In a nutshell:
The first 15 km are tough as you work your way from 290 m altitude up to 614 m. From there you have a fairly easy 10 km descend towards Nónvatn and Engidalur, to the turning point at “Steinn” (approximately 26 km). The next 4 km are not easy and are followed by a very long and demanding climb up to Fellsháls. After that you have a long section in a gentle terrain, before the final climb up the notorious Miðfellsháls. From there, the last 7 km are all flat or downhill.
Start: 290 m.a.s.
Highest part: 614 m.a.s. (Fellsháls)
Elevation : 324 m
Longest climb: 115 m (up the Miðfellsháls, after approx.42 km)
Total climb: 1250 m
Feeding stations (distance between):
Start - Búrfell 5,2 km
Búrfell - Heiðin 4,5 km
Heiðin - Nónvatn 9,7 km
Nónvatn - Nónvatn 8,3 km
Nónvatn - Heiðin 6,7 km
Heiðin - Búrfell 5,4 km
Búrfell - Finish 10,2 km
You start from the ski house at Seljalandsdalur like all the other distances. The first kilometer is an easy loop around the start area, but the next kilometer is mostly a steep and difficult climb up to Háabrún, one of the most picturesque points of the course. The view from there over the fjord Skutulsfjörður is stunning and ideal to take a photo or two if you´re not too much in a hurry.
Following the climb up to Háabrún you come to a relatively flat section that stretches for over a kilometer. It takes you under a ski lift and eventually to the crossroads where the 12,5 km skiers turn right but the 25 and 50 km skiers keep on going straight. Soon after you pass the crossroads you will be greeted by an uphill that takes you under another ski lift. Now you have skied some 4 quite strenuous kilometers with a total elevation of 155 m. After another kilometer you come to the first feeding station, Búrfell 1. Following the feeding station you will be treated to an easy section called Hnífar, before doing another 2 km long climb up to the next feeding station, Heiðin 1. This is the only point of the course that is accessible by car, although the road is only open for our staff and the rescue team.
From the feeding station you continue for some 4,5 km until you reach Fellsháls, the highest point of the course. If you are not too serious about the competition, this is a nice point to relax and enjoy the fabulous view over the surrounding area. From up here you have a fairly easy descend down to the next feeding station, Nónvatn 1. The gentle terrain continues all the way around the valley Engidalur to the rock “Steinn”. This was the starting point for Fossavatnsgangan in the early days, when the main distance was 20 km. You, on the other hand, have already finished some 26 km by now and need to be prepared for some demanding kilometers that are waiting for you. First you work your way back to the feeding station Nónvatn, and then up the long and strenuous hill Fellsháls. For the second time, you are at the highest point of the course. From there you can glide and double pole to the feeding station Heiðin 2.
The next 5,5 km or so are relatively easy, but when you come to the final feeding station, Búrfell 2, you better consume all the energy you possibly can. You are just about to start the most dreaded part of the course, the climb between the mountains Búrfell and Miðfell which reaches its climax when you work your way up the infamous hill Miðfellsháls. But no matter how difficult it may be to conquer this hill, once you reach the top you can look forward to 7 km of downhill and easy double poling all the way to the finish area. You should be cautious, though, as the downhill sections can be very fast and challenging, especially for those who are not used to cross country skiing.