Running a Marathon at the North Pole

On April 7, 2007 I’m going to run the North Pole Marathon.  I’ve increased my marathon in every state goal to include the Marathon Grand Slam Club which is a marathon on every continent and on the Arctic Ocean in the North Pole Marathon.  I’m super excited – in my “you only get one shot at this life thing” philosophy, this is a trip.

Tom Heinrichs, the Associate Director of the GINA Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the instigator of this madness.  I met Tom last year on my trip to Fairbanks to talk about venture capital and entrepreneurship.  He’s been a regular reader of my blog and we’ve corresponded by email over the past year about a variety of things.  A week ago Tom asked me if I was interested in having the University of Alaska Fairbanks send me to the North Pole to run this marathon as part of International Polar Year.  After doing a little research, I determined that IPY is a huge deal in research for the issues surrounding the Earth’s climate and – given all the focus on global warming (scientific, political, entrepreneurial, and otherwise) – it’d be fun to dig into, learn about, and participate in the real research side of things.  In addition to UAF, a number of research groups in Boulder are going to be involved in IPY, which makes it all the more exciting and relevant for me. Today, Tom sent me a note saying that UAF has approved doing this and I said I “game on.”

I get to exercise three parts of me with this experience.  The physical is obvious – this is not a trivial marathon.  However, I’m a good cold weather runner and I like running in / on snow.  The intellectual is – in some ways – even more powerful.  I’ve been looking for an intellectual connection to global climate issues – beyond the mainstream global warming rhetoric.  While I’ve been impacted by a lot of what I’ve read, I’m still struggling with the lack of critical thinking in many aspects of the discussion – both regarding the problem, but more importantly – the proposed solutions.  International Polar Year has an extensive reach, over several years, which gives me a lot of different ways to exercise my brain and engage in these topics in non-mainstream ways.  Finally, the experiential part – especially as I sit here typing in Homer, Alaska – cannot be denied.

I’ll be talking a lot more about this over the next nine months, including what I’m learning through my involvement with International Polar Year.  We’re starting to line up sponsors – while UAF is making this happen – we plan to have a variety of interesting people and companies involved.  Of course, I’ll be blogging regularly about the experience (and maybe even doing a podcast or two.)  If you want to be involved – in any way – drop me an email.

  • Wow, sounds like you’ve got a lot of running ahead of you! That’s a great goal, and I like the global warming aspect. Good luck and have fun, and do be careful running on the highway from Anchor Point on Friday.

  • Martha

    Way to go Brad!! This sounds like a wonderful project – personally for you, and definitely on a more global level.

  • Fred, this is brilliant. I actually envy you! Have you heard about the Marathon Des Sables in Morocco a 7 day, 270 km race, on foot, carrying your own gear and food, sleeping under tents. I attempted it two years ago with no training, of course failed; learned my lesson and started my great relationship with running. Once I get the MDS out of the way (and out of my mind once I complete it!) I am thinking about the North Pole…
    Good luck with your training! You will have a fantastic time.
    I am wondering if you selected snowshoes or came up with recommendations you would not mind sharing?
    Also let me know how one can get involved with your adventure.


  • mickslam


    My way of stating it is: You live exactly one time.

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