John Willson completed his fourth continent half marathon on March 13th in the Antarctic. John crossed the Arctic Circle as a crew member of an icebreaker – CGS Camsell along the North West passage in 1966. Fifty years later this makes him think he is now bi-polar.
The race ( http://www.marathontours.com/index.cfm/page/Antarctica-Marathon-and-Half-Marathon/pid/10734 ) started at the Russian station in the rain on an initially hard packed pit run gravel trail like road about 9 AM. The race was a 2.18 mile out and back outside the Russian, Chilean, and Chinese stations traversed 3 times for the half. Elevation gain and loss was from sea level, with about 4 rolling and spiking hills up to about 300 meters. During the race there were 4 kinds of snow, 2 kinds of rain, a warm spell (plus 2 C) and no wind, and winds gusting up to 60 miles an hour (Yes 60). The road was black sand with gravel, various sizes of gravel, boulders, and uncrushed rock. Access before and after the race was using zodiacs from the ioffe ship in the bay about half a mile away. The road had various kinds of volcanic sand, gravel, boulders, and rock initially just wet with lots of pot holes, puddles, and little streams running across it. After loop one the road included lots of mud a nd sand with snow and ice in it. The race was called at 5:45 for very unhappy marathoners because of white out conditions, extreme wind, and safety returning to the ship. There was no on shore warmth at any time and race supporters helped dress finishers who usually had no feeling in their hands and provided comfort to those hypothermic. However, there were penguins at the start and the turnaround point and a seal hazard at the 24 mile marker with occasional birds both in the air and on the road. It was a great race with a few little challenges and slow for an old pavement road runner.