(*The 2020 Antarctica ice marathon has a staggering EUR 18,900 entry fee.)
Located on the tip of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, near the border of Mongolia, the Kanas lake was formed around 200,000 years ago during the Quaternary period as a result of glacier movement.
The crescent moon shaped lake has an estimated water storage capacity of 53.8 billion cubic meters, coupled with an average depth of around 120 meters, with the deepest point measured at 188 meters. The Kanas lake is located inside the famous Kanas Geological Park. The park occupies an area of 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq miles) of mountain, forest, river, lake and grassland, even bigger than the Yellowstone National Park in the US.
Kanas Lake is part of the Altay province, which borders with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia, making it a mixture of diverse culture and people. Located in 45 degrees north latitude, Altay is the birth place of skiing.
It's at the same latitude as some of the world's renowned skiing heavens: the Alps and the Rocky mountains. It's most famous for its powder snow. The snow season here lasts up to 5 months starting from early Nov. The average snowfall reaches 80 cm thick. In winter, the frozen Kanas lake is covered with snow. The temperature can reach -40 °C during the coldest days.
Exposing athletes to ice, snow, winds, sun and frost, The Kanas Lake Ice Marathon is an intimate encounter between the beautiful, but hash winter Xinjiang landscape and the traditional challenge of a long-distance race.
This is not a race for everyone. It is both psychologically and physically demanding. The landscape throughout the 42km comprises of snow-covered forest on both sides. It gives runners little sense of perspective, offering them not much to focus on but how far they are from their goal. It is a long, cold, and possibly lonely 42 km trail across the white landscape. It's a challenge to the soul.
After you finish what might be the most difficult winter endurance race in China, you have the option to see and experience the real Altay winter. This year, partnered with the biggest travel agency in the Altay region, we offer a small group (12-15 ppl) 3-day tour to see the nearby Hemu village and experience the local music, cuisine and culture.
Villages of Tuwa people, a Mongolian tribe living at Kanas Lake
Tuwa people, a Mongolian tribe, has been living in Kanas for centuries. The valiant ethnic minority is good at horse riding, skiing, and hunting. They believe in Shamanism and Lamaism and keep the primitive worship of fire and other natural forces as their ancestors did.
It's said that the Tuwas were originated from the old or wounded soldiers abandoned by Genghis Khan when he led his people to expedite westward. In addition, the tour also provide a rare opportunity to see the Kanas mountain by snow mobile and trekking.
After the tour, you'll have the option to further extend your stay and get a taste of that famous powder snow skiing. The same powder snow as Hokkaido, but the best hotel in town starts at RMB 368/room/night, including two skiing lift day passes.
You are reading this right, the hotel price is even cheaper than the lift tickets in Congli or really just any resort in Dongbei. This is because the government wants to promote winter skiing and provides heavy subsidies at the moment. It might be a different story next year.
Room in Jindu Hotel (Skiing hotel)
♦ I'm not a Chinese citizen, how much trouble is it to visit Xinjiang?
You might have heard about the strict checkpoints, hotel registration and the length they go through to verify foreign passport holders visiting Xinjiang. But the truth is with the ice marathon, all that verification work will be done beforehand. So you can totally enjoy the race and visit Xinjiang Mafan(hassle) free.
♦It sounds great. Can I bring my friends/family along? They can't run a marathon
Yes. While you are gone running that 42 km, we've got igloo building for the family. Please refer to the package for “Accompanied friends & family”.
♦ Do I need to speak a decent amount of Chinese to participate?
Not really, we'll have the race orientation in English. The tour guide speaks a decent amount of English to introduce the local culture and history.
Local cuisine reflects the cooking styles of many ethnic groups of the region, and refers particularly to Uyghur cuisine. Signature ingredients include roasted mutton, kebabs, roasted fish, nan and rice. Milk, yogurt and local sour cheese are also very common. It's not vegan friendly.
♦ About the Organizer XTRAIL
XTRAIL was founded in Beijing in 2014. We currently have two segments: adventure sports race and outdoor glamping. Dedicated to creating a community for the outdoor sports enthusiasts in China, XTRAIL organizes events under international brands such as Adventure Racing World Series（ARWS）, and La Grande Course (LGC). Our domestic races include trail run race (Ultra-trail Kanas), ski-mountaineering race (Wolf Cup Altay), multi-sports adventure race (Altay Expedition). Since 2015, XTRAIL has successfully organized more than a dozen of 100KM-and-above level endurance races all over China. Our flagship race - Altay Expedition, is the first expedition adventure race ever in Asia.
