Explore. Educate. Empower.

TrailRunMag 16.05.2024

EXPLORE. EDUCATE. EMPOWER.

THE LONGEST RUN IN ANTARCTICA

ACCORDING TO 2022 STATISTICS FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPORTS COMMISSION, ONLY 32% OF GIRLS AGED 15+ PLAY SPORT AT LEAST ONCE PER WEEK. THAT HURTS…THAT NUMBER REALLY HURTS WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT PROPERLY. SO NOW IS THE TIME TO EMPOWER THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALE ATHLETES TO DEVELOP A LOVE OF SPORT AND EXPERIENCE THE IMPORTANT HEALTH AND EDUCATION BENEFITS THROUGHOUT LIFE. MELBOURNE ULTRA RUNNER AND MOTHER DONNA URQUHART IS DOING JUST THAT, AND REVEALS TO EDITOR KATE DZIENIS JUST HOW AND WHY SHE SET A FREAKIN’ INCREDIBLE WORLD RECORD IN THE MOST FRIGID, FROSTY AND FEROCIOUS PART OF THE WORLD – ANTARCTICA.

Written by Kate Dzienis
Photography by Rhys Newsome

On 14 January, 2024 Donna Urquhart from Melbourne, Victoria crossed the finish line in Antarctica and set a new World Record for the longest run in a polar region, running an average of 50km per day over 28 days to reach 1,402km – a first for a female.

Woah, I hear you breathe.

Let’s put that into perspective, shall we? December and January temperatures
in Antarctica are at their warmest, but that doesn’t mean a balmy 28-38°C. In fact, it generally gets up to only 0°C on a good day and the days rapidly get longer until eventually the sun doesn’t set at all. There is every chance it can get down to -60°C though, depending on how far into the continent you travel.

Donna has a strong background in ultras, having started long distance events
back in 2013 with The North Face 50 and then moving on to events like Surf Coast Century 100, Run Larapinta Stage Race and Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour amongst others. For a long time now, she’s had the urge to go on a big adventure; to do something epic, daring and audacious that breaks new ground and takes her out of her comfort zone. She needed, and wanted, to do something that helped her explore her physical and mental limits but never quite knew what that adventure looked like.

“2021 was different. It was during the pandemic and lock down in Melbourne. I was watching a podcast and Eric Phillips, an Australian polar explorer and guide, was talking about his experiences in Antarctica,” she says.

“I was captivated. The hair stood up on the back of my neck, and something deep inside stirred. I wondered, is it possible to run in Antarctica? And if so, how far? How far can we, as humans, run in the polar region?

Read More

PHOTOGRAPHY BY RHYS NEWSOME