WOW CYCLOTHON HISTORY
WOW Cyclothon 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.
MORE THAN JUST A BIKE RACE
From this great idea the WOW Cyclothon became a reality and has been gaining momentum ever since. The two friends also decided that the race should be a benefit so every year the teams raise pledges that are then donated to that year’s cause. Already tens of millions have been awarded to worthy causes. You can find out about WOW Cyclothons latest cause here.
The first year WOW Cyclothon was ever held 13 teams – that’s 52 cyclists and 26 drivers – started and finished the race. The race had only one category, the A-category, were each team consists of 4 cyclists and two drivers.
This year the teams raised pledges for Save the Children Iceland for a project aimed at the health and physical well-being of children. Save the Children Iceland and WOW air also held a bike-raising asking people to donate old bikes so they could be fixed and given to children.
Over 500 bikes were brought in and 250 children got a bike as not all the bikes could be repaired. Those were used for spare parts and fully utilized.
WOW Cyclothon teams raised 3.4 million ISK in pledges that all went directly to this project.
For the second year of WOW Cyclothon a B-category was added for teams with 10 cyclists who take turns cycling and driving the team vehicle.
The number of registered teams more than doubled as 18 A-teams and 7 B-teams signed up for the challenge. Also registered was the first all-female A-team to ever compete and their amazing time record has proven difficult to beat ever since.
In 2013 WOW Cyclothon again raised pledges and bikes for Save the Children Iceland donating over 4 million ISK and 670 bikes to the cause.
This was a historic year for WOW Cyclothon as we introduced the Solo-category for the first time. This was also the first time Hjólakraftur (e. Cycling Power) took part in the race. They registered with the goal of finishing last but winning the pledge competition, which they did with flying colors. The epic final sprint of A-teams Örninn and Workforce A will also go down in WOW Cyclothon history as one of the most exciting final sprints ever as only a bike-length separated those teams at the finish line and they both got the same finishing time, 39 hours and 12 minutes.
The teams raised pledges for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the National University Hospital of Iceland and raised over 15 million ISK which more than covered the cost for new and highly specialized operating equipment the department sorely needed.
2014 broke all records regarding number of participants as 500 cyclists and assistants registered for the race, including 5 solo cyclists. Only three solo cyclists finished the race, Sigurður and Þórður being the first in WOW Cyclothon history to finish in little over 74 hours. Third place went to Eirikur Ingi who finished two hours later. Eiríkur has gone on to compete in the solo-category two more times, in 2015 and 2016, coming in second and first respectively.
Another record breaking year as the number of participants doubled to little over 1,000 cyclists and assistants. Mixed B-teams were now able to compete amongst themselves and a special Hjólakraftur category was established for the youngest participants. The Hjólakraftur teams this year were four, and they got a 24-hour head start on the A and B-categories and Solo cyclists.
The B-category competition was fierce this year as it included some of the best cyclists in Iceland. It was Team Örninn who happily took first place as they’d lost it to Workforce A the previous year. Winner of the A-category was Eldfljotir með Ergo who beat the 2015 record finishing the race in 38 hours and 43 minutes.
A record breaking number of female cyclists took part this year. The HFR Renault team finished first in the B-category in 42 hours and 45 minutes and their A-category colleagues from HFR Fjólur won their category finishing the route in 46 hours and 7 minutes. All in all 23 mixed B-teams registered for the race and Team WorldClass to first place finishing the race in 40 hours and 11 minutes.
This year the teams raised pledges for a physical activity center at the University Hospital’s Psychiatric Department at Kleppur. Over 21 million ISK was raised for this worthy cause.
Over 1,000 participants in over 100 teams started the 2016 race. After entering the Solo-category for the third year in a row Eiríkur Ingi finally finished first after a hard completion from Italian ultra-cyclist Omar Di Felice. Eiríkur finished in 63 hours and 52 minutes.
Seven teams competed in the A-category, amongst them was a superteam called Park Inn by Radisson with three strong Icelandic cyclists and the legendary Tour de France hero George Hincapie on board. Hincapie, who’d come to Iceland to support the Hjólakraftur teams during their first leg through Hvalfjörður Fjord decided that he wanted to try this race out for himself and so, the WOW Cyclothon race administration helped him put a team together. It, of course, went on to win the A-category, finishing the race in 39 hours and 39 minutes. In the B-category 92 teams raced to the finish lines. Some for fun, some with a time goal and others to give it all they’ve got. Team Olís HFR managed to get well ahead early in the race and finished in just under 37 hours.
Hjólakraftur came in strong this year and entered 15 teams into the race. On average each team consisted of 5-6 teenagers and four grown up leaders. The teams finished together in great spirits after 64 hours and 25 minutes on the road.
Participants also raised pledges for the Hjólakraftur project this year raising just under 12 million ISK and securing the continued and much needed effort of introducing cycling to children and teenagers who might not fit into regular group sports.
More participants than ever before signed up for WOW Cyclothon in 2017. Over 1,300 cyclists and assistants were registered for 144 teams. For the first time ever in WOW Cyclothon history the teams had to be stopped if they were too much behind. This was not due to new rules but because of dangerous weather and high winds on the south-east corner of the island. Any teams that couldn’t get past the danger zone before the storm hit had to quit the race but got to keep their place as finishers due to the unusual circumstances.
Four Solo-cyclists were registered for the race and it was Canadian Peter Coljin who won the race after 67 hours on the road. Due to high winds on the south-west corner at the start both the Solo-category and Hjólakraftur teams started the race from Borgarfjordur instead of Reykjavik.
In the A-category Team Cannondale GÁP elite won the race by almost 2 hours, finishing in 44 hours and 34 minutes. In the B-category the race was a little bit more exciting as teams CCP and Zwift, who’d been working together since the start of the race, started racing each other when 30 km were left of the race. By good racing strategy and a lot of effort team CCP managed to get ahead of Zwift, beating them to the finish line by one minute and finishing the race in 36 hours and 13 minutes.
The charity cause this year were the Icelandic Search and Rescue teams (ICE-SAR), an independent association that has an extensive role in rescue work in Iceland and for which thousands of volunteers dedicate themselves in various capacity. The cyclists and teams raised over 20 million ISK for this cause and were glad they did as the search and rescue teams greeted them with grilled hamburgers in Akureyri and later helped the race administration clock teams out before the storm hit.
WOW Cyclothon is thankful for having great sponsors. Without them we would not be able to make this race a reality. Check out our sponsors at the bottom of the page.
GOAL OF THE RACE
Without participants there would be no WOW Cyclothon. We want to get as many people as possible to step out of their comfort zone and experience the adventure of a lifetime.
WOW Cyclothon is about team work and collaboration, it’s all in one a promotion for a healthy lifestyle and a chance to see the magnificent nature of Iceland in a unique way.
Participants, owners and organizers of WOW Cyclothon aim high and everyone is a winner.