Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hardcore Runners Head to Antarctica For Marathon

How hardcore are you?

People who train outside the box are licking their chops and picking up side jobs to fund a trek to Antarctica this November. A celebration of the 100th anniversary of human presence on the Antarctic continent promises numerous athletic events. According to the sponsoring website, even penguins don’t even go this far south.

Offerings include a 100k run, marathon, half-marathon, triathlon, duathlon, and a quick mile run.

Participants can expect running on a surface comprised entirely of snow and ice, average windchill of -20 degrees Celsius, altitude of 3000 feet, and the possibility of strong katabatic winds.

John Goodge, a scientist who writes for the New York Times, describes katabatic winds (

“Katabatic winds are an Antarctic specialty. They are a phenomenon of nature, but they are no friend to those of us who are mere summertime outsiders. Katabatics form by cold air masses descending onto the ice cap and spreading along the ground. There is nothing to stop them, so they form sheet-like rivers of air and blowing snow. It seems like you are in a relentless storm, but it’s odd because when you look up, the sky is most often sunny and blue, seemingly benign…. The hardest part about dealing with katabatics is that they can last for days on end, unlike most storms we are familiar with at home that come with short-lived frontal systems.”

For video of katabatic wind see

Only twelve slots are available for the first triathlon and duathlon on the southern continent. These are scheduled for December 1. The triathlon includes running, mountain biking, and cross country skiing in increments of approximately 10km. The duathlon consists of running and mountain biking.

The Antarctic Ice Marathon starting line is plotted at “80 Degrees South, just a few hundred miles from the South Pole at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains.” It is scheduled for November 30, 2011 by Polar Running Adventures ( ). Flags guide participants along the path, but organizers warn runners to “keep your peripherals covered and…be alert to any signs of frost damage.”

The White Continent Half-Marathon is available which covers 13.1 miles of Antarctic territory.

Runners who like running short distances can participate in a one mile run called The Antarctic Mile on November 30.

Adventurers whose interests expand beyond running can climb the highest mountain in Antarctica called Vinson Massif or fly to the exact latitude and longitude of the South Pole.

The winners circle of the 2010 races included Men’s Marathon Champion Miles Cudmore (4.36.53 hrs), Women’s Marathon Champion Kirsi Montonen (5.03.48 hrs), Men’s 100k Champion Marc de Keyser (12.49.51 hrs), Women’s 100k Champion Pushpa Chandra (18.33.08 hrs), and the Half-Marathon Champion Frank Staples (3.45.18 hrs).

More information is available at

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