From the Fossavatnsgangan database: an article in the 2024 local ski magazine

In the ski magazine 2024 (which you can read on together with all older ski magazines) is an article with various information about the Fossavatnsgangan results database.

The article is reprinted here for fun. It is machine translated from Icelandic but the most glaring errors have been corrected by hand.

From the Fossavatnsgangan database

Fossavatnsgangan was first run in 1935 and is celebrating its 90th anniversary next year. The route has always been in one way or another from Fossavatn above Engidal and over to Seljalandsdal, although the passage of time and various factors have had an effect on it that will not be discussed here.

For quite some time now, I have been working on compiling results from previous years' tunnels into one comprehensive database. Both results have been unpublished, or published in inaccessible excel documents that are difficult to understand properly. With a complete database, you can easily see all the results of each person, and compile various statistical information about the number and more. In order for this to happen, it is necessary to coordinate presentation, ensure that time measurements are machine-readable, that participants' names are recorded the same throughout time (which is especially hard work for participants with middle names), that common names are distinguished and much more.

Although I put the foundation together and it was hard work, it builds on the work of many others. The first is to mention the volunteers who have taken care of timing and registration of information every year. Guðmundur Sveinsson was devoted to it in the first few years. Guðmundur Ágústsson made great strides in these matters in the eighties and nineties. His son Hlynur helped, Guðmundur Rafn Kristjánsson (Muggur) also, Einar Ágúst Yngvason and Heimir Hansson. Elías Oddsson technicalized the time trial and was the prime mover there for years until Birgir Þór Halldórsson took over and he has been doing it for the last few years. Finishing and coordinating, typing and programming has been in my hands.

Sources can sometimes be found on special papers that have been found, sometimes results have been published in newspapers and on various other platforms.

Along with recording the results, I have compiled information about walks where it is available, both about periods, dates, location and length of routes and so on. The information is quite fragmentary though.

Despite this, results have been lost for two years and there seems little chance that this will be improved. However, Kitti Muggs is known to have conquered those tunnels—this was in his golden age—and has been awarded a total time of 100 minutes for those tunnels.

The date of the Fossavatnsgangan

The first thing to look at is the time of year. Before, there was little rule on the dates and it was decided in early March all the way back to the end of May. A rule arrived at dates around 1980 and was then based on the end of the month April-May. It has since been waived for various reasons and the date is now determined based on the following rule: Fossavatnsgangan is held on the last Saturday of winter except when it falls on the Easter weekend, in which case the procession is the Saturday before Palm Sunday.

Number of recorded hours

Next is to look at the number of participants. The figure shows how the number first takes off around the 1970s, rises slowly from the turn of the century, but then explodes in 2014 and beyond. In the epidemic year of 2020, the procession fell down and has not reached its former number since.

Most participation years

Although the Fossavatnsgangan is in itself a race to finish first, its aim has always been broader than that; to promote the practice of skiing, create goals for practitioners, bring people together and enjoy the outdoors on their own terms, to name a few. It is therefore appropriate to select first the individuals who have participated most often, regardless of the number of victories.

Here is a top 20 list of those who have participated most often and walked the most kilometers in the race. If a participant does two or more races in the same year, only the longest one is valid, and race are calculated with an regardless of distance.

NameDistanceNumber of racesFirst walkLast walk
Odd Pétursson931 km49 19552012
Gunnar Pétursson926 km46 19552012
Halldór Margeirsson1091 km46 19682021
Árni Aðalbjarnarson1018 km45 19702023
Sigurður Jonsson875 km44 19382007
Kristján Rafn Guðmundsson910 km42 19622014
Einar Ágúst Yngvason1233 km39 19782023
Elias Sveinsson846 km39 19672012
Oskar Kárason792 km38 19712019
Sigurður Gunnarsson753 km36 19672023
Stígur Stígsson704 km34 19582015
Arnór Stígsson621 km32 19582005
Konrad Eggertsson626 km30 19762023
Sigurður Sigurðsson679 km30 19552017
Gunnlaugur Jónasson (1930)524 km29 19702018
Thrush Jóhannesson642 km28 19742010
Guðjón H. Höskuldsson521 km27 19672012
Ragnar Bragason1080 km27 19932023
Pétur Pétursson546 km26 19362014
Einar Ólafsson750 km25 19782023

Top 20: Women

Here is a top 20 list of women who have participated most often and walked the most kilometers in the walk. If a participant walks two or more walks in the same year, only the longest one is valid.

