Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 34

they had. “Soon I found myself with just the American youngster, William Hafferty, and he led most of the way, while I sat just behind him. By lap three he was getting a bit too strong for me and I had to let him go, but I saw I was comfortably clear of the next runner, so I just maintained my pace to come home second.” The runners were provided with two water stations on the 10.5km loop, one at the start point and one at the 5km halfway mark of the loop, with numbered paper cups for each runner. “You have to stop and find your numbered cup in order to take warm water from an urn, and they also had Coke, fruit and cookies for us. We were asked to try not spill any Coke on the ice, as it needs to be removed to maintain the purity of the environment, and of course, we had to be careful not to spill or splash any water or Coke on our faces, as it would freeze, so we had to stop, fill up, drink carefully, then get going again. It was really dry out there, so I found water every 5km quite long for a marathon, and felt a bit dehydrated,” says Mo. In the end, William took the win in 3:34:12, breaking the course record by 35 seconds, with Mo second in 3:43:12, followed by another American, Mark Leibold, who was third in 3:58:49. And this is where Mo says things were also a bit different to normal races. “They had told us at the briefing that we would go into hypothermia within minutes after finishing if we didn’t get warm. They have all the flags of the competitors at the finish, so I grabbed the SA flag, had a few pics taken, and then I hit the shower. The crew in the camp are only allowed to shower once a week, so we were told we could shower after our run. It was a quick The Men’s top three at prize-giving shower – I had to work quickly, or be left with soap after my bucket ran out, but that water was beautifully warm. Then I could get warm clothing on again.” While the leaders finished in less than four hours, most of the other runners were out there for between five and eight hours, with the longest race time going to two runners, Ludivina Ferrer of the Philippines and 84-year-old Canadian Roy Svenningsen, who finished in 11:41:58 to become the oldest runner to complete a marathon on the continent. Mo says they would come into the mess tent after each lap to get something warm to drink, and the rest of the runners would cheer them on. “There was a fantastic spirit in the group, and we all went out to cheer them in when they finished around midnight, with hugs all round. Everybody gets treated like a winner at this race.” Bit of a Media Frenzy With the race all done and everybody showered, the runners then hung out in their tents or the mess tent, keeping an eye on the notice board listing the weather and flight details of the plane home. “We were briefed to keep checking boarding plans for the next day, as were told we had to be ready to go as soon as the plane arrived. In the meantime, my tent mate said I could use the last 40 seconds of air time on his phone to call my wife.” “She told me they had been following my progress online, as the organisers posted updates on social media after each lap, so not only did my family already know I had finished second, but so did the South African running community. She told me later she was contacted by the media just after my call, and could pass on what I had said! And that was just the first of many media calls or requests. I had never planned to run in Antarctica, and I had never expected to be on the podium of an international marathon, so the media interest back home really took me by surprise!” Looking ahead, Mo says that having heard about the Seven Continents, Grand Slam and World Marathon Tour challenges, he is interested to try them as well someday, but adds he is “not really a bucket list guy.” On the other hand, he does have a goal in mind in the World Marathon Majors, after his running exploits in 2019. You see, he managed sub-three-hour times in all three that he ran, clocking 2:59 in Boston, 2:57 in Chicago and 2:58 in New York, and now he would like to try run sub-threes in London, Berlin and Tokyo to round out his Marathon Majors collection. “When I went sub-three in Boston, I decided it would be cool to run a sub-three in Chicago as well, but due to the late plans to add New York, I had to decide whether to race Chicago and then just survive New York, or use Chicago as a long training run and then race New York, since they were less than a month apart. After I ran 2:57 in Chicago, I was on such a runner’s high because the race went so well, so in spite of still feeling jetlagged from Chicago when I got to New York, I just went for it. I must admit, in NY my legs felt a bit flat in the first, but then muscle memory kicked in and hit my rhythm and pace – and that was also the day after we found a bar in New York to watch SA win the Rugby World Cup at 4am US time!” For more info on the Antarctic Ice Marathon, go to The next edition of the race will take place on 13 December 2020. Also, to find out more about Mo’s coaching services, check out Feeling the minus-24 wind chill factor on the final lap 34 ISSUE 127 FEBRUARY 2020 / Mo finishes second