Antarctica Marathon 2014: Day 3: Race Day

Antarctica Marathon 2014: Day 3: Race Day

This is a post about the critical race day put on by Marathon Tours!

The race was scheduled to start at 9am so wakeup call was about 6am, which is decently late. Breakfast started at 6:30am. I woke up a bit early to eat my granola bars and use the restroom. I also ate a bit more during breakfast. They had their normal breakfast course so I took full advantage of that.

So the first thing we had to survive was the Zodiac landing. They started sending the boats out to land around 7:30, so gave us about an hour window to get off the ship. I took the one a little bit after 8am to make sure I got there on time. Once we got on land, we had to hike up a small hill to where the start line was. Normally, the race starts right where the Zodiacs dock but this year, the Russians were using that as a landing site so we had to move the start line uphill, which means the marathoners had to finish on an uphill. Not ideal but we had to make adjustments.

Below is a picture near the Zodiac landing, and then the hill to the right of the picture. I took the picture from behind a rock in the staging area besides the start line.


Once we got near the starting area, we had to change into our race gear. Most of us wore our racing stuff underneath the wetskins so it was just a matter of stripping off the warm wetskins and boots, and change into our sneakers.

There are three areas where you can leave water bottles and/or gatorade bottles: at start and each side of the course. It was an out and back on both sides of the course, so about 3 miles out, 3 back to the start, then another 3 out and 3 back. Half marathoners had 3 segments, while marathoners had the full 6 segments, or three full loops. The water bottles were positioned about 2 miles from the start, so you would have access to your bottle every 2 miles, which was pretty smart and efficient. In weather like that, 2 miles is pretty good. I wore my own water but just in case, I dropped a large gatorade bottle at the start in case I needed more electrolytes. I ended up not needing it, and just ate my 4 packs of Clif Shot Bloks along the course.

Below are some pictures of the staging area besides the start line.


The runner in blue works for the Athens Marathon. He brought the Olympic torch to this years race (wasn’t lit until he got onto land).


It was very muddy at the start, but not that crowded. It had rained and snow almost all day the day before during the race day of the other ship. It was clear and no wind at the start, which was awesome.

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Crowd thinned out quickly along the mud trail. Much of the first half of the course very muddy and hilly. The second half of the course was less hilly and much better running. There was gravel on the half of the course, but still good running. You need to be careful on the gravel as there were some fair sized rocks and I slightly rolled my ankle twice on it. It wasn’t much of an issue the second and third time around but something to note when running the course and also running along it when you’re mind isn’t all quite there after 18 miles in the cold.


Below is the picture of the overall winner of the Marathon, which I’ll write about tomorrow.

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Above was a picture of the female winner of the Antarctica Marathon at just above 4 hours. Below is a picture of how I started the race. I had my jacket on but took it off for a few loops. About half way through the race, it got very windy so I put back on my jacket.


Below are some pictures of the course:

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Picture beow was the Russian helicopter that was moving some supplies from their ship to their research base.

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Picture of the sign for the Chinese research station.

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At this point, there was snow blowing sideways at us. It was snowy on this side of the course after about 4 hours, but nothing on the other side of the course.


The first three hours was amazing there. No rain and some wind. The wind picked up for the second half of our race. It got up to about 30-40mph, gusting more than that. At times with my hood on, the wind was as loud as a plane flying overhead. Most of the time I couldn’t tell the difference as there were a few planes taking off from the airport nearby. There was some snow on parts of the course. Luckily I didn’t need to use my ski goggles because of the wind.

Below is the picture of my finish:

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I was just so relieved to finish the race in near freezing conditions and also to finally complete my goal of running all seven continents.

Bill, who had done this marathon for 10 years, commented we got the best weather for a marathon in a long while. Usually there is a mix of snow, rain, sleet and wind throughout the race. This was the conditions ship 1 got, so their times was a bit lower than ship 2. However, there were many more top seeded runners on the ship 2 than ship 1. We had 2,3,4 on our ship. The person that came in third and fourth overall were not even seeded runners.

Right after I finished, there were some crew who was helping us get dressed and back on the boat. I quickly put on my wet skins and boots (took about 5 minutes) and even with all that clothing, I started to feel cold. I had my snowboarding jacket in my drybag just in case but I was fine without it. I waited for a few of my shipmates to finish but started to walk back before the last one of our group finished. Luckily, I saw him on the way down to the landing area.

It was a pretty gentle Zodiac ride back onto the ship. Once aboard, I changed out of my clothes and had a shower. The hot shower was good but I’ve ran in colder weather before and a warm shower after a 15+ mile run in sub freezing (<30F) temperature is amazing. After the shower, I went into the dining area to eat. There was some chili and pasta, which tasted amazing after being out there for about 8 hours (1 hour before, 6 hour race, 20 minutes post race, another 20 minutes to get back on the boat). After that, I went up to the bar to download all the pictures and video I captured during the race.

It was an amazing race and experience. I’ve ran in cold temperature and snow before but there was something very unique about running in Antarctica.

1 Comment on "Antarctica Marathon 2014: Day 3: Race Day"

  1. I don’t know if I’ll ever do Antarctica, but seeing all these pictures gave me a better idea what it’s like.

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