First ever ultra

Issyk Kul Six-Day
Challenge

The World’s Longest 6-Stage Foot Race

6 days

460 km

May 2025

*

on these days, accommodation and meals are included in the All-Inclusive Package

RACE DETAILS

start

Baktuu-Dolonotu,
Issyk Kul Region, Kyrgyzstan

Altitude

1,600-2,000 m above sea level

Field Limit

100 runners only

Stages

90 km, 74 km, 87 km, 85 km, 79 km, 45 km; total gain & loss of 6.3 km

Path

Asphalt, gravel & a few dirt trails

DESCRIPTION

Mainly a road race around the world’s second largest mountain lake. Six stages with a total length of almost two Spartathlons. Time limits: 12 hours for Stages 1 to 5 and 7 hours for Stage 6. There are aid stations at each stage for every ~20 km

Stage start
Aid stations

All the information above is preliminary, and more details will be provided in the Rules and the Road Book the participants will receive before the race

Play Video

Rise to a Whole New Level

Have you already reached the finish line at Marathon des Sables, Spartathlon, and maybe even Badwater, and are curious about what’s next? Here you are: 460 km in 6 days at altitudes up to 2,000 m – an unprecedented challenge for your physical and psychological capabilities, the world’s longest 6-stage foot race.

Stunning views of the Tien Shan nature and the track around the mysterious lake still unknown to the running world are included as a bonus. Since the number of participants in the 1st Issyk Kul Six-Day Challenge is strictly limited, hurry up to become one of only 100 pioneers and have your name inked in history!

Such a beautiful and friendly place

Kyrgyzstan is one of the most beautiful countries in Central Asia, and Issyk Kul Lake is the central gem in the crown of local attractions. The route of the ultramarathon is laid out so as not only to run around the entire lake but to also admire the Martian beauty of Fairy Tale Canyon and Seven Bulls Rocks.
Issyk Kul is the second largest mountain lake in the world
The southern coast of Issyk Kul is replete with literally Martian landscapes...
...and the whole lake is surrounded by a circle of snowy peaks of the Tien Shan
Race start and finish at the hippodrome built for the World Nomad Games
The participants of “Ultra Issyk Kul” will enjoy their rest not only in hotels but in real yurts, too
Issyk Kul Six-Day Challenge: the world’s longest 6-stage foot race!
Previous
Next

Do not have a Coach?

Are you excited but not sure that you can handle such a challenge on your own  without personalized coaching? Issyk Kul Six-Day Challenge is organized under the auspices of Running Expert, a coaching service with experience in successfully preparing for the most difficult ultras in the world, from Spartathlon to Badwater.

Run with us, be ultra!

THE TOUGHEST CHALLENGE

Issyk Kul has been a place of power for many great marathoners, including Olympic champion Valentina Egorova and Olympic bronze medalist Satymkul Dzhumanazarov, and we at Running Expert have been coming here for years to train for both marathons and ultras. “Working” altitude, mild weather, food familiar to the Europeans, and fantastic nature – all these make training here not only efficient but also inspiring.

And we have always wondered: is it possible to run around the whole lake? As a result, my athletes are finally ready for such a challenge. I hope your heart is also brave enough to start in The World’s Longest 6-stage Foot Race.

Alex Golowin

Ultra Issyk Kul Race Director
Running Expert Head Coach

CONDITIONS

Entry fee

Participant receives: 

Registration closes on March 31, 2024, or when the 100-participant limit is reached.

See more information at Race Info

$890

before October 1, 2023

$990

before January 1, 2024

$1,290

before April 1, 2024

All-Inclusive Package

Package includes: 

Ultra Issyk Kul is too tough a challenge to concern yourself with anything other than running. Take advantage of this “Fly & Forget” package and focus strictly on your performance!

Early booking price

$4,490

before October 1, 2023

40 packages only!

Contact us once you’ve paid the Entry Fee or wait for our Participant Care Manager to get in touch shortly.

The coaching service with unparalleled experience in training ultramarathon runners around the world. Our portfolio includes:

BURNING QUESTIONS

Nestled in the northeastern part of Kyrgyzstan and surrounded by the Tien Shan mountains, Issyk Kul is the largest saline mountain lake in the world. It is located at an elevation of about 1,600 m above sea level. The lake is more than 180 km long and about 60 km wide. The whole Issyk Kul Region is covered by the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Travel from the western end of Issyk Kul to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan that is connected to multiple destinations around the globe by international flights, is approximately 200 km.

Kyrgyzstan has nothing in common with, say, Afghanistan, except for the similar word ending. One of the safest countries in Central Asia, it is extremely dependent on tourism, so the locals are very friendly and accommodating towards foreigners.

Moreover, the ultramarathon around Issyk Kul is organized with the full support of the country’s authorities, and during the race itself, participants will be accompanied by local police officers.

Citizens of more than 60 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and all of Europe, do not require a visa to enter Kyrgyzstan. Everyone else can easily apply for an e-visa.

Here is where you can read more about entering Kyrgyzstan in English.

Here is a link to the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic on the introduction of a visa-free regime (the text however in Russian, the official language of the country).

And here is the website where you can apply for an e-visa. 

There are no strict qualification requirements for participation in the Issyk Kul Six-Day Challenge, but we strongly recommend that you enter if you have already completed at least one 6-day race like the Marathon des Sables or a road race over 200 km (such as Spartathlon, Badwater, etc.)

In any case, if you are in doubt whether you can handle it or not, drop us a message at welcome@runningexpert.com to request consultation from Running Expert coaches with their extensive experience in preparing for the most challenging ultras in the world.

