Runner goes from South to North Pole

Runner goes from South to North Pole

Published Jan. 19, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

After surviving minus 40F (minus 40C) cold, blizzards, polar bears and life-limiting crevasses -- and running an astonishing 130,500 miles (21,000km) -- the Australian ultra-marathon runner Pat Farmer is claiming yet another endurance record.

The 49-year-old former federal lawmaker Thursday touched the South Pole after setting out from the North Pole in April.

Along the way there have been snakes, crocodiles, a runaway truck that almost wiped him out and an encounter with armed militia. But it's not over yet.

Farmer has averaged a staggering 50 miles (80km) a day with virtually no respite, and even in his 745-mile (1,200km) leg to the South Pole he was covering up to 44 miles (70km) a day.


If the running wasn't torturous enough, his trek across Antarctica from Union Glacier was even more remarkable for the clothing he had to wear.

Gone were his running shoes, in their place boots. He wore two pairs of socks, full-length thermal underwear with pants on top, as well as a jumper. Then came a bib-and-brace windsuit, a down jacket, a beanie and woollen hat to cover his ears.

"Plus a set of goggles and two sets of gloves," he told The Australian from his South Pole base. "It's like trying to run in a gorilla outfit in a City to Surf [fun run] event."

Farmer is running to help raise money for the Red Cross and planted a flag at the pole to mark his achievement.

He said the run from Union Glacier took him 20 days -- carving five days off the existing record. He has smashed other records along the way. The Red Cross is describing it as the greatest run in history, taking in Canada, the US, Mexico, Central and South America.

The core aim is to run all the way from the North Pole to the South Pole. To achieve that final ambition he must now run 1,553 miles (2,500km) from Puerto Montt in Chile to Argentina's Tierra del Fuego. The decision to break up the run was made because of the extreme polar conditions, which required a window of opportunity to make the adventure possible. Now he must head to Chile.