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    First South, first North
    People Posted by Brendon Grunewald on 06 April 2002
    from the Two Firsts! dept.
    The Irishman, Richard Donovan, who won the South Pole Marathon in January 2002, has followed suit by winning the first ever marathon to the North Pole. His ambition to run seven marathons on seven continents in 1 year seems to be well underway. Read (the) details...
    Related topics:
    [Richard Donovan's Story, Donovan in the news.]

    Irishman on Top of the World

    April 5 2002

    The first ever North Pole marathon occurred today April 5th. The marathon, which was organised by Global Expeditions, was brought forward from April 24th to April 5th at the request of Richard Donovan. Donovan was running at the exact geographic North Pole in windchill temperatures of down to -60 degree Celsius and 60km per hour winds. Richard ran a circular route that began at the exact geographic North Pole. He covered 18.1 miles in 2 hours 28 minutes, half of that running into 60km per hour winds. Worsening weather conditions forced the support helicopter to take off to a short distance away where Richard finished the remaining 8.1 miles in atrocious conditions (including a whiteout) in 1 hour 20 minutes. His overall marathon time was 3 hours 48 minutes.

    Donovan, a 35-year-old Irishman, has now become the first person in history to run a marathon to both the South Pole and the North Pole having only ten weeks ago won the inaugural South Pole Marathon. Donovan had to watch his step as a mere 6 to 12 feet under the drifting ice floes lay 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean water. Running with a rescue rope, whistle and flotation device he was careful to look out for sudden cracks (leads) and pressure ridges that could expose the ocean at any time. His experiences from the South Pole marathon stood to him in this event as he discarded the snowshoes that hindered him previously and this was reflected in a much-improved time.

    Donovan’s South Pole Marathon success on January 22nd was achieved against huge odds for the Irish adventure runner. Only a week before the race, he hyperextended his right knee and required the use of snowshoes to assist in stabilising it. He was given little chance of even completing the event. However, despite intense pain to his hip flexors caused by his unfamiliarity with snowshoes, he finished some 1.5 miles ahead of professional athlete Dean Karnazes of San Francisco, USA. The South Pole race was run at an altitude of 10,000 feet in wind chill temperatures of –50 degrees and Donovan suffered hypothermia, snow blindness and frostbite on the 26.2-mile linear route. After the event, which took nearly nine hours, he required 3-4 litres of IV fluid.

    The Irishman embarked on his trip to the North Pole under a veil of secrecy to avoid an attempt of the ‘prize’ being robbed from him by another solo competitor. He travelled via Svalbard, Norway on March 28th before leaving by jet for the Russian North Pole Base Camp on April 2. Finally, he was transported by helicopter to the geographic pole on the day of the run. Speaking on satellite phone from the North Pole, Donovan paid tribute to Curtis Lieber and Sergei Insarov of Global Expeditions for making his marathon possible. He also gave special thanks to Brent Weigner of Wyoming, USA for his advice and expertise.

    Not content with his Polar victories, Donovan too is attempting to run seven extreme ultramarathons on seven continents in the same calendar year (2002). This would be another world first for Donovan who describes himself as merely an “average runner”. Although the North Pole is not a continent, he decided to add it to his schedule because of the historic significance of the achievement. The Irishman is running the races in aid of starving children in Calcutta and an animal sanctuary in the west of Ireland. More information on his quest can be obtained on the website . Photos and video footage of his North Pole adventure will also be available on the site after Donovan’s return to Ireland.

    Global Expeditions is to run the Second North Pole Marathon in 2003 and have asked Donovan and Weigner to be Race Directors. It promises to be an excellent annual event for those athletes who are looking for something different to achieve. According to Global expeditions, it also offers the opportunity for those who have run a marathon on all seven continents to complete a ‘Grand Slam’ by running at the North Pole also. For more information, see

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    Davis Instruments Weather Club
    December 1998

    Cool Applications: Journeyman Weather Wizard III joins North Pole expedition
    As jolly old St. Nick ascends into the limelight again this holiday season, we, your devoted Weather Club Editorial Staff, thought it key to report first-hand on local, i.e. North Pole, conditions. We sent station after station to sniff out the story this past month only to discover them weeks later sloshing aimlessly around in the dark, polar cap-melting terrain, not a Santa or WeatherLink upload in sight.

    Just as we were about to lose faith, what to our wondering eyes should appear, but one small off-hand response to an innocuous customer survey: the station "performed well on all my North Pole expeditions. It packs small and light."

    Curtis Lieber, Lead Guide for Global Expedition Adventures, Inc., and a physician in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida and the owner of that remark, fleshed out the story at our request: A few years ago a patient of his, Earl Miller of South Carolina, invited him on a hot-air balloon flight over the North Pole. Curtis, oddly enough, accepted.

