This is a really unique event, and for the first time, Ireland was represented in this amazing race.
Nicole Buckler reports.
In the company of 128 runners from 29 countries, two Irish women are the first women ever to complete the Polar Circle Marathon held in Greenland. And the good news is that the race is held every year, so if you are game, then you can do this too!
So where is the hard-core event held? In Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, on the Polar ice-cap. It is here you will find 600 hardy residents, a few arctic foxes and temperatures of -20C.
Ruth Whelan and Sarah Robson, from Dublin, were amongst 128 runners from 29 countries who braved sub-zero temperatures and frozen hilly terrain to run in the last Polar Circle Marathon. Not only did they complete the tough 42km challenge, but Sarah was the second female to finish, beating many other seasoned male and female runners, whilst Ruth, who’d never even run a marathon before, finished in 6 hours 20mins, ahead of other experienced runners.
The unique arctic race is run on the vast ice sheet. Runners experience breathtaking polar landscapes in this challenging running event. The Polar Circle Marathon is often referred to as the “coolest marathon on earth.” The endless ice and arctic tundra of this vast country make up the backdrop of this unusual race. Runners pass glacier tongues, moraine landscapes and the soundless, arctic desert.
You are intrigued, aren’t you? And why not? Competing in this race is a rare opportunity to visit one of the most remote corners of the world combined with a challenging running event. A part of the route takes place on the ice cap itself, but the main part of the course is run on the snow-covered road that connects the ice sheet with the small township of Kangerlussuaq. This is all just north of the Polar Circle.
The two Irish women met over 2 years ago at SF Fitness Camps, where Ruth is now a trainer. Sarah, a mother of three and former chef at Ely Wine Bar in Dublin, decided to swap her adrenaline-pumped job for running marathons, and is now planning to move onto ultra marathon running.
Ruth, who lost over 3 stone and 4 dress sizes in the past 2 years with SF Fitness Camps, has realised her dream to run a marathon before turning 30. She has now quit her full time job in a bank to work as a fitness trainer.
The inspiring women say they were fully aware of the harsh conditions they’d face but that they wholeheartedly trusted their training. They didn’t know they’d be the first two Irish women to run the Polar Circle marathon when they registered. And along the way, they’ve trained hard and even managed to raise over €4300 for Crumlin Children’s hospital.
“Being in Greenland was such a magical experience, the scenery was amazing and so were the people” says Ruth. “The actual run was amazing, the ice cap, the views, the silence, everything was just out of this world! There was one part where I struggled. But I had to have a little chat with myself and told myself to get to the finish line!”
Crossing the finish line was an extremely surreal experience. “I had to look behind me and make sure it did say finish above and it took a few minutes for it to sink that I’d actually done it! And now I can say I’m not only a marathon runner but I’m an Arctic runner.”
This is really something else.
The next Polar Circle Challenge is being held on the 27th and 28th of October, 2018. We will if you will!