Set for ice challenge

2016-11-16 06:01
Stephan and Eleanor Pienaar at their sixth marathon in Rio last year, for the Seven Continents Challenge. PHOTOS: supplied

Stephan and Eleanor Pienaar at their sixth marathon in Rio last year, for the Seven Continents Challenge. PHOTOS: supplied

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A PIETERMARITZBURG couple, who have completed six marathons on six continents, will be running their seventh at the end of this month, in Antarctica.

Having completed the six marathons in six years, Eleanor and Stephen­ Pienaar will take on their biggest challenge yet by running their first marathon on ice in sub-zero temperatures.

Considered one of the toughest marathons in the world, the course winds through the interior of Antarctic - over 42,2km of snow and ice.

Runners must brave an average windchill temperature of -20°C, and the possibility of contending with strong downslope winds.

Eleanor said their sixth marathon had been the Rio de Janeiro Marathon last year.

She said they had first decided to run the seven races on the seven continents after running the London Marathon with her family as part of her father’s 60th birthday celebrations.

From there, they had participated in the New York Marathon, the Sydney Marathon and the Great Wall Marathon.

“All the marathons have been extremely special as they are all so different,” she said.

The Antarctic Marathon will definitely be the toughest because of the harsh conditions.

“The temperatures are expected to be anywhere between -10°C and -30°C and it will be very windy.

“It will be the first time we are running on ice and we have been told to train on the beach as running in snow is said to be a lot like running in sand.”

She said they had recently been able to train in an industrial freezer with a temperature of -24°C.

“During the race, we have been told to wear about three layers of clothing at all times, and to not have any skin exposed at all.

“We are nervous, but also very excited. We never dreamed we would reach our seven on seven.”

Eleanor said they were the only South African couple to have done the seven on seven as far as she knew.

“It is all so exciting, especially since the Antarctic Ice Marathon is very unknown.”

Stephen said he felt “very privileged and excited” that he was able to run the race, especially since he was running with his wife.

“I am happy that we can do this together and that we are still healthy enough to participate in these marathons.”

The couple will be leaving for Antarctica­ on 18 November, embarking on a three-day-journey to reach their destination.

The race will take place on 24 November with Eleanor and Stephen excited and ready to take on the challenge.

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