Ice runner: Siberian man runs marathon in -36 F weather

Tim Sprinkle
Boris Fyodorov at 5 am on January, 1, 2014 after running his first marathon in sub-zero conditions. Photo: Boris Fyodorov

How cold is too cold for a jog?

For most people, below-freezing temperatures generally put a stop to outdoor exercise, but Siberian native Boris Fyodorov is not most people.

Minutes after the calendar ticked over to 2014 this past New Year’s Eve, Fyodorov set off on a solo, out-and-back marathon run from his home in the Siberian village of Oymyakon, completing the 26.2-mile course his first marathon in just over five hours. During the run he experienced temperatures as low as -36 F (-38 C).

And that was just the way he wanted it.

"I [heard] about other marathons around the globe, naming themselves 'the coldest', like the most recent North Pole marathon with runners going at -28 C [-18 F]," Fyodorov told the Siberian Times. "I thought surely this cannot be right. Our Oymyakon is the coldest inhabited place in northern hemisphere. Why don't we arrange a marathon here?"

Oymyakon is widely considered to be one of the coldest places on the planet, and its record-low temperature of -90 F, recorded in 1933, is tied for the coldest recorded temperature for any inhabited place on Earth. The average January temperature in the area is -50 C (-58 F).

Not only did Fyodorov finish the marathon in high spirits, but he also wants it to be colder the next time he tries it.

"I really want to organize [the] next Oymyakon marathon in January when the air goes down to -50 C or -60 C," he said.

Fyodorov is not the first person to take on a cold-weather athletic challenge like this. In addition to the North Pole Marathon that he mentioned, the Antarctica Marathon is held every year in late February, taking runners on an out-and-back tour from Russia’s Bellingshausen Station. A second Antarctica event the Ice Marathon has been held at 80 degrees south since 2006.