Local man Lee Thomas, 32 from Poole, has set a world record by running a half marathon in Antarctica in the fastest time.
Lee, who is working in the Antarctic for ten weeks with TXI and KSAT, ran the Polar Night Run held in Tromso this month, which saw 1,800 people running on blue ice. To be able to run on the ice, Lee and the other runners had to screw their trainers into a studded base. For Lee, this was the first time he had ever competed in a half marathon, let alone on ice!
Alongside Lee was friend Ken Pedersen. Both had arrived two days prior to the race, and therefore only had a few days to train. Other runners in the marathon had been training in the icy and cold conditions, with altitude of 1,200 metres, for a lot longer.
Lee said, “I started the race by pacing myself against the other runners and after about 5k broke away from the group. I planned to get as far ahead as possible, but never did I imagine I would win and beat a record. I would have just been happy to take part, finish the race and experience running in very different conditions than we have at home!”
The route started at the Norwegian Troll Research Station and onto an ice runway, which was about 8K, and had to be run around. Lee was about two minutes ahead at this point but by the time he came back around the runway his legs felt like they were going to cramp up.
Lee said, “At this point, I just started thinking about two friends of mine that I had played hundreds of football games with back home – Shane Stanley and Matthew Jones. Sadly, both have passed and were very good friends of mine and loved by the local Poole community. These guys would never run out of steam when playing footie, unlike the rest of us, so I asked them for help as I was running the race. I got emotional just thinking about them but remembering that these guys never gave up, pushed me through until I crossed the finish line.”
Lee successfully won the half marathon by 7.48 seconds against another eight competitors in his category and set the course record. He said: “I won because of Shane and Matty so I dedicate the victory and the record to these two champions.”