Holy moly, that was hard!
Having been denied a white Christmas here in the UK we thought we would treat our readers to some spectacular images – and performances – from Antarctic Ice Marathon. This amazing event witnessed a new course record on Saturday 14 December, around 600 miles from the South Pole.
Just as Santa was road-testing his sleigh at the opposite pole prior to his busiest day of the year, some 56 runners from 17 countries assembled at Union Glacier Exploration Camp, below the Ellsworth Mountains in Antarctica. Just getting there is a marathon undertaking itself, involving a flight from Punta Arenas in Chile, landing on the blue ice runway at Union Glacier.
Competitors stay in double-walled sleeping tents described as 'roomy and comfortable'. They are based on a design first used by Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. Each tent houses two guests who sleep in polar sleeping bags provided as part of the race registration costs. Tents are allegedly 'naturally heated by the 24-hour sunlight'.
Although there are 10k and half marathon options, the vast majority are here for one thing only and that's the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Conditions this year were windy but sunny and relatively mild. Mild in Antarctic terms can mean an average -20C wind chill in the strong katabatic winds.
The race winner, in an astonishing 3:34:12 course record, was William Hafferty (USA) whose immediate finish line assessment was: “Holy moly. That was hard. I enjoyed every step. Every step was worth a half a step because you slipped. It was, like, take a step and you slip back”.
Also inside four hours were Mauritz van Rensberg (South Africa, 3:43:12) and Mark Liebold (USA, 3:58:49). Anthony Vaughan (GB, 4:53:49) was ninth overall. The top three women were Lenka Frycova (Czech Republic, 4:40:38), Beata Larson (Poland, 5:30:32) and Danielle Nelson (USA, 5:32:35). Lynette Lewington (GB) ran 7:08:23 for ninth place.
However, for most observers the performance of the race was achieved by 84-year-old Roy Svenningsen (Canada, 11:41:58) who became the oldest person ever to run a marathon in Antarctica. Roy arrived with the final woman Ludivina Pherrer (Phillipines) and had more trouble with the finish line banner than in completing the two-lap marathon, as you can see in this remarkable short video. Put on your thermals and immerse yourself in the ice and snow!
Antarctic Ice Marathon is organised by World's Marathons promoting amazing sports events around the world to inspire a healthier lifestyle. Certainly a message exemplified by Roy Svenningsen and the other 55 runners in Antarctica.
Wonderful images courtesy Antarctic Ice Marathon on Facebook