Running Iceland: #fuelledbytribe

We sent GB ultra runner Robbie Britton a bundle of Tribe Packs for his sub-Arctic 300k run across Iceland. In this guest blog, Robbie tells the story of his adventure.

Main Photo: The Road to Laugavegur Photo by James Elson

Who likes an adventure?

This October James Elson and I managed to run across Iceland, starting in Akureyri in the North and working our way across the vast Icelandic Highlands all the way to the South Coast. It was definitely an adventure.

Whilst it wasn’t any easy challenge, from day one we faced issues with the weather, our support vehicle, the weather, missing bridges, the weather and, I’m not sure I mentioned, but the weather. The week began with strong headwinds, in the face hail, snow storms and rain, but this was all part of the challenge. We wanted to be put ourselves outside of our comfort zones, in a beautiful place that we both wanted to visit, and the captivating views of distant ice fields only made us want to explore more.

By day 5 we had reached the Laugavegur trail, albeit it an ordeal to get there. The hut warden at the base of the trail told us that nobody went along the route this time of year, it was just too dangerous. We had come a long way to just turn around without trying, so we headed out to check things out for ourselves. Winter days in Scotland and the Lake District had us ready for all conditions but sometimes the weather just says no.

Heading up to the first main col we started to get hit by a fierce wind from the side, gusting up to 65-70 miles per hour. We roughly knew the speed because that’s the level of wind that throws James off of his feet. We linked arms and continued into the gale.

As we approached the high point, about 8km into a 70km day we had planned across one of the more beautiful regions of Iceland, the clouds started to come in. The wind remained constant and the rain had soaked us through. One or two of these contributing factors might not have stopped us but with low visibility, poor weather, high winds and the possibility of other issues further along the trail, we had little choice but to make a difficult decision. We turned back.

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Photo by Natalie White

Adventure and challenge is what we wanted but not to the extent that we put our lives at risk, or others having to rescue the “foolhardy, bordering on reckless English adventurers,” as one Icelandic magazine described us. The risks were ours alone and we did not want to change that.

What all this meant was that we had to turn around and find an alternative route that wasn’t blocked by bad weather and flooded rivers. If we wanted to finish within seven days, we had to take on a monster 99km. All in one day. All on punishing road. Luckily we’re good at churning out the miles. We set off early, the snow flew directly into our faces and the cruel winds were still against us, but we made it across in one piece.

Reaching the water on the southern side of Iceland was a great moment. Not overly emotional but satisfying that we had overcome adversity and the obstacles set in our way, enjoyed ourselves and had a real adventure. It was a start of things to come because James and I both believe you should get out and have your own adventures, whether it’s crossing Iceland or running around your local woods in the night.

Thanks to Tribe for sending oversome fuel for the trip. Where do your Tribe Packs take you?

By Robbie Britton, GB Ultra Runner