♦ About Tour Organizer: Kanas Tourism Co.,Ltd
Established in 2001, Kanas Tourism has served visitors to the Kanas region for years. It's by far the largest tour operator in the region and owns operating rights for several key tourism activities in the Kanas national Park.
The start is at the Kanas lake dock. There will be 10 check points supplying refreshment throughout the race. Total length: 42.195 km.
The start is also at the Kanas lake dock. There will be 6 check points supplying refreshment throughout the race. Total length: 21 km.
The start is also at the Kanas lake dock. There will be 2 check points supplying refreshment throughout the race. Total length: 10 km.
5-day Run and Explore Package RMB 4550 + 50% off race registration fee
If I'm flying 8 hours over to experience the ice marathon, I might as well stay for 2 more days to experience the local culture and cuisine. Plus, this gives you a 50% discount on regular race registration fee (Not early bird). Who doesn't like a discount?
Date: Feb 14 to Feb 18. Please refer to the schedule for activities for each day.
5-day Accompanied Friends & Family Package: RMB 4550
It's designed for friends and family who don't run but want to cheer you up while experience the exotic Altay winter.
Date: Feb 14 to Feb 18. Please refer to the schedule for activities for each day.
7-day Run, Explore and Ski Package RMB 5099 + 50% off regular race registration fee
Want to run, travel and ski at the same time? No problem! We've got powder snow skiing at possibly the lowest price. Accompanied F&F can also join the 7 day package. Just pay RMB 5099.
Date: Feb 14 to Feb 20. Please refer to the schedule for activities for each day.
How to register
Please refer to the link below in our website to fill out the registration form.
For all foreign passport holders, after you submit all your info and pay for the race, we'll check the running experience you provided.
You'll receive a confirmation email from us notifying whether you are eligible to join the race/ accompanied friends & family package. We'll send out the emails in two batches: Dec 20 and Jan 15th.
If you register before Dec 10th, you'll get the confirmation email on Dec 20th.
If you register after Dec 10th, you'll receive the confirmation email on Jan 15th.
We'll refund the full price if you do not meet the registration requirements. Please refer to the "Admittance" section in this article for the requirements to join the race.
We'll arrange airport transfer and other logistics details after you receive the registration confirmation email.
The race registration fee includes：
2 nights stay at the Hongfu hotel shared twin room with another runner of the same sex/ accompanied friends/family.
Transfer from and to the Kanas airport (Altay airport is possible but with an additional fee, Please refer to the “Airport Transfer” section)
Insurance for Feb 15th
All race supplies at checkpoints
Kanas lake entrance fee
Food and alcohol drinks at the Award dinner Gala
5 day package includes:
4 nights accommodation as indicated in the schedule.
All meals except the check in day on Feb 14th
All transportation and airport pickup/drop off at KJI.
All activities except in the snow park, where you choose the snow activity you desire.
5 day travel insurance
7 day package includes：
Whatever the 5 day package included +
Bus transfer to Altay city ( 6 hours). Please book returned tickets at ATT airport.
2 nights hotel accommodation in Altay
1 night skiing lift pass + 1 day skiing lift pass.
All hotel stay is based on 2 persons sharing a room. If you wish to have your private room, please contact XTRAIL after you receive the confirmation email. There will be an additional fee of RMB 300 per night.
Registration deadline： Jan 7th 2020, 18:00
Early bird price deadline：Dec 1st 2019 18:00
Race bag collection：Feb 14th 2020 13:00-22:00
Please do not book your tickets before you receive the email from us notifying you are eligible to join the race.
There are two airports nearby. The closer one is the Kanas airport(KJI), from which it takes 2 hours to get to the race hotel.
There are two flights arriving at Kanas airport on the 14th.
The other airport is located 7 hours drive from the race hotel and is called “Altay (AAT)”. Please make sure you book a flight that lands before 15:40 on the 14th at AAT to ensure timely transfer to the race hotel. The registration fee does not cover transfer from AAT. We'll charge an additional RMB 150 for such transfer (one way). Return transfer is scheduled at 9am on the 16th.
ATTENTION: Don't be surprised by the RMB 7000+ airfare when you've input the destinations on ctrip. The fare price during the winter is subsidized. At the time that this article is written, the government has not announced the subsidy for 2020 yet, which usually happens in Mid-Dec. That's why round-trip tickets in Dec cost RMB 2000+ while any date past Dec 31 costs 7000. According to our experience, the winter air ticket price for Feb is between RMB 2000 to 3000 round trip from Beijing/Shanghai. You will transfer at Wulumuqi or Xian.
*Please keep your cellphone close to the body during the race. Otherwise, the low temperature might result in low battery.
Working Hours：Mon-Fri 10:00-18:00
Address：Room 705, No. 35 Huayuan North Road,Haidian District, China.