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Last week I finally made it to the North Pole for the marathon which was a truely amazing experience, especially considering the location which is a surreal mixture of beautiful, rugged, harsh and peaceful all at the same time.
The 42.2km race took place on the 6th April at 21.00 GMT with all 41 competitors from 18 countries managing to finish the gruelling event which took place in "ideal" conditions of -27 deg C and a light breeze. For running, it was completely brutal with parts of the course comprising hard ice, then all of a sudden our feet would sink through up to our knees and then other parts were shin deep soft snow which was equally hard. No chance to get into a rhythm as we were constantly falling or stumbling, but none-the-less great fun.
In order to reach the race location, we assembled in Spitsbergen, an island situated 1,000 km off the northern coast of mainland Norway. We were delayed there 2 days while the Russians who operate the ice camp fought the conditions to complete the ice runway. The spare time was put to good use checking out the arctic running gear to make sure everythig worked at the low temps and also checking out alternative means of transport incl. dog sledding and skidoos ! Also managed to check out a few local delicacies such as minky whale, seal and reindeer - not exaclty the usual pasta party before a marathon, but then it was not a usual marathon.
We then flew to Barneo Ice Camp which is a temporary scientific camp set up on an ice flow located around the georaphic North Pole moving with the currents. We moved over 5km while we were there!
A marked circuit of 4.22 km was laid out through the small pressure ridges and ice hillocks that dotted the horizon and contestants were required to cover exactly 10 laps. The course was patrolled by armed personnel as two polar bears were spotted in the area during the previous week.
In the end I managed to finish 6th which was totally unexpected in a time of 5hrs 52mins 04 sec, completely knackered but very happy.
To top it off, I've so far managed to raised almost £3,500 for a extremely worth while cause and want to say a huge thank you to everyone that has donated and to those who have said that they will. I did have an adventure of a lifetime and with the money raised am achieving the other goal I had for the trip.
Many, many thanks Ian
Why this challenge?
After completing the Great Wall Marathon last year and taking 1hr 35mins off my previous time to finish in 5hrs 5mins, I was looking another challenge and “stumbled” on the chance to run at the North Pole. How Cool will that be? Actually, approx. -30 deg.C, so really very cool! Apart from being the Northernmost Marathon on Earth, it’s also the only marathon that is run entirely 'on' water, the frozen water of the Arctic Ocean with 6 – 12 ft of ice between the runners and the Arctic Ocean. See www.northpolemarathon.com. And while I am expecting the adventure of a lifetime, I am also hoping to raise as much money as possible for a very worthwhile cause.
Why this charity?
Last year my father was diagnosed with Parkinson's and so I have chosen to run for The Cure Parkinson's Trust which has one bold aim - to cure Parkinson's. Their research portfolio is dynamic and they are uncovering new targets for the treatment of Parkinson’s. Founded by patients, and driven by patient supporters who are demanding new treatments, they are passionate about finding a cure.
In the UK, one person in every 500 has Parkinson's, that's about 120,000 people and with the Global incidence of PD at between 8 and 18 per 100,000 people per year, it affects a lot of lives. Parkinson’s suffers can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. There's currently no cure and it is not known yet know why people get the condition.
What you can do?
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate - I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
So please dig deep and donate now - you can sponsor me by the mile (26.2), the km (42.2), the average temp (-30) or whatever amount you can spare. Many thanks.