Antarctica marathon race report – Terence Bell Winner

Thanks again to Terence for another fantastic report

13th Marathon Antarctica – Friday 9 March 2012

Race details:
Terrain: gravel and soft muddy roads adjoining scientific research stations
20knot winds at beginning, increasing to 45knot winds from 10am
Air temp +3degs C, add wind chill factor and feel temp is -10 to -15degs C

1. Start at Russian Bellingshausen Station
2. Run 2.18miles east to Uruguayan Artiga Station and return – total 4.36mi per lap x3 laps in total (13.1mi)
3. Run 2.18miles west to Chinese Station and return: total of 4.36mi per lap x3 laps in total (13.1mi)

Running is a great exercise in humility, teaching one to realise and accept limitations and this is no more apparent than running in Antarctica – today we experienced a wildly harsh, hostile and unforgiving environment, yet it was also extremely beautiful & endearing at the same time.

It’s 0900 and we’re all lined up at the start line in anticipation for the big event – the air was filled with the smell of penguin guano and charged with expectation. I had a positive frame of mind, was injury-free and primed for the experience of a lifetime. All geared up we all push forward on the starter’s call and it doesn’t take me long to find a decent rhythm & pace, desperately trying to heat up the body especially the frozen toes, stiff fingers and chilled ‘to the bone’ core. Chasing closely behind the ATV Quad bike I run easily into the lead from the start and never surrender this position the entire race. It feels like a comfortable pace @~4.20/km although the terrain is certainly quite different than I expected – wet muddy gravelly road combined with steep hills and limited flat areas to stretch the legs out and get some pace. Running up the first of many challenging short sharp hills, navigating around plenty of dirty brown puddles, straight through sloppy mud patches and over long stretches of soft gravel .. this course could be best described as a tough mud trail run. At 2miles in we take a turn just before the Uruguayan baspicturesquely a picturesque glacier comes, spectacular in its glistening whiteness and feeling of endlessness. It is only now that the Antarctic Marathon feels like the real deal and we are here to run in the virgin white wilderness.

With a foot-wide perma-smile which I kept for the entire race I happily greet all other runners on the return leg back to the central point in Russia then continue running out towards China with the wind in my face. The Chinese loop I find much easier with only a few hills and longer flats which allow me to increase my speed, rhythm & cadence. Still following closely behind the ATV I revel in the crowd and runner support that is being thrown my way. Cheers of ‘good job’, ‘you own this race’, ‘you’re killing it’ mainly by the Aussie & American contingent keep me inspired and focused on the task at hand. An oft quoted saying by myself, ‘keep your eyes on the prize’, kept rearing its head.

Coming into this race I was in good form with the real unknown being coping with the harsh & brazen conditions. Today was the real test with conditions starting ideal then changing rather rapidly over the next few laps of the course. It’s well documented that wind shapes everything down here – snow, ice, rocks, animal-life and of-course people’s lives – today was no exception. Harsh gale-force winds started blowing and rain & sleet was hurtling down with the end result being a wet, mud-infested course difficult to navigate and run at a normal marathon pace. At the halfway point in the race I delusionally still had 3hrs as the target, predominantly because Thom had dropped this into the briefing last night with free beer for anyone who runs sub 3hrs. After running through halfway at 91mins this goal became elusive as conditions changed for the worse and at times I was almost knocked off my feet when I rounded some bends.

Pushing through and just enjoying whatever mother nature threw at me I stayed positive and just ticked off the few remaining miles, knowing that if I held my pace it would be very hard for a) anyone else to catch me and b) for them to run faster than me. Passing the final turn, flying into the final downhill then coming around the final bend, the exhilaration finally set in and I knew I had achieved part of what I set out to on this unique adventure – to break the finishing tape in Antarctica. Let the celebrations begin!

Finishing races like Marathon Antarctica gives one the confidence to know that, whatever physical or personal goals are set they can be achieved. I believe this is the gift that Marathon Antarctica bestows upon all finishers.

Marathon Results:
1. Terence Bell (AUS) 3:07:58; Brooke Curran (USA) 4:36
2. Robert Krzak (POL) 3:23:08 ; Camile Nelson (USA) 4:40
3. Grantham Harrell (USA) 3:28:08; Toni Wilson (USA) 4:50

Bondi 7:
Matt Reede: 2:23 (1st: Half)
Danielle Nicholas: 2:32 (3rd: Half)
Stirling Keene: 3:58 (6th: Full)
Dave Bini: 4:56 (16th: Full)
Cam Spittle: 5:07 (17th: Full)
Jason Shepherd: 5:36 (25th)

Gear:
Icebreaker merino wool 200GSM long pant, long sleeve top, running socks
2XU singlet, Helly Hansen windbreaker, DeSoto tri running tights, Polar buff, Lightweight running gloves
Nike Lunar Speedlite shoes
Leppin gels & electrolyte, Clif Bar shot blocks (note of caution, the gels froze solid after 1hr)

You can also read an interview with Terence from Runners World Here

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