Marine Corps Lt. Col. Bill Conner was on his way to catch a South American flight when he got news the Antarctic Marathon — his destination — had been delayed.
The ship that was to take Conner and the other marathon participants from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Antarctica for the March 7 race had been damaged by an iceberg. Marathon Tours officials proposed a revised itinerary for late March, but Conner wouldn’t be able to change his plans.
“Needless to say, I am more than a little disappointed as I will not be able to reschedule due to my military commitments,” Conner said in an email.
Despite the change in plans, Conner is closing in on $100,000 in his fundraising efforts for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Conner, 39, had planned to run the Antarctic Marathon as his sixth event with the nonprofit — created in 2004 — which provides financial support for wounded service members and their families.
Over the past five years he’s done several events to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund. He finished an Ultraman triathlon in 2009 and a cross-country bike ride in 2011. He also ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007 and 2009 in his boots and utilities.
“I know I owe some of you a marathon for your donations,” he wrote in an email to supporters.
Conner is registered for the Honolulu Marathon in December, but he’ll get a chance to leave tracks on Antarctica soon — he’s been confirmed for the 2014 event — and will continue to raise funds through the next year.
So far he’s raised almost $16,000 of his $17,750 event goal.
In total, Conner has raised more than $88,000 for the charity, said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Corey Petersen, community athlete coordinator for the Semper Fi Fund.
“He never ceases to amaze and astound us,” Petersen said. “It’s inspiring and motivating to all when an active-duty member like Lt. Col. Conner takes the time out of his busy training schedule, continues his efforts through a deployment to Afghanistan, and goes one step beyond service to help his military brothers and sisters who have sacrificed so much for their country.”
The race’s year delay has turned into a four-year wait for the Marine, who applied for the the Antarctic event back in 2010.
The event is so popular that race organizers are already confirming entrants for 2017.
But the extra time will give the Oahu, Hawaii-based Marine an extra winter of cold-weather training.
“The climate will be extreme,” Conner wrote on his Semper Fi Fund fundraising page, ”and I will have unique challenges training for the race while stationed in Hawaii, but like all good Marines I will adapt and overcome.”
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