The southernmost marathon and ultramarathon races on earth have concluded at Patriot Hills, Antarctica with wins for Ireland, the USA and Australia.
Nineteen competitors from eleven countries took part in the fifth Antarctic Ice Marathon & 100k, which is operated at 80 Degrees South latitude in the interior of the frozen continent. The participants encountered sub-zero temperatures, 24 hours of daylight and challenging underfoot terrain.
The 100km race took place on 14th December where Richard Donovan (IRL) secured the title for the third time ahead of Mark Fell (GBR). It was Donovan’s slowest time to date as snowfall ensured the conditions were akin to running on sand. With -14C wind chill temperatures and several lengthy inclines on the course, it was a particularly grueling challenge on this occasion.
On the following day, the men’s marathon (42.2km) proved to be a very exciting duel between Jason Wolfe (USA) and Mark de Keyser (Belgium). The terrain over the first half of the marathon route remained quite soft, but clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine and astonishing scenery provided great respite for the competitors. Wolfe, a triathlete and mountaineer from Chicago, gained control over the final 15km to win convincingly in a time of 4:46:50 hrs. He received a Kobold expedition watch for his victory.
The women’s marathon title was won by Richelle Turner (AUS) who finished ahead of compatriot Sharyn Fitzgerald. Turner led from start to finish.
For several of the competitors in the marathon, namely, Jacques Fox (LUX), Gregory McCarthy (USA), Peter Jensen (DEN) and Jarowlaw Rajtar (POL), the event was the finale of running seven marathons on seven continents. Helmut Linzbichler (AUS) completed the race after scaling Antarctica’s highest peak to become the oldest person in the world to complete the seven summits (the highest mountain on each continent).
The Antarctic Ice Marathon and 100k are the only official footraces within the Antarctic Circle. The marathon is a member of the Association of International Marathons & Distance Races (AIMS) and the 100km race is an International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) labelled event.
The next Antarctic Ice Marathon & 100k trip takes place from 10th – 18th December 2010. See www.icemarathon.com for details.