KING GEORGE ISLAND, Antarctica (March 12, 2012) – Mother Nature starred in her usual presenting roll by doling out bone-chilling challenges during the 2012 Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon held March 9 on King George Island located off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The 100 adventurous runners hailing from 12 countries were buffeted by 40 mph wind gusts, wind chills near 5 degrees Fahrenheit and blinding snow during the 13th Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon, announced Boston-based Marathon Tours & Travel, the event and expedition organizer.
Near-blinding snow squalls greeted runners as they passed Artigas, the Uruguayan scientific research base located near the marathon’s turnaround point near the western end of Collins Glacier.
Known as the coldest, windiest and most remote continent on Earth, Antarctica boasts a two-mile thick ice cap and challenging terrain. “Finishing either event proved to be a true test of endurance,” said Thom Gilligan, race director.
“The weather, although extremely demanding at times, was a typical for an Antarctic summer day.”
Terence Bell, 32, of Bondi Beach, Australia took an early lead in the 26.2-mile competition winning in 3 hours, 7 minutes and 58 minutes. In the women’s race, the lead hopscotched back and forth between three women with Brooke Curran, 43, of Alexandria, Va, eventually surging to the front just past 23 miles to garner the women’s title in 4:36:53. Four Chilean research base personnel joined the half-marathon field, dominating the men’s half leaderboard with Americans claiming the women’s podium.
Traveling to a marathon on what is referred to as the “Last Continent,” was a marathon in itself. Athletes traveled 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 boarded the 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.
Antarctica Marathon Men Women 1. Terence Bell, AUS 3:07:58 1. Brooke Curran, USA 4:36:53 2. Robert Krzak, POL 3:27:08 2. Camille Nelson, USA 4:40:37 3. Grant Harrell, USA 3:38:08 3. Toni Wilson, USA 4:50:35
Antarctica Half Marathon Men Women 1. Christian Prat, CHE 1:46:13 1. Heather Burke, USA 2:27:53 2. Manual Barrta, CHE 1:47:38 2. Danielle Nicholas, AUS 2:32:10 3. Luis Reyes CHE 2:04:54 3. Heidi Richardson, USA 2:40:25
Marathon Tours & Travel is the leading marathon tour operator in North America offering comprehensive travel packages to 28 marathons and half marathons on all seven continents, including the Antarctica Marathon and Safaricom Marathon in Kenya, the only marathon run entirely within a game park.