Every November, the most extreme and athletic make their way to Antarctica for the southernmost long distance race – an unforgettable 26.2 mile adventure of icebergs and snow. You can be one of the lucky, and maybe a little foolhardy, to run the Antarctic Ice Marathon.
The marathon originated in Greece, and is based in a fable commemorating the mythical run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. The distance? 26 miles and 385 yards.
Rather than the streets of Athens, you’ll take on ice and snow in the Antarctic Marathon, with only a group of totally uninterested very curious seals to cheer you on.
Surprisingly, despite the challenging terrain and freezing temperatures, race times aren’t much slower than those set in the rest of the world. The record is 3:34.47, set by Czech Petr Vabrousek in 2013. In 2007, there was even a wheelchair competitor. William Tan completed the marathon distance on the aircraft runway.
And you shouldn’t have a major issue with acclimatisation. The main problem is getting used to the terrain. But apparently while it can be exhausting in parts, ‘the snow will not be deep: the course will be groomed beforehand so it should be reasonably solid’. That’s reassuring! But you’re still going to need to do a little more prep than running around your local park.
Of course, it best to train for this marathon in cold conditions. But there’s probably a good rule of thumb: if you’ve never been tempted to grab your trainers when it’s snowing out, this will probably be an extra challenge for you. But think of the rewards!
Is this a once in a lifetime ice experience or an absolutely crazy thing to attempt? Probably somewhere delightfully in the middle. If you don’t think an ice marathon is punishing enough, you can always sign up for the annual 100k race. We’ll join you at the finish line with a huge cup of hot chocolate.
Your race start at Union Glacier on Antarctica.
November of every year
What you need to know:
As with all expeditions to Antarctica, weather plays a huge part. As a result, organisers try and stick to the schedule as best they can but they’re not in control of the weather. It’s unlikely the entire event will be cancelled but there’s a possibility of delays, so take this into account when booking your trip and make sure you’ve got an few days in South America before flying home. A long nap in a hotel after the run wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen.