If, unlike perhaps most Canadians, all you want for Christmas is more cold, snowy weather to run in, here’s one for your bucket list: 41 men and 10 women from around the world recently travelled to Antarctica and finished this year’s Antarctic Ice Marathon on December 13.
American Sandra Johnson, the 10th woman and last person to finish, was on the course for 13 hours–more than four hours longer than the ninth-place female finisher.
Also, a blizzard descended on the area after the race, delaying the group’s flight back to South America by four days.
Piotr Suchenia of Poland was the first man across the finish line at this year’s marathon, with a time of 3:48:18. Isaac Thyer of Australia was second, in 4:19:19, and Alexander Rudiger of Austria third, in 4:31:57. Roma Pulsiene of Lithuania was the first woman to finish, in 5:03:32. Natalie Arnold of Australia was second, in 6:15:14, and Gurmeet Bhalia of India third, in 6:55:46.
The race takes place at 80 degrees south latitude, at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains, not far from the South Pole, and is one of only two official running events that take place inside the Antarctic Circle on mainland Antarctica. (The other is the Antarctica International Marathon, which is the kickoff to the World Marathon Challenge, in February. Both are organized by Global Running Adventures, which also organizes the North Pole Marathon, which is run in April.)
The men’s course record is 3:34.47, and was set by Petr Vabrousek of the Czech Republic in 2013. The women’s course record is 4:20.02, and was set by Fiona Oakes of Great Britain, also in 2013.
The average temperature at the South Pole is -49 C. But many parts of the continent are considerably less cold, such as Union Glacier, where the race is held. December and January are generally the warmest months.
Congratulations to Poland's Piotr Suchenia for winning this year's @AntarcticIceMar @RichardDonovan7 @mikebreakfast @docandrewmurray @Antarctic_ALE @AntarcticReport @iainaxon @mikewardian @runnersworld #marathon @allantarctica pic.twitter.com/BsV7Bvz2zQ
— HUTC – Dave Painter (@HUTCTV) December 18, 2018
There is also a half-marathon (called the Frozen Continent Half-Marathon), which starts at the same time as the marathon, and a 10K and 5K. There has also been a 100K in the past, though it was not run on the same day. There are currently no plans to revive the distance.
The registration fee is €16,000 (approximately CDN $24,640), which includes flights to and from Chile, meals and accommodation (in tents) in Antarctica.
Participants gather in Punta Arenas, Chile and are flown to the race the day before, and back again the day after.