Roy Jorgen Svenningsen is one of those people who believes it’s only cold if you’re standing still. Perhaps that’s how the 84-year-old Canadian became the oldest person to run a marathon in Antarctica on Friday when he crossed the finish line of the Antarctic Ice Marathon in 11 hours, 41 minutes and 58 seconds.
Svenningsen, a retired oil executive, suited up in multiple layers, including two pairs of socks, to take on 26.2 miles and -15C temperatures just 600 miles from the South Pole.
“At one point, I thought, I don’t think I’m going to do this all the way,” he told CTVNews.ca after the race. “I wanted to finish it, and that was it.”
To power himself through two laps around the Union Glacier exploration camp, he drank soup along the way and had a “I better get it done” attitude.
After all, he paid the southernmost marathon in the world’s enormous entry fee (about $19,000) to be flown to the race, fed and put up in a tent.
He celebrated one of the most memorable races of his running career with a long hot shower and a nap.
It was perfect after training for a year in his hometown of Edmonton. He said that even Canada’s weather couldn’t prepare him fully for Antarctica.
“In Edmonton, we had a very mild winter,” Svenningsen said. “We had just a little bit of snow. It wasn’t anything comparable to the temperature or the snow that they have here.”
His personal goal is to run a marathon on all seven continents. Now Australia and South America are the last two on his list.
Svenningsen began running in 1964, and has more than 50 marathons under his belt, including his fastest, a 2 hour, 38-minute finish in Helsinki, Finland.
The winner of this year’s Antarctic Ice Marathon was William Hafferty, an American, who finished in 3 hours, 34 minutes and 12 seconds.