(Correne Coetzer) Jukka Viljanen sent over news, announcing his and Greg Maud's next adventure, a run across Greenland in April.
"We are aiming to be the first persons to run across the Ice Cap. Well, actually we are running a little bit more i.e., from coast to coast (east-west)." They plan to start at Isortoq and at Kangerlussuaq.
He added a reminder about another Greenland first; 125 years ago, in 1888, Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his team were the first to ski across Greenland.
Greg and Jukka met in 2008 on Antarctica when Greg summited Vinson and Jukka ran 100 km at Patriot Hills. In 2010 they ran 1000 km across the Kalahari in Botswana and they are now heading to an ice field again.
In December 2012 Jukka and Greg had their first training camp in Lapland, testing their gear while running in temperatures between -7°C and -22°C. Jukka says they are due to have a second training camp in Finnish Lapland during the first week of February. "We hope it will be very cold and windy up there :-)"
ExplorersWeb: You start at Isortoq. How do you get here?
Jukka and Greg: We plan to fly via Iceland: Reykjavik to Kulusuk, Greenland to Tassiliaq to Isortoq.
ExplorersWeb: Planned start date?
Jukka and Greg: Arrive in Greenland on 12 April and start shortly thereafter.
ExplorersWeb: What would you say would be the most challenging about this run?
Jukka and Greg: The surface conditions and weather.
ExplorersWeb: How many kilometers do you plan to run on average?
Jukka and Greg: 35 – 40 km per day, excluding bad weather days. We’re going to have to be quite flexible to allow for varying surface and weather conditions.
ExplorersWeb: What shoes will you wear?
Jukka and Greg: We will take at least two models of shoes – one with metal studs for traction on icy sections.
ExplorersWeb: You both have experience in running in sand/deserts. How does that compare to running in snow?
Jukka and Greg: Running in snow is hard work – especially soft and deep snow sections where we will have to use snowshoes. As a Finn, Jukka has gained experience running in snow. He has also participated running & MTB races in North Pole and Antarctica.
ExplorersWeb: Surely you don't want to sweat. What clothes will you wear? How will you manage your body temperature? Will you have face protection or just glasses?
Jukka and Greg: We’ve had one training camp in Lapland in December and will be back there for a second training camp in early February. We’ve been fine tuning our gear and clothing systems to manage moisture while working hard in cold conditions.
Key will be layering of merino wool and synthetic insulation and light-weight Gore-Tex to keep out the wind. Keeping hands warm and our faces protected will also be important especially during the first part of the run onto the icecap where we will be running into the prevailing katabatic winds.
ExplorersWeb: You have the two dog teams supporting you. How close will they stay with you during the day? Are you wearing small backpacks? What will you take with you, in terms of food and drinks and crevasses rescue equipment, rain clothes?
Jukka and Greg: The dogsled teams will stay quite close to us during the run. Towards the end of each day, once we are approaching our overnight stop one team will go ahead to start setting up camp so that we have a tent to get into quite quickly.
During the day we will be running with small backpacks with water, snacks, emergency shelter, a set of warm clothes and communications gear. We’ll be trying to keep this as light as possible but want to make sure we have enough with us to cope in an emergency.
We’ll also have crevasse rescue equipment but only anticipate needing to rope up in close to the coasts where there is a greater risk of crevasses.
ExplorersWeb: Will the dog teams do the navigation for you? Make camp for you?
Jukka and Greg: The dog teams will help to make camp for us, although this is likely to involve all of our effort – especially when the weather is not good. They will also help with navigation although we will be using GPS while we run as well.
ExplorersWeb: Why would you say has nobody tried running across Greenland yet?
Jukka and Greg: Crossing Greenland by skis is a great adventure, but we wanted to try something a little bit different. I think that most people would not think of Greenland as a running destination and that may be why no one has tried a run crossing before. The challenge of unpredictable and varying surface conditions will also add to the difficulty of running across.
From: South Africa (living in London)
2007 Summited Mt Everest (8,850m)
2008 Cape Epic Mountain Bike race (950km)
2008 Summited Vinson Massif, Antarctic
2010 Kalahari 1000 (1,000km run over 20 days)
2011 Marathon des Sables (250km)
From: Espoo, Finland (www.sportman.fi)
2007 North Pole Marathon, North Pole Bike Extreme (MTB marathon)
2008 Libyan Sahara Ultramarathon (195km)
2008 Antarctic Ice Marathon (100km)
2010 Kalahari 1000 (1,000km run over 20 days)
2012 Sahara run 1,609km (A solo run across Sahara over 31 days
Greenland Run info courtesy of the website: The run will cross the full width of Greenland from coast to coast. The team will start at the small town of Isortoq on the east coast. Over the first day or two they will have to ascend onto the icecap and are likely to face steep terrain and loose snow. Once onto the icecap we will gradually ascend over the next 240km or so until we reach the high point at 2,500m.
From there the gradient will ease and they will start a very gradual descent over the next 380km to the west coast. They will be aiming for the town of Kangerlussuaq, which is located at the end of a long fjord. The route will cover approximately 620km and will be almost entirely on ice/snow. We will cross the Arctic Circle (66º33’44”) and pass the inactive Dye 2 early warning station.
During the run we will be supported by two local dogsled teams that will accompany us along the route as well as a guide experienced in polar travel. This logistical support is provided by Bigice.
Duration: 15 – 20 days (depending on weather and surface conditions)
Weather: Temperatures as low as -30C
Support: accompanied by two dogsled team. Provided by Bigice
This expedition (and other expeditions/ adventures/ projects with RSS feeds) can be followed in the live Dispatch stream at the Pythom App for iPhone/iPad and on Android as well as at ExplorersWeb.
ExplorersWeb Expedition List
Debrief Jukka Viljanen’s Sahara Run: sandstorms and soldiers and book release
Wrap up: The Trans-Kalahari Run a success
Greenland Run website
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