Arctic Adventure on Land and at Sea

Vacationing in the rugged chill of Arctic Canada might not seem like a peaceful vacation, but as Margie Goldsmith points out in her article, “Running a Marathon in the Canadian Arctic, even far up north where you only picture snow and ice, you can find adventure. She took a cruise ship, Cruise North to tour the beautiful arctic. I would love to take this trip despite the chill, for the experience of a life time, learning about history not taught in classes, seeing whales, icebergs, and more.

I’d signed on partly because the cruise promised icebergs, beluga whales, musk ox, walrus and polar bears, and partly because Cruise North is an Inuit-owned tour operator with Inuit staff onboard, and we’d be stopping at Inuit villages along the way; but mainly because midway through the voyage, there’d be a 26.2-mile marathon to be held on top of a 3,000-foot-high fjord.

Churchill is the polar bear capital of the world, our bus driver/guide said, but that’s in the fall when polar bears migrate out to the ice; this was July. That was one surprise. Another was that the temperature here was 90 degrees Fahrenheit, not the 50-degree average for July.

“They are thought to be ancestors of Native American Indians. The early ancestors of the Inuit are believed to have crossed the Bering Straight 10,000 years ago, migrating from the area currently known as Mongolia. It seems unfathomable to think all the world’s people simply went about roaming the earth ceaselessly. Yet, the logistics of such a migration offer a realistic perspective. The circumference of the earth is approximately 40,000 kilometers (about 25,000 miles).”

There were no spectators, but Inuit volunteers from Kangiqsujuaq, a village three hours away, had come out early to build Inutshuks out of rocks at each kilometer marker. They manned the water spots every four miles, and cheered us on. The average time was four hours and change. I was out much longer because I hurt my foot on a rock. That left me little choice but to walk the entire second half of the race.