Posted Thursday, 20 March, 2003
Contact: Thom Gilligan
KING GEORGE ISLAND, Antarctica (MARCH 20, 2003) - Bone-chilling cold, drifting snow and gale-force winds were all par for the course at the sixth Antarctica Marathon and Half-Marathon held March 2, 2003. Over 90 athletes from 13 countries journeyed by land, air and sea to compete on what is known as the darkest, windiest, iciest and most remote continent on earth.
The expedition was greeted by a pre-race summer blizzard which blanketed King George Island, the race site. Snowdrifts as high as six feet crossed many sections of the 13.1-mile double loop race course. Unfazed by the predicament, the race operations crew armed themselves with snow shovels, mounted all-terrain vehicles and forged open passageways for the lead ATV and future pack of runners. "The presence of large quantities of snow was not a new obstacle to the race operations team," remarked Thom Gilligan, president of Boston-based Marathon Tours and Travel, the race organizer and expedition leader.
Excess snow aside, distinctive pink flags and ribbons were planted in the drifts and ice to provide a guiding route on the course which featured gnarly hills, glacial streams and a half-mile ascent on Collins Glacier.
Once the course was deemed safe, race participants were shuttled to shore by zodiac from race headquarters, the Russian converted research vessel, the Akademik Loffe. A running event where shorts and bare legs are observed as frequently as pink flamingoes nesting on ice floes, many of the marathon and half-marathon participants lined up at the start in multiple layers of warm race-day attire. "It's certainly a cold environment, but many runners actually overdress," explained Gilligan.
Following the 10:00 a.m. race start, Kevin Allen, a 28-year-old Brit, exhibited youthful exuberance by taking the pace out hard for the first 9 miles. A more experienced Bogdan Barewski, 48, of Poland stalked him within eye-sight while saving his strength for the second climb on the glacier. A lone fur seal's meandering on the course forced Allen to steer clear of the aggressive mammal costing the leader precious time and energy. Meanwhile Barewski maintained his stride and passed the surprised and faltering Brit at the 10 mile mark. Thoroughly warmed up, Barewski picked up the pace and broke the tape at 3:33:20 followed by Allen in 3:56:56 in second and Tom Ball, third in 3:59:07.
Meanwhile Jane Baldwin, 41, of Phoenix, Arizona and the defending female champion, positioned herself among the top ten men hoping to use her Antarctic experience and adventure racing background to overtake many of the men over the last few miles. Baldwin never wavered and finished first woman and fifth person overall in 4:11:10, a comfortable victory over second-place woman Carolyn Shull, 29, a navy pilot stationed in Puerto Rico who finished her debut marathon in 4:33:29. Beth Friedman, 42, of Wilmington Delaware finished third woman in 4:44:25.
In the half-marathon, Jorge Beltrami, a staff member of the Chilean research base, converted local knowledge into a 21K victory in 1:56:30 followed by Ned Rowan of New York in 2:00:59. The women's division was won by Julia Ryan of Newton, MA in 2:19:11, third place overall.
On a warmer note, women's champion Jane Baldwin and third place finisher Tom Ball did not let cold feet get in the way of their wedding plans aboard the ship later on race day. The Phoenix couple, who met at the race in 2002, was married by the ship's captain.
Top Finishers - Marathon
1. Bogdan Barewski, POL, 3:33:20
2. Kevin Allen, GBR, 3:56:56
3. Tom Ball, USA, 3:59:07
1. Jane Baldwin, USA, 4:11:10
2. Carolyn Shull, USA, 4:33:29
3. Beth Friedman, USA, 4:44:25
Top Finishers - Half Marathon
1. Jorge Beltrami, CHL, 1:56:30
2. Ned Rowan, USA, 2:00:49
3. Dan Prior, USA, 2:30:34
1. Julia Ryan, USA, 2:19:11
2. Bozena Miasojedow, POL, 2:32:58
3. Dianne Brown, CAN, 3:12:42
Marathon Tours and Travel, the leading marathon tour operator in the U.S., offers comprehensive travel packages to marathons worldwide. Travel packages to Antarctica for non-runners also are available. For more information call Marathon Tours and Travel at (617) 242-7845 or log on to www.marathontours.com.
# # #