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  1. ITV Report

Runners compete in North Pole Marathon

Runners compete in North Pole Marathon. Photo: RTV

With the temperature reaching -30C, 47 competitors from 20 countries pitted themselves against the elements in the North Pole in a race described as the world's coolest marathon.

Conditions for the race were near perfect with low winds and a light dusting of snow.

Mike Wardian led the race from the start and won it in a time of 4 hours 7 minutes and 40 seconds. Afterwards, the American Ultra runner described it as the toughest race he had ever experienced.

It feels great man: it's the hardest race I have done in a while, definitely the hardest marathon.I am unbelievably happy to be done.

Second place went to British runner Luke Wigman who finished the race 56:55 behind Wardian. Brit Shona Thomson also finished well claiming third place in the women's race.

Almost all the runners completed the course. Credit: RTV

Anne-Marie Flammersfeld won the women's event in a time of 4:52.45, finishing second overall and setting an all-time record for the women's event.

My face is frozen a bit; I barely can feel my hands. That was bothering me a little during the race.

I obviously could not change my clothes, so everything is kind of frozen all around me. Even my eyelashes froze, so I couldn't really see anything in between. But now it feels just great and I am so happy I made it.

The race, over the standard distance 42.2km marathon, attracts a range of runners from military personnel to vastly experienced marathon and ultramarathon runners to charity runners and even those making their marathon debut at the top of the world. Competitors must negotiate soft snow in addition to the sub-zero temperatures.

Mainly for safety reasons the course itself is laid out around the Russian camp where markers were positioned in the snow and ice. Competitors have to complete 12 laps of the course but are able to retreat into a refreshment mess tent to regain body warmth and hydrate themselves with hot drinks and snacks. Course marshals and time keepers scrutinize the race while polar bear guards with guns, to frighten off any bears, keep a close watch on proceedings.

A polar bear guard stands watch over the course. Credit: RTV

Hydration is difficult to manage in the excruciating cold. Sweating is one of the biggest issues for the runners to manage. Each runner has to have their skin fully protected. Clothing included a full balaclava, goggles, gloves and mittens, long johns, waterproof running pants and several layers of thermal clothing under a shell.

Contestants must negotiate energy sapping soft snow and small ice pressure ridges to complete the race.

This year the majority of competitors finished the race, although some took over 10 hours to do so.

Men's Results

  • Mike Wardian (United States) 4:07:40
  • Luke Wigman (Britain) 5:03.55
  • Patrick Cande (Tahiti) 5:46.19

Women's Results

  • Anne-Marie Flammersfeld (Germany) 4:52.45
  • Anna Wester (Netherlands) 7:57.50
  • Shona Thomson (Britain) 9:09.22