Aral Sea Marathon in Uzbekistan, 2024: Race Info and More

Aral Sea Marathon Race

The Aral Sea in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, stands as one of the world’s greatest man-made disasters. Once the world’s fourth-largest lake, sustaining a thriving fishing economy and supporting local communities, it has now transformed into the world’s newest desert, the Aralkum.

In a bid to draw global attention to the disaster, the local running group Prorun, led by Uzbek runner Andrey Kulikov, has organized one of the world’s most extreme and isolated marathons—the Aral Sea Marathon.

I first visited Karakalpakstan during Aral Sea Tourism Week and met the Prorun team, who were organizing a 2km fun run in Muynak, the former fishing town that lost its main economy—the fishing industry—due to the disaster. Inspired by their efforts, I decided to dust off my running shoes, get back into training, and assist them in promoting their race.

In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know about this extreme race.

Muynak's 'Ship Graveyard'
Muynak’s iconic ship graveyard is a stark reminder of the environmental and economic tragedy

The Aral Sea Marathon in 2024

In 2024, the Aral Sea Marathon will be open to the public for the first time. Organizer Kulikov ran the full marathon himself in 2023 on ‘World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought’ to spotlight the region’s environmental challenges. The event was broadcast live on the YouTube channel of the Ministry of Ecology, Environmental Protection, and Climate Change.

This year, the race will take place on the weekend of June 15-16th, open to 100 runners. It is hoped that up to 1,000 runners will participate in 2025.

Information in English is limited, so I’ll do my best to keep this page updated.

Aral Sea Marathon Info

Race Info

  • Date: June 15-16, 2024
  • Race Time: 5:30 am (GMT+5)
  • Location: West Aral Sea, Karakalpakstan
  • Start Coordinates: 44°50’15″N, 58°12’30″E
  • Finish Coordinates: 44°30’15″N, 58°13’45″E
  • Length: 42.195 km (standard marathon length)
  • Cost: 6,500,000 sum (roughly $500 – see below)

Included in the Cost:

The price of entry not only includes race participation but also covers the cost of an all-inclusive trip, including travel to and from Tashkent, accommodation, and food.

Flights: Return flights between Tashkent and Nukus. Departure from Tashkent on Saturday morning, arrival back to Tashkent late on Sunday evening.

SUV transport: The 200km journey between Nukus and Muynak will be in comfortable transport with licensed drivers, featuring a photo shoot and excursion to the Canyons of the Aral Sea, Yurt camp, and the start location.

Food: Food will be provided all weekend.

Accommodation: Stay in a yurt camp, experiencing authentic accommodation and nights under the stars. Enjoy breakfast against the backdrop of the Aral Sea.

Services: Photo and video shooting, medical personnel, helicopter for emergencies.

Participant Requirements:

The Aral Sea marathon is no ordinary race and wannabe candidates will have to pass a screening process in order to compete.

  • Experience of completing marathon distances, Ironman 70.3, or trail running distances of at least 20 km.
  • Submission of an ECG to the organizers 2 days before departure.
  • Submission of training diary. Eg. screenshots from running apps.
  • In case of failure to complete the above-mentioned requirements: Submit an official letter to the ProRun organization, pass a CRT (Cardio Respiratory Exercise Test) and sports training, and also provide a guarantee from a certified Athletics coach.

Race Description

Aral Sea Canyon
Aral Sea Canyon

From the race organizers:

The marathon terrain primarily consists of sand interspersed with rubble and stones, creating a challenging route for participants.

Within the first 5 kilometers, runners will receive initial feedback on the suitability of their footwear. By the 10-kilometer mark, they may start experiencing muscle cramps, testing the strength of their feet. Knee pain often sets in around the 15-kilometer point.

At the halfway mark of 21 kilometers, there may be a sense of relief in realizing half the distance has been covered. However, the combination of uneven terrain—sometimes soft sand mixed with stones—and the fatigue it induces makes running difficult. Many participants find themselves merely shuffling forward, one leg after the other.

Without well-developed foot and knee muscles, the pain can be intense. Furthermore, the physical exertion and salty air contribute to unquenchable thirst and a dry mouth throughout the race.

Adding to the challenge, runners contend with a relentless, deafening wind and intense sun rays. Proper sports equipment, including sunglasses and ear protection like earplugs or AirPods, is essential for enduring these conditions.”

How to Sign Up

Runners can sign up via the official website (Russian language only) or find out more information via their social media channels:

As mentioned, online information in English is limited. However, Andrey and the ProRun team speak English, and you can message them directly through their social media accounts.

For further help feel free to also contact me via my contact page.

Interested in this event? Learn more about travel in Uzbekistan.

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