Hi friends 🙂
I hope everyone is having a great week so far! I am so excited today…!! Because today is the day where I get to share with you my new blog series “Running around the world”!
The inspiration for these series came to me from all my travels! I ‘ve had the amazing opportunity to run in so many different places around the world and the differences are so striking… to aspects that some times we – runners – not even think about. Also wouldn’t it be great to go on holidays somewhere and already know where to run or what the proper running etiquette of this place is?? That could happen through these series!!
And to kick off these series on a high note, our first “Running around the world” post could be nothing else but the coldest marathon on earth! The NORTH POLE MARATHON story comes to you from the first Greek contester to run and complete the race – Zacharias Daniilakis!!
- Where are we travelling today?
So here is his story 😀
I had the honor and joy not only to participate in the coldest marathon in the world, but also to be the first Greek runner to take part in this race since its conception.
The North Pole Marathon course is atop the frozen sea, with the temperature fluctuating between -25 to -35 degrees Celsius (-15 to -30F). It isn’t a point to point race. For safety reasons the course is a loop about 4 or 5 km long, with suggested stops after each loop to get checked out in the medical tent, which also doubles as a holding spot for our energy drinks and anything else we might need during the race. Oh, and there are snipers posted around the perimeter, in case a Polar Bear decides to drop by to see what all the commotion is about.
On the competition side of things, your biggest challenge obviously isn’t the clock, but the weather. The more you can adapt to the freezing cold during the race the better you’ll do. You can control and skip some pit stops, but not ignore them altogether. You have to warm up, avoid frostbites, change your thermals and of course refuel with snacks and energy drinks, which you can not carry on you cause they will freeze! The organizers suggest that athletes take stops every loop both for replenishing their energy and for safety reasons. Personally I believe that the winner will always be the one to judge perfectly the amount of stops they need, threading the fine balance of risk vs time.
The medical personnel keeps a close eye on all the runners during the race, and they won’t let you get back out if they judge that its not safe at your current condition, not till you regain your bodily balance. Frostbites are a common occurrence, but the real danger is hypothermia. Don’t forget that the race takes place at the planet’s most remote spot, and the closest hospital is a long and dangerous way away. The experience of the organizers is invaluable, not only taking all the conceivable precautions but going to great lengths to explain the danger of that endeavor, but ultimately its up to every participant to judge the risk they are willing to take.
In order to prepare, I trained under my coach Nikos Dimitriadis. The schedule was three to four runs a week, one of which was a long training session in the Greek mountains with the MyAthlete team. The challenges I faced during the race were relatively low. After the 23rd km I had small frostbites on my cheeks and the doctors had me wait for about 15 minutes till my color returned to normal. Same thing happened at the 28th and at the next stop I had to change my thermal layers since my sweat had frozen and it felt like I had a block of ice wrapped around my body. I could feel the cold numbing me and I didn’t want to risk hypothermia. Closing on the 38th km I realized that the same thing had happened to my shocks. My toes were freezing but I only had 4 km to go and I didn’t want to lose more time. In the end I made it through with just a small frostbite on my toes.
I’d gladly take part again, this time better prepared thanks to my experience. I want to wish to everyone good health, inner strength and thirst for adventure that are the seasoning of our life.
–> Q&A with Zacharias 🙂
Q: How did you get all the way to North Pole?
A: Athens – Copenhagen – Oslo – Svalbard – North Pole.
Q: What about accommodation arrangements?
A: At Svalbard you can stay at various Hotels , in North pole you stay at the Barneo camp at specific tents but this is only for 2/3 days .
Q: Did you have sponsors ?
A: I believe that ultimately fulfills us is reaching for our goals, things we want to achieve. It is something I’m doing for myself, and in my view not something that I need a sponsor for, or reason enough to seek one. And from that view point it doesn’t seem morally right: It’s like wanting to go to the Cinema, the Theater or just out for a night dancing to have the time of your life and seek a sponsor to cover your expenses. It is something I do for me, for my pleasure, my fulfillment and I don’t want someone else to pay for it.
Q: Any advice for runners that would like to try it?
A: Train well , decide it, believe in, it dedicate your self and go for it. Every second of it it’s worthy it!!
I hope you guys enjoyed reading about running in North pole as much as I did! It is a jaw-dropping story isn’t it??
Till next time with other exotic (and not) running destination!!
Any one who has a running story from ANYWHERE in the world that would like to be part of these series is welcome!! Shoot me an email to email@example.com or send me a tweet or a Facebook or an Instagram message!