BOSTON (March 1, 2012) – Runners from 23 states and 13 countries spanning six continents will travel to the coldest, windiest and most remote continent on Earth to participate in the 13th Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon set for March 9, announced Boston-based Marathon Tours & Travel, the event and expedition organizer.
Staged on King George Island located off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, the 26.2- and 13.1-mile courses transverse gravel roads that connect and pass the scientific research bases of Uruguay, Chile, China and Russia. Race-day temperatures can range from 15 to 34 F with wind gusts that can easily reach 40 mph. Held at the tail end of the Antarctic summertime, heavy snow is rare but light flurries are common.
Traveling to a marathon on what is referred to as the “Last Continent,” is a marathon in itself. Athletes will travel an average of 7,000 miles each, first to Buenos Aires, Argentina before departing to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern-most city in the world. There they will board Akademik Ioffe, a Russian icebreaker ship for a two-day crossing of the Drake Passage, a body of notorious for being one of the roughest seas in the world. The 14-day expedition also includes a number of landings on the continent, sea kayaking and wildlife viewing.Despite its extreme nature, the Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon has sold out 10 of its last 13 editions, usually years in advance, and is presently sold out through 2015. “Antarctica is a hot destination amongst marathon runners,” says Thom Gilligan, race director and expedition leader. “There is a world-wide market of travel-loving marathoners who want to experience the world’s most pristine environment and, in many cases, fulfill their goal of running a marathon on all seven continents.”
Notable entrants include:
Dean Schuster (Columbia, SC) – Dean is running the Antarctica Marathon to raise money for Oceanites, the marathon’s official charity. Oceanites is a non-profit organization that researches the impact of tourism on Antarctica’s environment. To-date, Dean has raised $25,705 of his $30,000 goal. Leading up to the Antarctica Marathon, Dean ran a half marathon in a head-to-toe penguin suit to raise funds and awareness for the cause. For more information on Dean, please visit http://runningwithpenguins.com/.
Ziyad Rahim (Qatar, Pakistan) – The first-ever Pakistani Antarctica Marathon participant, Ziyad is running to raise funds for Facing Africa, a non-profit that provides funding for volunteer surgeons to travel to Nigeria and Ethiopia to perform facial reconstruction surgery for victims of noma – an acute, ravaging gangrenous infection affecting the face. Two weeks after his Antarctic 26.2-miler Ziyad will run the 250-kilometer Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert and complete his goal to finish a marathon on all seven continents. He will be the first Pakistani to finish seven marathons on all seven continents.
Don Kern (Grand Rapids, Mich.) – The consummate globetrotter, Don has run a marathon on all seven continents – four times – and is currently working on his fifth romp around the globe. In 2010 Don ran a marathon on all seven continents in 25 days, 18 hours, 10 minutes – a World Record for that feat.
Anthanette “Toni” Wilson (New York City, NY) – Toni, a 37-year-old attorney, hopes to be the first African-American woman to finish a marathon on all seven continents. After finishing the Antarctica Marathon, she plans to finish marathons in Africa and Australia, both in 2012.
The Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon’s official charity is Oceanites, Inc., a non-profit organization that researches the impact of tourism on Antarctica’s environment. Participants raised over $70,000 on behalf of the organization in 2011 with an increase in donations expected this year.