Also known as “The Last Marathon,” the Antarctica Marathon is held annually on King George Island, located off the Antarctic Peninsula in Antarctica – the coldest, windiest and most remote continent on Earth.
“There has been tremendous interest in running a marathon on all seven continents ever since the inaugural Antarctica Marathon in 1995,” says Thom Gilligan, president of Marathon Tours & Travel and race director of the Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon. “The goal of running a marathon on all seven continents is an extraordinary feat attempted by ordinary people in their pursuit of self-discovery or other notable goals.”
In 1998, Marathon Tours founded a Seven Continents Club to recognize those who have accomplished this feat. Since then, more than 367 globetrotting runners have achieved the goal, according to Gilligan.
Despite its extreme nature, the Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon has sold out 11 of its last 14 editions, usually years in advance, and is presently sold out through 2016.
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 often referred to as the “Last Continent,” is a marathon in itself. Athletes will travel an average of 6,500 miles each; first to Buenos Aires, Argentina, before departing to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern-most city in the world. There they will board Akademik loffe, a Russian icebreaker ship for a two-day crossing of the Drake Passage, a body of water 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.
Other notable entrants include:
Hein Wagner (Kuilsriver, WC, South Africa) – Totally blind from birth, Hein has a passion for adventure, endurance sports and enabling others with disabilities. He will be the Antarctica Marathon’s first-ever totally blind participant who will run with a guide. Hein, 40, is raising funds for Vision Trust, a non-profit he founded whose mission is to make the world a more accessible place for persons with disabilities and to promote the integration of disabled persons into the workplace, sports arenas and the arts.
Winter Vinecki (Salem, OR, USA) – Winter is a 14-year-old athletic dynamo on a mission. The ace student, a nationally ranked triathlete and aerial skiing Olympic hopeful, is on a mission to be the youngest person to finish marathons on all seven continents. She expects to finish her quest by the time she is 15. Winter is also on a mission to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research, a disease that claimed her father. She will be the youngest runner ever to tackle the Antarctica Marathon.
Lynn McLernon, MD (Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia, Canada) – Lynn is running the Antarctica Marathon to celebrate her five-year cancer free status. She was 39 years old when she found hard lumps in her armpit. As a doctor, she knew that she was feeling lymph nodes and learned that she had an aggressive cancer that had actually not only given her multiple breast cancers, but had eaten through her lymph nodes. Lynn‘s treatment included a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and herceptin, a relatively new medication. Lynn is running to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research. If Lynn had been diagnosed a few years earlier, before herceptin was developed, she believes that she would not have survived. This will be Lynn’s eighth marathon, but the first since her cancer diagnosis five years ago.
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 $100,000 on behalf of the organization during the past two years. Another large donation is expected in 2013.
For more information on the Antarctica Marathon, please visit http://www.marathontours.com/
About Marathon Tours & Travel
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.