NameDistanceNumber of racesFirst walkLast walk
Rannveig Halldórsdóttir927 km24 19972023
Auður Yngvadóttir530 km22 19802019
Jóna Lind Kristjánsdóttir554 km19 19982023
Rósa Þorsteinsdóttir345 km17 19962014
Silja Rán Guðmundsdóttir213 km17 19972015
Guðbjörg Rós Sigurðardóttir439 km16 19912018
Katrín Sif Kristbjörnsdóttir364 km16 19982023
Stella Hjaltadottir592 km16 19852019
Jóhanna Oddsdóttir295 km15 20022018
Kristin Hálfdánsdóttir270 km15 19952018
Arna Kristbjörnsdóttir221 km14 20022019
Emelía Þórðardóttir377 km14 20002015
Katrín Árnadóttir (1983)318 km14 19942019
Oddný Njálsdóttir146 km14 19932012
Sigríður Lára Gunnlaugsdóttir123 km13 19942018
Gerdur Steinthórsdóttir295 km12 20072021
Ingibjörg Elín Magnúsdóttir291 km12 19992023
Nanny Arna Guðmundsdóttir307 km12 20002023
Guðfinna Hreiðarsdóttir339 km11 20022018
Gudný Katrín Kristinsdóttir228 km11 20102023

Most wins

When we count the number of victories, it can be done in various ways. Both have been competed in age groups and different distances, especially in recent times. If we limit the calculations to the longest distance of each year (excluding Næturfossavatnin), and skip sorting by age, Kristján Rafn Guðmundsson comes out on top with twelve victories. Next is Einar Ólafsson with seven victories, but he has considerably more gold after winning the 20 km walk in the first years that the 50 km walk was held.

12Kristján Rafn Guðmundsson1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974
7Einar Ólafsson1982, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1997
5Stella Hjaltadottir1985, 1989, 1997, 1999, 2001
4Magnus Kristjánsson1935, 1936, 1937, 1938
4Odd Pétursson1955, 1956, 1957, 1961
4Thrush Jóhannesson1978, 1979, 1980, 1981
4Olaf Th. Árnason2000, 2002, 2003, 2004
3Gísli Einar Árnason1992, 1994, 1996
3Auður Yngvadóttir1980, 1986, 1987

Best average speed

As all participants in the Fossavatnsgang can tell long stories about, the conditions vary greatly from year to year. Weather and snow conditions affect both how the walk works, but also which track you can tread. This means that there can be a considerable difference between the actual distance and the installed distance. In the old days, distance estimation was also quite imprecise. The total time of the winner is therefore not a particularly good measure of how the race is done, and manages to take an average speed. I have estimated the distance back to 2012 based on the average Strava registrations of the participants, but before that time an actual distance of 50 km is assumed. By convention, average speed is recorded as the number of minutes per kilometer.

Men with the highest average speed

NameYearActual lengthTimeAverage speed
Ilya Chernousov201850 km02:13:59 2:41
Mathias Aas Rolid202346 km02:04:02 2:42
Jørgen Aukland200650 km*02:17:00 2:44
Gard Gjerdalen200650 km*02:17:02 2:44
Petter Soleng Skinstad202346 km02:06:42 2:45

* Actual length not known and calculated with 50 km.

Women with the highest average speed

NameYearActual lengthTimeAverage speed
Maria Gräfnings201850 km02:36:17 3:08
Nadja Kaelin202346 km02:26:15 3:11
Britta Johansson Norway201750 km02:41:03 3:13
Anouk Faivre Picon201850 km02:45:20 3:18
Selina Gasparin201850 km02:46:56 3:20

The first 50 km walk was in 2004. Comparison back in time, before the start of the 50 km walk, is difficult for several reasons. Actual distances are imprecise. The walks are shorter, so a higher average speed could be expected. But equipment and conditions were more difficult. Thus, the first machine-trodden track was in 1967, and progress in skiing, pushing technology and various other things has been great when you look at almost a century.

In 1965, when Kitti Muggs was in her prime, machine grooming had not yet begun. In that year, a report states that the walk began "at the bottom of Engidalur at the top, then the usual route over Galtarhryggur, the goal below Gullhóll, about 17 km". Kitti's time was 1:03:36, which gives 3:44 min/km.

The online database

The database is online and open to everyone. Naturally, the most fun is to look it up yourself. There is also an option to find your main opponents, which are the participants who have most often walked the same distance in the same year. It is still to be expected that there will be some pen slips or errors in the basis or the calculations, and any suggestions on this are welcome.

More news

Waxing service

Two parties offer fertilizer services for the Fossavatnsgängin. Fjordhub offers self-service, while Einar Birkir and Sveinbjörn offer full service. The use of fluorine fertilizers is prohibited according to international regulations. If you offer fertilizer services, you may...

read more
Hertz er styrktaraðili Fossavatnsgöngunnar

Hertz is a sponsor of the Fossavatnsgangan

Fossavatnsgangan is one of the most significant ski competitions in Iceland, which has a long and rich history. It is part of a growing group of cross-country skiing events that attract both amateur and professional athletes from all over the world. The competition, which takes place in a beautiful and sometimes brutal landscape...

read more