Galway man sets Antarctic record

Wed, Dec 7, 2011, 00:00

An ultramarathon runner has braved some of the coldest temperatures on the planet to set a new record running 160 km (100 miles) in a day.

Richard Donovan, from Galway, ran through wind-chill of minus 25 degrees, snow and ice on Antarctica for 24 hours 35 minutes and two seconds.

It is the furthest distance anyone has ever covered on foot in a day on the frozen continent.

Donovan suffered only minor injuries in the epic endurance test despite fears of severe frostbite and snow blindness.

“I did feel one of my eyes freeze and I certainly had blurry vision for a short time, but nothing much came of it,” he said.

“I thought I’d have a little snowblindness as my eyes were completely bloodshot at the finish, but nothing developed.

“In fact, my lips and nose appear to be the only body parts showing the physical impact of the cold - they are swollen, scabbed and weather beaten, but will heal in a few days.”

Speaking from the Chilean capital Santiago en route home, Donovan said the real pains did not kick in until 136km (85 miles) into the race.

“I actually felt very good until then when accumulated fatigue and a sore hip and knee bothered me, but that was to be expected,” he said.

“I dragged my injured leg around over the remaining distance and felt remarkably well at the end of it.”

Two other competitors in the Antarctic challenge were put on intravenous drips after the race.

Donovan, who has run the length of Ireland in just over five days, dedicated his historic run last weekend to his brother Denis who died suddenly last year.

The polar running expert, who organises both the North Pole and Antarctic Ice Marathons, was the first person in history to run 26 miles at both poles in 2002.

Two years ago, he ran seven marathons on seven continents in a world record five days 10 hours and eight minutes.