On Saturday 8 April, Irish novelist Michael Collins led home a record 54-person international race field to win the 2006 North Pole Marathon.
The certified 26.2-mile (42km) event, dubbed the world’s coolest marathon, took place at a temporary Russian North Pole camp in the high Arctic Ocean at the Geographic North Pole. Despite extremely challenging underfoot conditions, comprising soft snow and hillocks of ice, as well as temperatures that dipped to –23C, all fifty-four participants successfully completed the event.
In the men’s division, Collins and Carsten Kolle (Germany) forced the pace at the outset, crunching through the hushed indomitable surroundings and matching each other stride for stride over the initial 10km. A polar bear was spotted but fortunately it was one of the other competitors donning a costume for 2km. Despite the scare, Collins was relentless in his efforts and went on to win by a comfortable margin in a time of 4.28.35 on the toughest ever terrain for the race.
Meanwhile, in a perfectly judged effort, Marcel Kasumovich (Canada) overhauled the German for second place with France’s Philippe Moreau and Herve Taquet finishing together in 4th position.
The women’s race saw Alison Hamlett (England) set a new world record for the event, finishing ahead of 2006 Antarctic Ice Marathon winner, Wendy MacKinnon (Scotland), with Ireland’s Caitriona Strain in third place. Hamlett’s time of 5.52.56 was good enough for sixth place overall.
This amazing race – operated at the top of the world and run on the ice floes that overlay 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean - attracts a diverse range of participants each year. While some were attempting to join the Marathon Grand Slam club by running a marathon on all seven continents and the North Pole, others were making their marathon debut. Hundreds of thousands of euro were also raised for various charities through participants’ heroic efforts in completing the race.
To find out more about the North Pole marathon, or to register for next year’s event, log on to www.npmarathon.com. Places are limited due to aircraft capacity constraints.
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