Running the Antarctic Ice Marathon in subzero temperatures
Adventure marathoner Hassan Esufally is fully geared up to tackle the Antarctic Ice Marathon, the only official marathon run on mainland Antarctica, taking place at 80° South, just a few hundred miles from the South Pole in the interior of Antarctica, on 13 December 2018.
The 42.2 km marathon event will require a superhuman effort by participants to overcome the gruelling conditions under which they undertake the race. Training diligently for the event over the last few months, Hassan will race a groomed and marked course with snowmobile support, aid stations and medical personnel at hand for the duration of each race along with participants from many countries. Running a marathon is an arduous task. Running on snow, in subzero temperatures is even more challenging, something Hassan is keenly aware of, but feels equal to the challenge, his aim being to bring pride to Sri Lanka. He has followed an extraordinarily rigorous training schedule leading up to the time he departs for the marathon.
Commenting on the challenge ahead, Hassan said, “The Antarctic Ice marathon is one of the hardest marathons in the world! Personally, I feel it will be the hardest one because of the massive temperature difference. I don’t really like the cold, but sometimes in order to achieve your goals you have to go outside your comfort zone and do the things you aren’t comfortable with. You have to be amongst the fittest people in the world to even stand a chance to get in, because you have to compete in a temperature of -20 C, with 24 hour sunlight, sleeping in igloos or mountain tents, while running with spikes in your shoes for the entire race. Furthermore, the race allows for competitors only, so it’s the first time I am travelling without my wife since I embarked on this journey to complete the seven continents; which is tough because she is a great support system during those times.”
A time limit of 6 hours may be imposed on the half marathon and 10 hours the marathon. Another challenge will be that the participants have to deal with strong Katabatic Winds as well.
Elaborating further, he said: “The marathon follows a stringent selection process, with only 50 people selected per year in this exclusive marathon. I am lucky to be within this select few.
Generally, people visit Antarctica via a ship from the southernmost tip of Chile to King George Island, an island off the coast of Antarctica. But since the race is close to South Pole and very much in inland Antarctica, the Race Director flies competitors to Union Glacier from Punta Arenas via a private plane.”
Esufally has already completed marathons in the continents of Europe (Stockholm Marathon in June 2017), Asia (Colombo Marathon in October 2017), Australia (Melbourne Marathon in 2014 and 2016) and this year he has completed the Boston Marathon in USA (April) and the Big Five Marathon in South Africa (June) – making his country proud!