Korean wins 2008 North Pole Marathon
Byeung Sik Ahn (Korea) won the 2008 North Pole Marathon which took place at 04:30 GMT on 1st April. The winner of the women's title was Cathrine Due of Denmark. Constant daylight and -29C temperatures greeted competitors at the top of the world.
The men's race was a close event over the initial stages before Ahn's persistent pressure on the frozen ice floes finally began to reap dividends. He developed a widening gap over his opponents during the second half of the race and crossed the line in a winning time of 4:02:37. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Ignas Staskevicius overhauled Charles Sanders of Great Britain for second position. Ahn will receive a special Kobold expedition watch for being the outright winner.
Cathrine Due and Margit Andersen, the two Danes in the women's event, battled thoughout. However, Due proved the stronger in the latter stages to take the women's title in a new record time. Kirsty Devonport of Great Britain was third.
Unfortunately, unusual logistical delays at the Pole this season impacted the race field. There was a five-day wait due to delays in establishing the North Pole camp and this led to two competitors having to withdraw before the race began. Furthermore, an effective cut-off time of seven-and-a-half hours was forced upon competitors in order for them to make a return flight to Norway. The original cut-off was anticipated to be a bit longer (see Note below).
Nevertheless, all participants stood at 90 Degrees North, the precise Geographic North Pole. In addition, the few remaining competitors who were agonisingly close to completing the 26.2-mile distance have been invited to attend for free next year.
Next year is the Centenary of Man reaching the Pole. To register for the race, which is now expected to occur in early April 2009, see www.npmarathon.com.
The North Pole Marathon is contained in Guinness World Records as the northernmost marathon on earth. It is also a member of the Association of International Marathons & Distance Races.
NOTES FOR FUTURE COMPETITORS
The 2008 North Pole Marathon incurred the first ever delay for the race due to the delayed construction of the North Pole camp by the Russian polar logistics company. Although competitors are clearly warned in advance of the possibility of delays in the Arctic, and the need to be flexible with travel arrangements, two of the competitors were unfortunately not flexible enough to wait out a several day delay. Please note, it is important to be time flexible when travelling to the Pole and to have flexible international flight tickets.
The 2008 marathon competitors were originally scheduled to fly to the Polar camp on 25th March and run the marathon on 26th March. Due to the delay in constructing the camp and runway, the Russian logistics company could not fly the group until the evening of 31st March at the earliest. The group requested to travel to the Pole on that date and attempt to return to the departure point (Spitsbergen, Norway) to make international flights home on the afternoon of 1st April. By proceeding in this manner, it was anticipated the marathon would require an 8-10 hour cut-off. Unfortunately, the time gap narrowed a little further on location and some competitors underestimated the demands of the event and cold, requiring more frequent rest than they might have expected. The result was that a few competitors could not complete the race fully in the time period allowed. As a result, in future the race will be conducted only when the camp is fully constructed and there is a minimum 20-hour period to conduct the event.
Nevertheless, those who didn't get to finish the race because of the cut-off were given the opportunity to compete again the following year at no cost. Their international flights were also paid by the race organisers even though there was no obligation to offer a free trip at all.