at your hotel - guest lodge.
- Day 2, March 05: This day is yours to explore the vicinity of Listvyanka on your own or go on optional snowmobile or Baikal sled-dog tours. After lunch – meeting with the Baikal Ice Marathon representative for registration procedure, listen to the orientation lecture on the upcoming the next day race, have then some running exercise on the ice of Lake Baikal. Overnight at your hotel in Listvyanka.
- Day 3, March 06: VI-th Baikal International Ice Marathon – “Baikal Clear Waters Conservation Run”:
* After early breakfast – transfer to the start of the Baikal Ice Marathon course on the opposite, eastern shore of Lake Baikal, at the station of Tankhoy
* 11:00 am Final Baikal Ice Marathon Course registration
* 11:30 am Start of the VI-th Baikal Ice Marathon Race (full and half marathon distance)
* 2.30 pm The registered runners who do not reach the half-marathon finish point (21 km) are disqualified and will have to continue the rest of the course to Listvyanka on the Marathon support team vehicle (either a 4_WD van or hovercraft)
* 5:00 pm End of the VI-th Baikal International Ice Marathon
* 6:00 – 07.00 pm Award ceremony, press-conference
* 7:30 pm Opening of Baikal Ice Marathon Reception Dinner by Mr. Alexey Nikiforov, the Founder of the Baikal Ice Marathon, "Absolute Siberia" Events and Expeditions Bureau Managing Director. Overnight at your hotel, guest lodge in Listvyanka.
- Day 4, March 7: After breakfast check out from the hotel for a transfer to Irkutsk (65 km) to take your flight, train.
There’s an option for a short extension of the Baikal Ice Marathon package - which is offered below.
- Day 4, March 07: Listvyanka to Irkutsk. After breakfast check out from the hotel to depart from Listvyanka to Irkutsk. En route visit Taltsy Open-Air Museum of Wooden Architecture – a living legacy of Siberian history and its traditions. The museums unique exhibition of original wooden structures complete with home utensils and items dating back to the 18th - 20th centuries unfolds in a true story about the peoples of Siberia: Buryats, Evenks and Russians. Besides just seeing the unique museum exhibits we will try here the real Siberian pan-cakes with tea from Russian samovar and have a chance together with local Russians to celebrate Russian Maslenitsa Farewell to Winter festival (Shrovetide Holiday) with much amusement and folk games in which you’re welcome to take part. Upon arrival in Irkutsk we check in at the centrally located hotel (3-star).
- Day 5, March 08: Irkutsk tour. Before lunch enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Irkutsk. During the tour today we’ll visit the city’s historical center and its most atmospheric sights, including Znamenskaya Orthodox Cathedral, noted for its original iconostasis, grave of the so-called “Russian Columbus” Grigory Shelekhov and graves of the Decembrists - revolutionaries banned to Siberia after an ill-fated attempt in 1825 to overthrow the Russian tzar; we will also have opportunities to take pictures of richly carved old-style wooden houses, see the Monument to Russian Pioneers of Siberia topped by the bronze figure of Alexander-the 3rd, the White House of Siberian Province. Then you will have some time free to explore the city on your own before we return back at the hotel for dinner and overnight
- Day 6, March 09: After breakfast check out from the hotel for a transfer to the airport to take flight to Moscow.
Notes: Deadline for registration: January 25
“The far reaches of Siberia may not be the first choice destinations for many endurance athletes, who may prefer instead the warmer, and more glamorous, climes. But for those that brave the splendid Russian winter, the reward is a fantastic race, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, on a one-off running surface of the Great Baikal". (Kym McConel and Dave Horsley).
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