Definitely! This is what we, at Running Expert, do: preparing seemingly ordinary people for what appears to be, at first glance, insane ultrachallenges around the world, as well as organizing our own challenges that are even more nuts. So we know for sure that the real limits of human capacity lie far beyond anyone’s imagination.

Want to talk about it? Contact us via email at welcome@runningexpert.com.

There are many direct flights to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, from Dubai and Istanbul – the world’s largest hubs – as well as other cities. You can get to Bishkek with just one (!) layover from New York and Los Angeles, Tokyo and Singapore, and from most of the major European cities.

It must be mentioned that, just 35 km away from the starting point, there is the Issyk Kul International Airport (Tamchy). However, only a few flights from the neighboring countries go there, so the main air gate of Kyrgyzstan is the Manas International Airport in Bishkek.

From Bishkek, you can get to the start of the race by comfortable GoBus coaches. The trip takes 4 hours, and the ticket costs less than $5. The only thing to keep in mind is that there is only one bus per day, and it only has 50 seats. Of course, it is always possible to take a taxi: the trip costs about $50. You can always turn to us for further advice regarding all the travel options: just drop us a message at welcome@runningexpert.com.

If you don’t want to trouble yourself with the transfer at all (as well as accommodation, meals, etc.), you are welcome to purchase the All-Inclusive Package on top of the Entry Fee. It includes airport pickup and transfer back after the race. The package covers 9 nights of accommodation, full board, and all the transfers (including between stages), as well as massage services and personal attention from the Running Expert team.

 

In the Route section of our website, you will find not only the general race layout, but also the detailed descriptions of each stage with comments on available accommodation. The problem is that Issyk Kul is huge, and overnight stay options for tourists are distributed around it very unevenly. Now, accommodation at the start and upon finishing the race won’t be an issue at all, including a good selection available on Booking.com. In between other stages, however, camping is perhaps the only viable option. Anyway, you have three alternatives to choose from.

1. Design your itinerary on your own or with the help of local travel agents, whose contacts we can provide.

2. Opt out for tents. (We can help you rent one.) Transfer of tents between stages, as well as sufficient supply of water for camping, are included in the Entry Fee.

3. Purchase the All-Inclusive Package, which covers 9 nights of accommodation, full board, and all the transfers, as well as massage services and personal attention from the Running Expert team.

 

There are no restrictions on support or the use of pacemakers. Moreover, it is the perfect opportunity for taking your friends and relatives with you; they can accompany you by car while enjoying the stunning nature of Issyk Kul. Having a personal car will also greatly facilitate your accommodation matters.

There are many car rental services in Bishkek, and you can always ask us for further help or advice by sending a request to welcome@runningexpert.com.

This is a road race that runs along the A363 highway around Issyk Kul, occasionally swerving to the side – in particular, to take you to the stunningly beautiful landmarks of the Seven Bulls Rocks and the Fairy Tale Canyon. For one segment, the route also goes along the country road bypassing the regional capital: the city of Karakol.

More than half of the track is paved, but you will also be running on gravel and dirt trails.

12 hours are given for running stages from 1 to 5, and the limit for the 6th – the final and the shortest stage – is 7 hours.

The general layout of the race and detailed descriptions of each stage are already up on the website; GPS tracks will be available for download the day before the start. Participants will also receive a Road Book with all the necessary information, including exact locations of the aid stations.

Most of the time, participants will run at altitudes of 1,600‒1,700 m above sea level, only occasionally rising to 2,000 m. Such heights are not considered extreme since the decrease in oxygen content in the air is not too significant. While it would affect marathon runners, ultramarathoners run much slower, so this won’t be a critical issue for them.

Still, altitude will certainly have some effect. In particular, there is increased dryness of air. In any case, each participant will receive recommendations from us on how to prepare for their stay in Issyk Kul, including drinking regimen, nutrition, and nutritional supplements. During the race itself, you will be under the supervision of our medical staff.

 

According to the averaged data for the past 10 years, at the end of May, the air temperature in Issyk Kul during the day is 8‒10 degrees Celsius; however, it may vary greatly year on year. One thing can be said for sure: as of now, the heat doesn’t exceed 20°C here. You mustn’t forget the devious nature of the mountain sun though and be sure to use sunscreen. At the same time, you need to be prepared for the fact that the weather can suddenly turn out to be cold, windy, or rainy.

At each stage, approximately every 20 km, there will be aid stations with water, cola, fruits, and dried fruits, as well as medical care.

There are no mandatory equipment requirements, but you will definitely need a running vest with a couple of flasks or a hydration backpack – since the distance between the aid stations is about 20 km. It is also highly recommended to have headwear, sunscreen, and sunglasses at hand – plus extra clothing in case of cold, wind, or rain. Your footwear must work for running on both asphalt and gravel.

As a rule, we only accept credit cards, but the Entry Fee and several additional services, including our All-Inclusive Package, can also be paid by bank transfer.

See more information at Race Info.
And if you have any questions, just ask!

HOW TO REACH US

There are direct flights to Bishkek from Istanbul and Dubai, the world's largest hubs

Regular buses run from Bishkek to Issyk Kul

Just 35 km from the start, there is Issyk Kul International Airport (Tamchy), with flights from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia

I Am Ultra, LLC, 40 Manas Ave, Off 208, Bishkek, 720001, Kyrgyzstan, welcome@runningexpert.com, +996 700 738721 

I Am Ultra, LLC, 40 Manas Ave, Off 208 Bishkek, 720001, Kyrgyzstan, welcome@runningexpert.com, +996 700 738721