Running Across Iceland

Running Iceland

At Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, we are lucky to work with elite athletes doing incredible adventures around the world. Distance runner Pavel Cenkl is one such athlete. This summer, during his run across Iceland, he gathered samples for the ASC Microplastics Project. Here’s Pavel’s story:

Cenkl heads downhill into the Norðlingafljót Valley. (Photo by Jill Fineis)

If you trace Iceland’s south coast along the Atlantic Ocean to its beautiful north coast on the Greenland Sea, you’ll make a 150-mile (240-kilometer) arc across the western Icelandic highlands.

I ran that arc over the course of three days this summer, as part of an independent project called Climate Run. I followed trails, gravel roads, faint paths, and sometimes no paths at all, running along rivers, over snowfields, beside waterfalls, glaciers, and thermal springs, and across the open tundra.

The road hugs the coastline near Hellisheiðarvirkjun. (Photo by Jill Fineis)

Over the three weeks both before and after the run, I collected ASC microplastics water samples from five locations in Iceland—from the southwest urban center of Reykjavik, to the isolated Westfjords in the northwest, to the harbors of the north coast. Although the coastline outside of the few cities and large towns in Iceland is remote and sparsely settled, it is not immune from the ebb and flow of global commerce and our imprint on the oceans and coastal regions.

From high on the Þverfellshorn, it’s difficult to see where the right path down is. (Photo by Pavel Cenkl)

My goal with Climate Run is to bring attention to the relationship of outdoor enthusiasts with the changing climate, encouraging our community to serve as role models and as stewards of the planet. I chose Iceland because the Arctic is among the places —> Read More