What you need to know to run a marathon at the North Pole

Race participants take a AN-74TK-100 (Antonov) jet to get to the North Pole.

Updated (12:30pm EST): In New York today, it's forecast to be nearly 80 degrees; but it's about 60 degrees below zero, counting wind chill, at the North Pole. That's where 48 people today ran the 11th annual North Pole Marathon. The entry fee of $15,000 is only the start of the cost. But there's no shortage or willing payers, including sponsors.

Pushpa Chandra ran and won the women's North Pole marathon in 2009 at the age of 50.

"It felt like my body was burning, even through all those layers," says Chandra.
 
This is no small logistical feat -- it is the North Pole. You're running on floating ice, you have to charter a plane, you need expensive gear.  
 
"They say it's the closest thing to going to space in terms of the cost," says Chandra. "For me, North Pole was probably close to $15,000*."
 
Chandra got $5,000 in sponsorship from clothing companies The North Face and Canada Goose.

Mark Sullivan, president of Formula4 Media and an expert on competitive running, says these kinds of ultra races are growing in popularity, and sponsoring people like Chandra is cheap.
 
"They sell 30 jackets and they break even on this," says Sullivan. "They're buying the stock low right now cause it's such a hot growth category."
 
Plus if your clothing line can survive the North Pole that's some serious cred. So if you are looking to join the race, here's what you need to know.

It'll cost you just over $15,000 to be part of the race, but that includes:

  • Return flights from Svalbard (Norway) to the North Pole camp
  • Accommodation while at the Pole
  • Entry to the official North Pole Marathon
  • Helicopter flights in the polar region
  • The opportunity to stand at the exact Geographic North Pole
  • T-shirts, medals, certificates and souvenirs
  • Professional photography of the race (personal use)
  • Professional video of the race (personal use)
  • Medical support during the trip

The race is a way to be part of the "Marathon Grand Slam Club":

The Marathon Grand Slam Club is includes runners who have completed a marathon (26.2 miles) or longer distance on each of the seven continents and on the Arctic Ocean in the North Pole Marathon.

 In case you were worried, it's a carbon-free race:

The 2013 UVU North Pole Marathon has been awarded official "Carbon Free"' status from CarbonFund.org.

You'll need to be bundled up appropriately:

  • One pair of thick woollen socks
  • One pair of warm winter boots suitable for walking in snow / ice conditions
  • One good down jacket with hood 
  • One set of long thermal underwear pants
  • One pair of fleece pants
  • One pair of windproof pants
  • One thermal layer for torso
  • One warm fleece top
  • One wool hat (with toque over ears)
  • Pair of sunglasses

 Over 20 countries are participating:

The following countries will be represented in the event: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Pakistan, Switzerland and the U.S. Plus a member of the advance Russian logistics team also takes part each year.

You should train in freezers:

North Pole Marathon


*CORRECTION: The original version of this story misstated the cost of the polar marathon. Pushpa Chandra's costs were $15,000 to run the race. The text has been corrected.

 

 

 

About the author

Sabri Ben-Achour is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the New York City bureau. He covers Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related.

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