Mihkel Oja recently became the first Estonian ever to take part in the Antarctic Ice Marathon. A total of 62 runners from 18 countries took part in the 16th rendition of the competition.
The participants of the Antarctic Ice Marathon tend to fall in to two groups - one is trying to make it into the Seven Continents Club, which means they must complete a marathon on all continents, and others just go out to find extreme challenges.
Mihkel Oja said he cannot be boxed in to those groups. "For me, the thought of going to Antarctica came before I knew I was going to run a marathon there," the Estonian said.
The trip was paid for by his former employer LHV and choosing the marathon option was something of a compromise as just going to the southernmost continent in the world was not enough and conquering a peak there seemed too difficult.
Oja completed two marathons in Estonia to prepare for the competition. "When we landed, the wind tried taking my nose off, which is when I realized I should put on my warmest clothes and do this hike," the Estonian noted.
He added that the conditions were not the worst - temperatures were around -15 C. But the soft snow made running difficult. The competition took place on a 10.5 km lap, which the runners finished four times. The participants were not allowed to stray from the lap, because there were warnings of dangerous cracks being hidden under a layer of snow.
Oja finished 12th among the men with a time of 5 hours and 13 minutes. "I felt surprisingly strong after finishing. But there was a feeling of shock at some point, my whole body was shaking, it was something like a cold shock response," the Estonian said.
He said the most surprising thing about the continent is just how lifeless it is, but the highlight might have been experiencing the midnight sun. "It being light all the time is one thing, but another thing is if you constantly see the sun. It just circles around the horizon and the clock is just numbers," Oja said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste