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Irish runner sets course record at chilly Antarctic marathon

Seán Tobin ran the fastest-ever marathon on the continent of Antarctica in 2:53:33

Sean Tobin Antarctic Ice Marathon 2022 Photo by: Antarctic Ice Marathon

Braving snow and freezing temperatures, Tipperary, Ireland’s Seán Tobin set a course record for the Antarctic continent in his first shot at the marathon distance. Tobin ran 2:53:33, besting the previous course record of 2:54:54, set in 2017 by renowned American ultrarunner Mike Wardian, known for his recent cross-U.S. run. Tobin was far ahead of second-place Joan Pere Carbonell Alberti of Spain, who clocked 3:29:04, the Irish Times reported.


The 17th Antarctic Ice Marathon was held Wednesday in temperatures around -15 C, with more than 60 participants from 20 countries finishing the event. Touted as “the southernmost marathon on Earth,” the race is organized by ultrarunner Richard Donovan, also Irish, who, like Wardian, completed a cross-U.S. run in 2022.

Tobin, 28, who has held the Irish national titles of 1,500m and 10,000m, opted for the frigid Antarctic race for his marathon debut. Donovan shared post-race that Tobin’s speedy time was astonishing: “I’ve never seen anything like it, to be able to run that fast in this kind of conditions.” He added, “It’s like running in sand. You can’t really get a spring off it.”

Tobin described it as similar to “running in a real deep muddy cross country race,” sharing to RTE News that on one turn “he just went completely legless and hit the ground.” Tobin’s coach Feidhlim Kelly made the journey with him and also ran the marathon, finishing sixth overall, in 4:20:58.

The race is held in Union Glacier, a few hundred miles from the South Pole, and is only accessible by air via a four-and-a-half hour flight from Punta Arenas in Chile. U.S. runner Becca Pizzi broke the tape in the women’s race in 4:24:15. A total of 46 men and 11 women completed this year’s marathon event.

Race director Donovan is no stranger to the area. In 2011, he completed the first 100-mile run within the Antarctic Circle, and in 2012 he set a record for running marathons on all seven continents when completing the World Marathon Challenge in four days, 22 hours and three minutes.

For more information about the Antarctic Ice Marathon or to see full results, head here.

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