This article was originally published on the Lilyroo Fund website.
Simon proudly represented the Lilyroo Fund, raising money with friends, family and colleagues sponsoring him for each per kilometre to celebrate the short but perfect life of Kristie and Pete Lockyer’s daughter Lily. The charity gives hope to premature babies by supporting the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, and raising awareness of premature birth.
Finishing 13th in a time of 7hrs 47mins and 32 secs, and raising a total of $1,684.12 pushing the Lilyroo Fund ever closer to its goal of raising $200,000! What an amazing effort.
Competitors first rendezvous in Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen (part of the Svalbard archipelago) before flying to the North Pole for the race itself. Getting to the pole proved to be an adventure in itself when the original plane (a AN-74TK-100 (Antonov) jet) scheduled to transport the runners landed too heavily at the pole on a previous flight damaging its landing gear. This left Simon and his co-runners waiting an extra few days in Longyearbyen for another plane to arrive from Russia.
The race takes place at the start of the Midnight Season, where the sun remains visible throughout the night. Despite the 24 hour sunlight, temperatures on race day were a blistering cold -41 degrees – 70 degrees colder than than the 30+ degrees temperature Simon is used to at home in Singapore. At -41 degrees any sweat freezes instantly, so sweating as little as possible is key. Simon used the high temperature and humidity of Singapore to his advantage training his body to sweat less: he would run to and from work each weekday (a daily total of 15 km), and then up to 6 hours in the middle of the night on the weekend.
The race consisted of 10 laps of 4.2 km over extremely rough terrain:
“We were running on an ice sheet 3-4 metres deep. During the race the ice sheet moved 7km! The terrain was extremely rough under foot and extremely bumpy; it felt like I was running on sugar/sand. I lost count of the number of times I fell over. Even the winner, a professional triathlete from Czechoslovakia, fell over 15 times!” Simon said.
“At the end of each lap we ran into an Aid tent where we could warm up, grab a cup of tea, and prepare for the next lap! I run a standard marathon in about 4 hours, but the terrain and brutal conditions meant I was out running for almost double that. As the day progressed the wind really picked up and the temperature dropped, so I was extremely glad to finish when I did. Despite the tough conditions, it was an incredible experience, and I definitely want to return to the North Pole and race again.”
Watch the official video from the race here: