WOW Cyclothon, a relay bike race where team members take turns cycling on Iceland’s Ring Road in less than 72 hours, is the brainchild of Magnus Ragnarsson VP of Media and Markets at Iceland Telecom and WOW air’s CEO Skuli Mogensen, both of whom have somewhat of a competitive streak. In 2011, while talking and comparing notes on their previous challenges mostly triathlons, and brainstorming what challenges to take on next they realized that no such challenge existed in Iceland. They concluded that if they wanted to take on a big challenge in Iceland they would have to create one themselves. Then the idea of cycling around the country came up.
From this great idea the WOW Cyclothon became a reality and has been gaining momentum ever since. In 2012, 20 teams, each with four cyclists and two drivers, competed in tandem with raising money for a good cause. In 2013 ca. 500 contestants took on the challenge and raised a record amount for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the National University Hospital of Iceland. In 2015 participation more than doubled as over 1000 cyclists and drivers were on the road during the race, enjoying the great outdoors, each other’s company and the good feeling from their charitable and exhilerating endeavor.
The more the merrier
Each year has seen some significant change in the structure of the competition; from just the A category (4 cyclists, 2 drivers) in 2012 to A and B categories (10 cyclists who take turns driving) in 2013 and a solo category (1 cyclist, 2 drivers/assistants) in 2014. This year (2015) a category for the Hjólakraftur project was added.
Hjólakraftur (Cycling Power) is a project led by Þorvaldur (Valdi) Daníelsson, who wanted to introduce cycling as a sport for children and teenagers who, for various reasons had been losing the battle to all sorts of lifestyle diseases and had not found their place in the more common team sports. Hjólakraftur had one team in 2014 and won the hearts of everyone following the race. In 2015 Valdi brought five Hjólakraftur teams to the race that participated in their own category.