The Coolest Race on Earth
Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon
By John Hanc
(Chicago Review Press, Hardcover, 9781556527388, 216pp.)
Publication Date: January 2009
List Price: $22.95*
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What would induce hundreds of people from all over the world to spend thousands of dollars each and two weeks of their lives just to run a marathon in Antarctica? Especially one with a reputation as the toughest marathon on Earth?
John Hanc may have the answer. When he turned 50 he gave himself the birthday present to end all others--a trip to the end of the Earth to run his most unforgettable race.
The Coolest Race on Earth is both Hanc’s story and the story of the Antarctica Marathon, first held in 1995 and now an annual event that sells out years in advance. It’s full of humor, adventure, and inspiring characters--including a wheelchair-bound competitor, three record-breaking grandmothers, and an ex-Marine who described the race as the hardest thing I ever did in my life, next to Vietnam.”
Muddy, cold, hilly, the race is by all accounts horrible--up and down a melting glacier twice, past curious penguins and hostile skuas, and finally to a bleak finish line. Even the best runners take longer to run the Antarctica Marathon than any other.
Yet the allure of marathon running combined with the fascinating reputation of the Last Continent has persuaded runners to brave a trip across the world’s most turbulent body of water, the Drake Passage, to a land of extinct volcanoes and craggy mountain peaks, lost explorers and isolated scientists, penguin rookeries and whale sightings, all for a chance to run those crazy 26.2 miles. The Coolest Race on Earth brings the world’s most difficult marathon to life in a book that’s not only a ripping read, but also a deeply funny meditation on what makes people run.