Marine to run the Antarctica Marathon, raises almost $40K for Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund

Marine Lt. Col. Bill Conner runs on top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii to train for the Antarctica Marathon."I was hoping for much more snow but Mother Nature obviously does not have my flight schedule to the Big Island."

Marine Lt. Col. Bill Conner runs on top of Mauna Kea on the “Big Island” of Hawaii to train for the Antarctica Marathon on March 9. “I was hoping for much more snow, but Mother Nature obviously does not have my flight schedule to the Big Island,” he wrote in an email to supporters.

Today, if everything goes as planned, Marine Lt. Col. Bill Conner will embark on the last leg of his long journey to the starting line of the Antarctica Marathon.

He started his trip 12 months ago.

Conner, based in Oahu, Hawaii, was en route to the airport when he was notified by race officials that the 2013 trip would have to be postponed. The ship that was to take Conner and the other marathon participants from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Antarctica for the March race had been damaged by an iceberg.

Conner couldn’t change his plans to make the new trip dates but was able to defer his entry to this year. Enough runners clamor to enter the small event that officials already are confirming runners for 2017.

Related: Using brawn to raise bucks: Tips from troops who turn extreme endurance feats into charity fundraisers

Today Conner will board a ship to make the three-day voyage from Argentina to King George Island, Antarctica. At 9 a.m. the following day, March 9, Conner and 184 other runners will toe a snowy — or muddy — line to run half and full marathons.

Some are racing so they can check Antarctica off their seven-continent marathon bucket list. Conner is racing to raise money and awareness for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial support for wounded service members and their families.

Conner’s initial goal was to raise $17,750 for the fund, but after surpassing that number he’s revised his goal to $53,250 (three times his initial goal) and at least 239 donors — “In honor of the 239 years the USMC has been serving this great nation,” he writes on his fundraising page for the event.

So far he’s raised $37,715 with 227 donors.

Training in Hawaii for a polar event poses its own unique issues.

“Training for the Antarctica Marathon while in Hawaii was certainly a challenge,” Conner wrote from Buenos Aires. “However, I did get several training sessions in on top of Mauna Kea this year. Mostly it gave me an opportunity [test] some of the clothes I plan to wear.”

How cold will it be?

“Race-day temperatures can range from 15 to 34 F with wind gusts that can easily reach 40 mph,” officials say on the event website.

But Conner isn’t fazed.

“The climate will be extreme,” he wrote last year on his Semper Fi Fund fundraising page, “but like all good Marines I will adapt and overcome.”

Check back for updates on the Antarctica Marathon.

To donate, visit Conner’s Semper Fi Fund fundrasing page here, and for more information on the Semper Fi Fund, go to www.semperfifund.org.

And want more stories of service members going the extra mile? Check out Marine Sgt. Tyler ChittickMarine Staff Sgt. Derek DowellMarine Capt. Mosi Smith and Marine Sgt. Enrique Treviño.

Are you or one of your buddies doing anything physically extreme for a good cause? Let us know at pt365@militarytimes.com.


Sara Davidson

Sara Davidson is an ultrarunner and contributor to PT365. She's run 7 marathons and 32 ultramarathons -- including her first 100-miler. This fall she is training for the Marine Corps Marathon using our PT365 Run Plan. Reach her at sdavidson@gannett.com .