Huntsville, Ala. — Oakwood University President, Delbert W. Baker, successfully completed the Antarctic Ice Marathon (AIM) this past weekend in Antarctica. He was one of five runners representing the United States, and finished the race in just under seven hours, clocking in at 6 hours, 53 minutes, and 15 seconds.
The AIM took place at Patriot Hills in the Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica. The race started at 8:10 p.m. Chilean time, Saturday, December 13, in chilling temperatures of -12°C, and ended Sunday morning, December 14. Fortunately, this is the time of year when the Antarctic experiences continuous daylight for six consecutive months, so the marathoners never had to worry about running in the dark. Flags are used in this race to guide athletes around the course in this endless sea of snow and ice, and participants are kept in view and closely tracked at almost all times. It is extremely important to keep peripherals covered and to be alert to any signs of frost damage since any exposed area of skin can become frostbitten in just a matter of seconds.Most of the 16 participants who completed the full marathon had experience running marathons around the world in places like the Sahara, Himalayas, Everest, and the North Pole. Baker described the race as “beautiful and brutal,” remarking that it was the most difficult event he had ever attempted. He noted that this success was possible only with the inspiration of his wife, Susan, the students, faculty, and staff of Oakwood University, and the generous donors who pledged more than $80,000 in scholarship and endowment funds for the Running for Scholarships Endowment, if Baker completed the race.
Contributors to AIM include the Adventist Health System, BCI, Colonial Bank, Consolidated Construction Company, Florida Hospital (CREATION Health Model), Huntsville Hospital, Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C., SAIC, SunTrust Bank, UNCF, and WEUP-AM/FM. The Seventh-day Adventist conferences that have made contributions include the Bermuda Conference, Central States Conference, South Atlantic Conference, South Central Conference, Southwest Region Conference, Columbia Union Conference, and Southern Union Conference. The Ice Marathon, as it is also called for short, is recognized as the race that is run the closest to the South Pole in the Antarctic. According to Ultimate Adventures in the Rough Guide 2008 Edition, Antarctica is considered one of the most inconvenient places on the planet. It is said to be the coldest, windiest, driest, most inhospitable place on earth. Just getting there requires extraordinary logistical considerations, and surviving the harsh environment takes careful planning, preparation and immense determination.
According to plan, Baker crossed the finish line carrying the American flag in one hand and a pocket version of the Holy Bible in the other. With the completion of the AIM, Baker has successfully completed 6 marathons on 7 continents and 28 marathons in 50 states. For those who are keeping a close eye on those numbers, a more complete account will be provided at a later date to fill you in on that extra continent he picked up along the way to the Antarctic Circle.For more information on how you can track or give to the Running for Scholarships Endowment, log on to www.oakwood.edu. Photos of the race will be made available online at the end of the week. These marathons are underwritten by Florida Hospital (CREATION Health Model), in Orlando, Fla.