Race Website <---> Race Results
My bib number was 22.
Race Photos by Mike King
A number of years ago I decided there was no good reason to delay checking items off my bucket list. I had read about the North Pole Marathon in an adventure travel book some years prior and, at the time, thought it might be an interesting adventure to try one day. With a couple of other bucket list items successfully checked off, I was looking around for my next adventure and I recalled the North Pole Marathon. The timing was perfect and the idea of combining multiple Bucket List items into one outstanding trip was too good to pass up.
Since I have never been a runner and I don't mind pushing myself outside my comfort zone, I decided to sign up. I believed it would help me grow as a person. I figured that if I never run another marathon at least I would have done an epic one; and, I would have a story to tell.
I signed up for the race in June 2012. At the time, it seemed like such a long way away. As I learned more about the rigors of what is physically required to run a marathon, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Most participants were running their 100th race, or completing their Grand Slam, or supporting a charity. Many of my friends with whom I shared my plan, thought I was especially mental to make my first race attempt be this particular race. I was unfazed and undeterred by such comments. I was doing it and that is all there was to it.
I began running in the summer. I would go for runs but no matter how much I stretched before hand I could never manage more than about five miles. My hips would start aching and force me to turn around. I knew something was not right, but I didn't know how to correct the problem. As fall approached the time available to train was dwindling. In passing one day I mentioned to a good friend the hip pain I was experiencing and how I thought maybe a chiropractor would help. She nixed this idea and instead put me in contact with a Yoga instructor she knew. After a brief phone conversation with this instructor I was pointed toward a book about living pain free through simple stretching to correct alignment issues. Within a week I was running farther and my every day hip pains were subsiding.
Book: Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain
My flight itinerary went like this:
Seattle (SEA) --> Reykjavik (KEF) --> Oslo (OSL) --> Tromsø (TOS) --> Longyearbyen (LYR) --> Ice Camp Barneo
After a seemingly endless series of flights, I arrived in Longyearbyen, Svalbard on Sunday, April 7th. Thus began the period of the trip where the race organizers took over. I began meeting fellow race participants and started to get a feel for cold weather. Svalbard was a balmy -16C. We transferred to the Radisson Blu Hotel then had a few hours to ourselves before our race briefing that evening. The briefing covered what to expect over the next 48-72 hours. We heard about cold, we heard about damn cold, and we heard about bitter damn cold. We needed to bring our bags to the briefing room since they would be weighed and loaded on the plane that evening.
The following morning I woke early and laid in bed with thoughts and anticipation of the events to come. We had little to do on Monday but wait for our plane to depart. I was scheduled on the second flight, which would not leave until 4pm. Many of us sat around in the hotel sharing stories until the bus arrived to transport us to the airport. We boarded the chariot that would fly us to Ice Camp Barneo, a Russian Antonov 74. Upon boarding, we soon realized that none of the typical airplane safety briefings or usual accommodations would be provided. This was half cargo plane, half passenger plane. You knew it was time to go when they closed the door and the plane began to move. During the 2.5hour flight most of us were standing, chatting, and cheerful about what was to come. The closer we got to our destination, the more solemn people became. Again, there was no announcement that we were beginning our decent; just the throttle back of the engines and a sudden downward angle to signal you had better take your seat. We arrived at Ice Camp Barneo around 7pm Monday evening.