Day trip | Russia

Icy marathon on Lake Baikal

Every year at the beginning of March, extreme sports enthusiasts gather on Lake Baikal to take part in the “Winteriade”. Here, the athletes can also try their hand at disciplines such as ice fishing or ice golf
Various athletes stand on the ice at a table with drinks and snacks.

On Lake Baikal in Siberia: The “Winteriade” takes place here at the beginning of March. Every five kilometers, an improvised food station provides tea and snacks


Lake Baikal in Siberia is a popular destination for tourists, especially in summer. However, even in the icy Siberian winter, when the average temperature drops to an extreme of minus 13 degrees Celsius, there are more people than you might expect.

That’s probably because a very special event takes place here at the beginning of March: The “Winteriade”, a sporting event that includes ice fishing and ice golf as well as an ice marathon, has been organised on the frozen Lake Baikal for years. This leads from the small settlement of Tankhoi on the southern shore directly across the ice to the village of Listvyanka in the north.

“In addition to balaclavas and thermal underwear, extreme athletes also wear face tapes to protect their skin from frostbite”

However, this race across the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world is only suitable for extreme athletes. There are good reasons why the marathon organisers recommend not only balaclavas and thermal underwear but also face tapes are used to protect the skin from frostbite.

However, there is one ray of hope for the runners: every five kilometres, a small station with tea and snacks awaits them on their tour of hell, which is set up on the lake with the help of hovercrafts. However, if you want to break the marathon record, you can hardly linger here. The best time stands at an impressive two hours, 53 minutes and 26 seconds.

Around 140 athletes from up to fifty countries typically take part in the ice marathon. However, this has changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the associated entry restrictions. So far, the organisers have only received five registrations from abroad for the next competition, meaning that the marathon won’t take place in 2024.