Ultra Marathon in Icelandic Highland This Summer

Fjallabak - syðra highland

The Environment Agency of Iceland has granted Arctic Yeti Ltd. permission to hold a so-called “Ultra Marathon” in Iceland’s highland this summer. It’s the first time such a run has been held in Iceland: participants will have six days to traverse 280 kilometres (174 miles) between June 26 and July 3. Arctic Yeti CEO Javi Gálves told mbl.is the company hopes to make the marathon an annual event.

It is estimated that there will be about 50 participants in the marathon, which will partly take place around Fjallabak and Þjórsárdalur, protected areas in Iceland’s highland. The running route contains a mixture of main roads in the area, dirt roads, and highland hiking trails.

Marathon participants will stay at campsites within Þjórsárdalur valley for the duration of the run. The campsites will be set up by Arctic Yeti, who will provide tents and other necessities to runners. Participants will be required to carry organic waste bags for their personal use, which will be disposed of in designated areas.

Arctic Yeti is a Spanish travel agency that specialises in trips to the Nordic countries. They have previously held an Ultra Marathon in Costa Rica.

COVID-19 in Iceland: Restrictions Relaxed from December 10

Sundlaugin Laugardal

Social restrictions due to COVID-19 will be moderately relaxed in Iceland this Thursday, December 10. The country’s swimming pools will reopen at 50% capacity, while shops, schools, performing arts venues, and restaurants will also see moderately relaxed restrictions. The national gathering limit will remain at 10 people, though with several exceptions. The new regulations will remain in effect until January 12.

While Iceland saw a rise in new COVID-19 case numbers at the end of November, new domestic case numbers and overall active cases have been dropping in recent days. The country appears to have contained the current wave of cases.

Ten-Person Limit Still in Effect

Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir just announced the updated COVID-19 restrictions that take effect this Thursday, December 10, following a government meeting that took place this morning. Current restrictions mandate a 10-person gathering limit across the country and bars, gyms, swimming pools are closed.

While the 10-person limit will remain in effect from December 10, several exceptions to the rule have been granted from that date. All shops will be permitted to take in 5 customers per 10 square metres up to a maximum of 100 customers. This regulation applies to non-essential shops as well.

Restaurants may take in up to 15 guests at a time (up from 10 previously) and may remain open until 10.00pm, one hour later than current regulations allow. They may, however, not admit any new guests after 9.00pm.

Performing Arts, Sports Permitted

Swimming pools may reopen on Thursday, though only at 50% capacity. Athletic activities for adults in the top league of the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland (ÍSÍ) will be permitted to restart. This applies to both contactless and contact sports.

Performing arts, currently banned, will be permitted again from Thursday. Groups of up to 30 performers are permitted to rehearse and perform together, and can entertain up to 50 seated, mask-wearing guests, though neither intermissions nor alcohol sales are permitted at performances. Funerals may have up to 50 guests.

Children born in 2005 or later will no longer be required to wear masks in schools, shops, or other locations. Preschools will no longer be required to keep classes separate.

Consensus Within Government

Svandís stated that the regulations are slightly different from Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason’s recommendations, though the changes were made in consultation with him. The Health Minister stated that there was consensus on the updated regulations within the government.

Asked whether the regulations would be sufficient to avoid a new wave after the holidays, Svandís stated: “If everyone follows the rules then they will be sufficient.” The regulations will be in effect until January 12.

Email Scammers Targeting Athletics Associations

A number of Icelandic athletics associations have fallen prey to email scams and have lost a considerable amount of money as a result, RÚV reports. Police warn these associations to be on their guard; cybercriminals waged a similar campaign against athletics associations a few years ago and are reusing the same techniques now.

The most common type of scam is that the managing director, an employee, or a volunteer of an athletics association will receive an email that appears to come from their organization’s bookkeeper or director. The email will ask them to make a bank transfer to a foreign bank account and say that this needs to be done within a very short window of time.

The scammers seem to have done considerable homework on their marks. According to Auður Inga Þórsteinsdóttir, director of the National Association of Youth Organizations (UMFÍ), athletics associations with higher revenue are asked to transfer more money than less monied organizations—anywhere from ISK 400,000 [$2,901; € 2,452] to ISK 1 million [$7,253; €6,130]. UMFÍ urges any organizations that are targeted by such scams to report them to the police.

Internet fraud and email scams have cost Icelanders a total of ISK 1.5 billion [$10.88 million; €9.19 million] over the last three years.

Icelander Wins Gold in Youth Olympics

Icelandic runner Guðbjörg Jóna Bjarnadóttir

Icelander Guðbjörg Jóna Bjarnadóttir won gold in the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games on Tuesday, Vísir reports. Guðbjörg won Iceland’s first medal in the competition for the Women’s 200 metre run. Guðbjörg’s total time was 47.02 seconds, 0.67 seconds less than second place winner Dalia Kaddari of Italy.

The 16-year-old has had a standout year, breaking Iceland’s previous record for the 200-metre run three times since June. Guðbjörg also took home gold in the 100 metre run and bronze in the 200 metre run at the European Athletics U18 Championships in Hungary this July.

“She is both big and strong and has all the means to go far in the adult category later,” stated athletics specialist Sigurbjörn Árni Arngrímsson. “I think it’s realistic to aim for the Olympic games in Tokyo in 2020.”