Amazing race 3 – Antarctic 100k
So you are a superfit, healthy adventure athlete. You run fifteen miles before breakfast, and another fifteen after work. While triathlons and Ironmen are your bread and butter, you find ‘normal’ marathons boring, fell running a time-filler and have competed in extreme endurance events in six continents. What’s next? How about the Antarctic 100k?
You have paid your €9,900 entry fee, and are sitting in the plane from Punta Arenas, Chile, to the Union Glacier camp in the interior of the Antarctic. You are making small talk with competitors (including Wim Hof, the Iceman) about previous races and challenges when you realise its the early hours of the morning, and bright sunshine is still streaming through the cockpit window. Of course, you think wisely, the sun doesn’t set this far south in December. The closer you get to 80 degrees South, the further away from home you feel, and are. On your approach to land you look out of the window expecting to see penguins. Then you realise, there are no penguins this far south.
When you land, you realise how cold it is. A wind of 25 knots has blown in from the south pole dropping temperatures way below -20, lower than anything you have experienced. You can’t feel your toes, your fingers or your face, then you realise, you can’t have feelings this far south.
The next morning you wake after a sleepless night’s camping. You line up with your forty fellow competitors from twenty different countries and prepare to start the 62.1 mile trot only to be told you are in the wrong group and the people you have bonded with over the past 24 hours are actually competing in the marathon, the shorter race at a mere 26.3 miles. You join five other competitors in the ultramarathon class and look out across the brilliant glistening landscape. Why do you do this? Because this race presents the only opportunity to complete a 100k event in Antarctica and creates the prospect of a 100k Seven Continents Club for global ultra athletes…. of course!
Broken, sore but elated you arrive at the finishing line. Your time is respectable, but not quite upto the 12:41 of the Brazilian winner (yes, Brazilian!) Well done. You have a lie down for half an hour, and jump in an ice bath to aid recovery. Maybe it’s exhaustion, maybe it’s ambition, maybe it’s stupidity but it’s not long before you are back at mission control asking the organisers about the next amazing race…