    April 1997 found Curtis traipsing through the streets of Moscow, chatting with Inuits and mammoth relics in Khatanga, Siberia, joining the Russian National Air Force on a relatively routine mission to establish their annual base camp in the North Pole, and then launching from the base camp in a balloon to gust over the Pole itself. Four balloons launched that year, one American, one British, one Swedish, and one Austrian (piloted by former Mir Cosmonaut, Ivan Trifonov). They were accompanied by 40 parachutists.

    Curtis says explorers have a three month window in which the Pole is both receiving sunlight and is not made unduly hazardous by melting polar ice caps. Even so, a blizzard on the end date of the expedition prevented their return plane from landing for 3 additional days. And when it finally did, says Curtis, they had to shoot flares at the end of the runway and rely heftily on GPS to navigate.

    Nevertheless, the following year found the doctor again at the Pole, but this time he was accompanied by a young journeyman, the wanderlust Weather Wizard III. The errant station, not daunted by the -1 to -40 degree F temperatures, close to 0% humidity, and 40 mile per hour winds, operated on 6 size D batteries and steadfastly logged the mind-blowing data to a WeatherLink. The station performed excellently, reports Curtis, although the anemometer had to be recalibrated almost daily due to the constant floating of the base camp - 12 to 20 miles through the night - which posed a particularly tricky prospect, given the uselessness of magnetic compasses near the Pole. On the up side, by keeping the console inside the heated tent, Curtis thinks the LED display emerged from the Pole without freezing even once!

    Curtis and the Wizard are now 2 of the 0.00004% of the present world's population who have ever visited the North Pole. Curtis says that, while camping out on that "frozen corpse on top of the world," 1500 miles away from any life, he's "never felt so far away from loved ones." Yet, fighting fatigue, dehydration and the disruption of the 24 hour circadian rhythm, Curtis says he never felt more alive.

    The doctor's planning another trip for next April, as well as one to the Amazon later in the year, and is looking for folks who'd like to either go along or help sponsor the trip. Because of the expensive equipment (amazingly, he was never cold!), the North Pole trip costs $8000 per participant. He invites all interested parties to contact him at for more information.

    Thanks for the Santaland report, Curtis, and please keep us informed (especially about any elf sightings)!



    North Pole Marathon Heats Up

    Posted: November 25, 2002

    Courtesy: North Pole Marathon

    Among the latest to commit to the North Pole Marathon 2003 is the legendary US marathon runner, Dick Beardsley. 'The Beards', a former 2.08 marathoner and London Marathon champion, is perhaps best remembered in his homeland for his famous "Duel in the Sun" with Alberto Salazar in the 1982 Boston Marathon. On that occasion, he missed out on victory by a mere two seconds. Now a renowned seminar speaker and TV host, he can still almost effortlessly churn out a sub 3-hour marathon.

    Says Beardsley, "I'm very excited about running a marathon at the North Pole. Who wouldn't be? I'm one that is always looking for a great adventure and I can't think of a greater one than this. To be where very few people have ever been, let alone run a marathon there - it's just going to be an incredible experience and challenge to run at the top of the world!"

    Global Expedition Adventures has also announced that the date of the marathon is to change from the original provisional date of April 9th to a confirmed date of April 17th, 2003. Curtis Lieber, Vice President of Global Expedition Adventures and North Pole Expedition Director, explained that from a logistical standpoint, April 17th makes for an excellent date. "Many others will be travelling to the North Pole at that time to ski, balloon, skydive and undertake other such exciting activities. It will make for a great atmosphere for the marathon runners."

    Brent Weigner, co-race director for the North Pole Marathon, has confirmed that interest in the race is growing strongly, especially from the Europeans. "Not only will athletes be effectively running on water - frozen water - but they'll be undertaking the adventure trip of a lifetime", explains Weigner.

    The organizers have also outlined that the race offers those who have run a marathon on all seven continents the opportunity to complete a 'Grand Slam' by running at the North Pole. The North Pole Marathon also offers opportunities for teams to compete for the North Pole Marathon Cup. This team event is open to club, corporate, country and military organisations. "Any group that wants to put a team of at least three together is welcome to compete for this prestigious title", says Weigner.

    Contact: Curtis Lieber
    Vice President and NP Expedition Director
    Global Expedition Adventures, Inc.
    191 Joy Lane
    Santa Rosa Beach,
    Florida 32459

    Tel (within US): 1-800-770-5961

    International Callers:
    Tel: +850-217-9974
    Fax: +850-267-9588