FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Patrice Malloy
Summertime Snow Blankets the Antarctica Marathon
KING GEORGE ISLAND, Antarctica – (February 28, 2007) The White Continent
lived up to its shivery reputation when an overnight snowstorm blanketed
King George Island for the eighth running of the Antarctica Marathon and
Half Marathon. Sponsored by Capella University, an online university, the
competitions were held on Monday, February 26, 2007.
A hardy contingent of 188 runners from 19 countries traveled to the bottom
of the Earth to challenge the 26.2 and 13.1-mile courses, which included an
arduous three-quarter mile ascent of a crusty glacier.
Swathed from head to toe, the runners and race crew were shuttled from two
Russian research ships in Zodiacs for the 9:00 am start at Bellingshausen,
the Russian scientific research base.
Once underway, the participants got a taste of the world's most extreme
biosphere as they navigated their way over ice and snow-covered mud, rocks
and trails in sub-zero wind chills and occasional white-out conditions.
"These were perfect Antarctic conditions," said Thom Gilligan, race
director and expedition leader.
Even weather-robust Minnesotans were affected by the day's onslaught of
nature. "There was a stretch on the course when I could not see anything in
front of me because of the swirling snow," said Michelle Johnston, of Lake
City, Minn., during an interview via satellite telephone. "That is when I
got too close to a huge barking seal." The 33-year-old mother of four
finished the frozen jaunt in five hours, 33 minutes and 59 seconds.
The marathon was won by Matt Tyler, 33, of Shawnigan Lake, BC, who took the
lead about half-way and maintained a strong, steady pace to finish in
3:51:33. Christina Harding, 31, of Weston, Mass., came from behind in the
last two miles to win the women's division in 4:54:50.
Jeanne Stawiecki, 56, of Charlton, Mass., finished the marathon in 5:22:08
resulting in a successful bid to run a marathon on all seven continents in
the shortest duration of time. Pending verification, she accomplished this
feat in 141 days. Ginny Turner, a race walker from Hillsboro, Ore., was the
last finisher (8:30:35) but the first woman to complete a marathon on all
seven continents - twice.
The brutal conditions prevented Dr. William Tan, the event's lone
wheelchair competitor, from completing his second attempt at the marathon.
Tan, who has completed marathons on every continent except Antarctica,
could not overcome the course's snow drifts – not even while utilizing a
customized racing chair. Tan did, however, complete the half-marathon in
5:59:29. His previous attempt at the marathon in 2005 also resulted in a
half marathon finish.
John O'Malley of Woburn, Mass., won the men's division of the Antarctica
Half Marathon with a time of 2:13:10 and Carla Cesaroni of Toronto, Canada
captured the women's half marathon crown in 2:20:20.
Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and scientists were among the few spectators
the pristine course . The double out-and-back course also wound through
Uruguayan, Chilean and Chinese research bases.
The race is organized by Marathon Tours and Travel of Boston, Mass. For
more information and full results, please visit