What Have We Won?: The Hardest Race In The World - The Reykjavik Grapevine

What Have We Won?: The Hardest Race In The World

What Have We Won?: The Hardest Race In The World

Published January 7, 2019

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photos by
Screenshot From Film

None of us here at the Grapevine can run 1 km without thinking we will die. We’re a collection of drinkers, smokers, couch potatoes and DJs—not the most athletic bunch around. So, when we heard that Elísabet Margeirsdóttir won the women’s division of the 400 km Ultra Gobi Marathon in October 2018—simultaneuosy becoming the first woman to do so in under 100 hours—we all fell to our knees to bow to our new Goddess.

All hail Elísabet

“Elísabet had to pass through a river in the night, which caused her shoes to freeze. Yet, the absolute legend persisted.”

Running a marathon is cool, an ultramarathon impressive, but running the Ultra Gobi Marathon is pretty much HOLY $H!T level action. The race is a non-stop, self-navigated, and self-supported ultramarathon held in the southern Gobi Desert in Western China. This means that runners have no trail to follow and instead rely on archaic objects like compasses, all the while holding all the food and supplies they will need throughout the race.

Elísabet completed the race in 96 hours and 54 minutes, dealing with temperatures ranging from 30° during the day to -10° at night. Apparently, she only rested for four hours during the entire race—and, according to her, this was only to avoid having the crazy hallucinations people often get during long races. Seriously, you thought the Icelandic men’s football team was badass? They get to sleep in beds and wear clean socks. Sit down, boys.

Ice cold

At one point in the race, Elísabet had to pass through a river in the night, which caused her shoes to freeze . Yet, the absolute legend persisted. “If you believe in yourself and trust what you’re doing, that does a lot. Also, the anticipation and excitement to finish keeps you going,” she said of the experience.

Elísabet, seriously, you should be a national hero. We’ll crowdfund the statue.


If you so please, you can check out an interview with Elísabet by Pétur Einarsson below:


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