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Ultra-runner plans trans-Europe trip in preparation for Antarctica challenge

Published 28/12/2015

Richard Donovan, from Galway, is preparing to brave some of the coldest temperatures on the planet for a run across Antarctica
Richard Donovan, from Galway, is preparing to brave some of the coldest temperatures on the planet for a run across Antarctica

A record-breaking endurance runner has set himself the challenge of running across Europe next year as he prepares for an epic first across Antarctica.

Richard Donovan, from Galway, who organises some of the wildest and most exotic marathons in the world, has pencilled in next November for his race against the elements in a run across the frozen continent through the South Pole.

But before he sets foot on the icy wastes, the former economist will run from Istanbul to San Sebastian, beginning in late April, as part of training for the massive mental and physical challenge.

"I intend to run east to west from Turkey to Spain, which is a distance about 2,000 miles," he said.

"The general plan is to run about 40 miles per day and this will help further with my preparation for running across Antarctica."

And he light-heartedly spoke of the everyday dangers of Antarctica: "Following my Trans Europe Run, I'll concentrate more on polar-specific training that could be useful for the Antarctic run, such as crevasse self-rescue techniques."

Mr Donovan, who organises extreme events including the Antarctic 100k and Ice Marathon, the World Marathon Challenge of seven marathons on seven Continents in seven days, the North Pole Marathon and the Volcano Marathon, will turn his attention to more specific polar training as the year goes on.

The challenge has been years in the making.

As part of preparations, Mr Donovan ran across America at the height of the last summer, about 3,200 miles from San Francisco to New York, along Highway 50, over the Rockies and across deserts.

"The Antarctic run would be about 1,000 miles, but in some of the most unforgiving conditions on the planet," he said.

The ultra-runner will run from the Ross Ice Shelf to the Leverett Glacier, ascending to more than 9,000ft on the polar plateau to the South Pole, and ultimately finishing at Hercules Inlet on the South American side of the continent.

"Antarctica is the coldest, driest, windiest continent on Earth and I expect to encounter temperatures as low as -50C," he said.

But recalling the hazards he had to endure and avoid when running across the US, he added: "On the upside, there are no cattle, snakes, aggressive dogs or people in Antarctica."

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