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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

the marathon race at ...... 'Antarctica' ... !!! the coolest one...

Often Marathon runs are organized by Corporates for raising funds… not all  sports are followed in India and not all achievements make great headlines !   .. though Athletics is very interesting – in the sport of Running – there is vast difference between ‘long distance and sprint’.  In common parlance, anything of extended contest or great endurance is called ‘marathon’ – which in fact is a long distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), that is usually run as a road race.   Legend has it that this event is  in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens.

The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 500 marathons are contested throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes. Larger marathons can have tens of thousands of participants.  The Berlin Marathon is a major running and sporting event held annually in Berlin, Germany. First initiated in 1974, the event traditionally takes place on the last weekend in September.  Most  marathon world records for men and women have been set at the Berlin course, which is known for its flat profile, even surface, cheering spectators, and its frequently mild autumn temperatures. This is currently sponsored by BMW.

Miles away lies Antarctica …….. Earth's southernmost continent, containing the geographic South Pole. At 14.0 million km2 (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages at least 1 mile (1.6 km) in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. The Antarctic Treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists from many nations.

The Southern Ocean is home to more than 10,000 unique species including most of the world’s penguins, whales, seabirds, colossal squid and the remarkable Antarctic toothfish — the main target of fishing companies in the region. It is a crucial area for scientific research, both for studying how intact marine ecosystems function and for determining the impacts of global climate change. In Nov 2013, Antarctica was the centre as many converged – not for research but for sports…. It was for the ninth Antarctic Ice Marathon  which took place at 80 Degrees South, just a few hundred miles from the South Pole at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains.  The Antarctic Ice Marathon is the only marathon run in the interior of the Antarctic and is organised by Polar Running Adventures, the organiser of the annual North Pole Marathon.

The five-day itinerary  attracted competitors flying  by private jet from Punta Arenas, Chile, on November 19th to the marathon location at Union Glacier. A marked course of 42.2km (26.2 miles) had been prepared and snowmobile support, aid stations and medical personnel readied at hand for the duration of the race. There also was the  Antarctic 100k ultra race - undoubtedly, “the world’s coldest 100”, distance race.

It was not free-for-all ~ the registration fee was  €10,500, which included the round-trip from Punta Arenas, Chile, accommodation and food at the choice arena.

The Antarctic Ice Marathon was established by Richard Donovan / Polar Running Adventures to enable marathon runners to complete a marathon on all seven continents. It also enables athletes to complete the marathon grand slam - a marathon on all seven continents and the North Pole.  So at Antarctica it was different action altogether… the silence broken only by the sound of boots crunching the frozen wasteland beneath as people ran animatedly.  Toughest of the challenges as it was on snowy tundra where temperatures can drop below minus 30 C, intensified by strong katabatic winds — cold, high-density currents that swirl down mountains and glaciers.

There would be none to cheer – not even penguins as  no penguins live this far south and you will have to rely upon yourself to push onward in the hushed, indomitable surroundings,” warns the marathon’s website. ~ and in the chilling weather, Six Japanese competitors took part in the first ever Antarctic Triathlon - running, mountain biking, x-country skiing. The Antarctic Ice Marathon organisers will organise an Antarctic Triathlon and Duathlon each year, beginning in January 2015.

It is a totally different World out there…

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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