campaign: Ice Marathon
raising the money: Errol + Lizzie
raised so far: $76,106
mission statement: “We’re attempting the Antarctic Ice Marathon, near the South Pole, one of the world’s driest and most inhospitable environments. Only 100 people have ever completed this mammoth event (fewer than 14 women). Any donation amount will will help immensely and will also help to motivate us in what’s going to be a mammoth event.”
A marathon is one thing. But imagine running 26.2 miles on an active glacier, at an altitude of 3,000 feet, in sub-zero temperatures. That’s what Errol and Lizzie did on Nov. 30 to fundraise for clean drinking water — and they finished fourth and eighth in the race! We talked to Lizzie to find out what went into their incredibly difficult feat and their passion to behind it:
Where did you hear about the Ice Marathon? What inspired you to join?
It was very much Errol’s idea… he was looking for a challenge and having done a number of ‘normal’ marathons, was wanting to do something that would push him a bit further. A friend of his suggested a polar race. I love to run and was about to do my first city marathon when he asked me and I couldn’t say no.
I’ve always be fascinated by Antarctica and had wanted to visit the continent for many years. I was also looking for a charity project, given that in the past I’ve done lots of volunteering but have limited time now to dedicate. This felt like something we’d be able to raise a lot of money for so I was keen.
So which came first — the desire to compete in the Ice Marathon or do something to fundraise for clean water?
They came together really. The appeal of the marathon was that it was so ridiculous people would be stunned into donating! We certainly wouldn’t have raised $100,000 for a 10K in Hyde Park. We spent time looking at a number of other charities to see if they would put our money to good use… it was important for us to feel that we would be making an impact.
The appeal of the marathon was that it was so ridiculous people would be stunned into donating!
charity: water won in the end because of the efficiency of the model; we liked the way technology is used to both raise money but also track and monitor the impact. We also felt water, as a cause, was something that would resonate with everyone we knew. It’s a totally global, non-political issue.
Give us a sense of your training… how does someone prepare for this kind of event?
We trained in pretty much the same way as one would for a normal marathon, with a few extra long runs to get used to running for five to six hours. Both of us can do a city marathon in less than three and a half hours; we’d just never been on our feet for that long (five to six hours). I was training in Mumbai mostly, which wasn’t ideal, but I tried to pack in as many runs as possible when I was in cooler weather. I managed training runs in Switzerland (on a glacier) and in the Himalayas (when attending a wedding). Errol ran a very cold and rainy marathon in Toronto a few weeks before the race.
How many marathons have you done?
This was my second marathon and Errol’s fifth. Neither or us had run on snow before and it was tougher than we imagined. All future marathons should be a walk in the park so we’re looking for a new challenge.
Why water, for you?
Access to clean water is something most people in the West take for granted. It’s just so hard to image that a massive percentage of the planet’s population constantly has to battle for access this basic commodity. I live in India and Errol spends a lot of time in Africa and we’ve both seen the impact close-up in countries we love. It’s such a huge development barrier and it just shouldn’t be, given the technology that is available. We also felt the cause was very fitting to the race… we were running in the world’s largest desert.
The most rewarding part of your campaign?
Every day, I felt completely overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors. It’s not about the absolute amount people donate, we all know different people have different incomes but to see old school friends of mine donating literally their week’s or month’s disposable income was very humbling.
I also sent the request to a couple of running clubs and was amazed how many complete strangers sponsored us — that was very rewarding.
Any other tidbits about your experience you’d like to share?
It is really important that Antarctica is extremely well-protected from human impact and at the camp, we had to preserve all dirty water and take it back to Chile with us. This included all human waste as well… so let’s just say yellow snow was totally banned.
Last thing: do you have advice for others thinking of raising money for charity: water projects?
If you want to raise decent sponsorship, do something a little bit crazy. Also, be prepared to have a thick skin and really hassle people for money. I sent out emails three times in many cases before they coughed up!
See more coverage of the Ice Marathon on CBC news here >