An 84-year-old Canadian man who has been running marathons for over half a century can now check one of the planet’s most gruelling races off his list.
On Friday, Roy Jorgen Svenningsen of Edmonton became the oldest person ever to cross the finish line at the Antarctic Ice Marathon.
Dressed in ski goggles, mittens and a lightweight running parka, Svenningsen spent 11 hours and 41 minutes running atop the Union Glacier route. He finished the race with a Canadian flag in hand as fellow participants cheered him on.
Race director Richard Donovan lauded the Canadian man’s record-breaking feat.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and one to inspire generations of athletes,” Donovan said in a statement.
Svenningsen, a retired oil executive, is now one major step closer to completing his personal goal of running a marathon on every continent. He has already finished races in Venice, Munich and Lagos. His first-ever race was in Calgary back in 1964.
The Antarctic Ice Marathon is the planet’s southernmost race and is considered one of the toughest. For an entry fee of $24,800, participants are flown to and from Antarctica via Chile’s southernmost airport, fed and lodged in tented accommodations, and provided professional photos of their once-in-a-lifetime run.
The winner of this year’s race was William Hafferty of the U.S., who set an event record time of 3 hours, 34 minutes and 12 seconds. However, winning times dramatically differ from year to year based on weather conditions.
Temperatures at Union Glacier hover around -9 C this time of year. That’s much warmer than the South Pole, about 1,100 kilometres away, where the temperature Monday morning was a brisk -26 C.
The Antarctic Ice Marathon is one of two races on the ice-crusted continent. The other is the Antarctica Intercontinental Marathon, set to take place in February.