Wheelchair competitor completes seven marathons on seven continents
Twenty competitors from ten countries participated in the third Antarctic Ice Marathon & 100km races held on December 19th and 20th 2007. The events are the southernmost marathon and ultramarathon races in the world, taking place at a latitude of 80 degrees south in the interior of the frozen continent.
In the wheelchair section, held in relatively good weather on December 19th, William Tan of Singapore succeeded in becoming the first person to complete a marathon on all seven continents in a wheelchair. It was a remarkable achievement, taking him 9:48:52 hrs of constant pushing on the wheelchair course. It also represented his seventh marathon on seven continents in only four weeks.
The marathon and 100km footraces were operated concurrently on December 20th because of a weather-related delay in arriving into the Antarctic. However, the conditions became extremely difficult only two hours into the race. Although the temperature was only -8C to -10C, it began to snow and fog descended on the course. Eventually, freezing sleet also confronted the runners. Many found it very problematic just to see the course, which comprised loose snow and ice throughout.
In a close finish, Marc De Keyser (Belgium) won the 26.2-mile marathon in a new record time of 4:42:32 hrs – some two hours slower than his road best. The 43-year-old Belgian has spent a couple of seasons in the Antarctic and was clearly the most comfortable in the poor conditions. Behind him were two Irishmen, Mark Scanlon and Peter Bell. Brazil’s Bernardo Fonseca was fourth, with Raj Patel (Great Britain / India) and Brent Weigner (USA) rounding off the top six.
Given the deteriorating weather situation, only two of the ten originally entered for the 100km (62.1 miles) attempted to run beyond the marathon distance. Top adventure runner, Christian Schiester (Austria) took the 100km title in 19:58:14 hrs with Susan Holliday (Great Britain) becoming the first woman ever to complete the distance in Antarctica.
Henri Girault (FRA) a 71-year-old and a veteran of five-hundred-and-sixty 100km events, could not manage to fulfil his goal of running 100km on the seventh continent but successfully completed a marathon distance.
Both overall winners of the Marathon and 100k received Kobold expedition watches for their efforts in the snow.
The fourth Antarctic Ice Marathon & 100km races are scheduled to take place on December 12th and 15th, 2008. The marathon is a member of the Association of International Marathons & Road Races (AIMS) and the 100km race is the only International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) labelled event in the Antarctic. Both races are also the only running events within the Antarctic Circle and take place in 24-hour daylight.
For further details, see the race website – www.icemarathon.com.