Athletes are making final preparations for the southernmost marathon and ultramarathon events in the world. The Antarctic Ice Marathon & 100k races will take place on December 12th and 15th, respectively, at 80 Degrees South in the interior of the seventh continent.
France 3 national television will be on location to film this year's event, which includes three French partcipants with designs on completing both the 26.2 mile marathon and the 100k (62.1 miles). Henri Alain d'Andria, Philippe Moreau and Herve Taquet all finished in the top seven in this year's North Pole Marathon and the experience should stand them in very good stead in Antarctica. Awaiting them in the frozen wasteland will be icy katabatic winds blowing from the South Pole - only several hundred miles away - and the prospect of difficult snow and ice conditions throughout the course.
Joining them on the start line of the marathon will be Tim Harris (Great Britain) who will be completing his seventh marathon in seven weeks on seven continents. Harris is currently on course to enter Guinness World Records for achieving the fastest aggregate time to run a marathon on each continent. Similarily, Noelle Sheridan (USA), the only female entrant, is set to pencil her name into Guinness World Records by completing marathons on all seven continents in seven months, which will be the shortest duration for a female to do so. Her USA compatriot, John Kraus, will also be using the Ice Marathon to achieve the distinction of running a marathon on all seven continents. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the spectrum of marathon experience, Australia's Gavin Melgaard will be making his marathon debut in Antarctica.
The three French participants have been preparing for the Antarctic races by running circuits in a giant freezer or on treadmills positioned in a freezer. Mike Pierce (USA) has been preparing in a similar manner for the 100k race, where he will join race director Richard Donovan (Ireland) to complete the five-person race field. Pierce contested the inaugural Antarctic Ice Marathon in January while Donovan was the only participant to successfully attempt the 100k. Unlike the marathon, a cut-off time of 24 hours is in operation for the 100k event - which is the equivalent of almost 10% of the distance to the South Pole. With 24 hours of daylight at the race location at this time of year, however, darkness won't be an issue to the competitors.
The overall winners of both the marathon and 100k will receive Kobold expedition watches valued at over $5,000.
The Ice Marathon races, which are registered with the Association of International Marathons & Road Races (AIMS), are the only events held within the Antarctic Circle. They are promoted by Polar Running Adventures, the organiser of the annual North Pole Marathon, with all logistical support coming from Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions. Interest in the December 2007 event is already high but there will be a twenty-five person field limit employed.
To obtain more information, images and video, see www.icemarathon.com.