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.
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.
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