Oakwood University President Delbert W. Baker, Ph.D., successfully completed “the world’s coolest marathon”— the 26.2-mile North Pole Marathon, or “The Grand Slam of Marathons,” as it is commonly known—despite blizzard-like conditions. The North Pole Marathon is recognized by Guinness World Records as the northernmost marathon on Earth. It is the only certified marathon that is run entirely on water; runners and officials are literally floating on an ice platform in the Arctic Ocean.
Baker is the first African American on record as having run marathons at the North Pole and the South Pole, as officially certified by Richard Donovan, founder and organizer of Polar Running Adventures (originator of the North Pole and South Pole marathons. As one of the few athletes to have completed marathons on all seven continents, Baker has earned membership in the exclusive North Pole Marathon Grand Slam Club.
Baker left Huntsville on April 3 to travel to Longyearbyen, Norway, and then it was on to Camp Ice Barneo at the North Pole. There, he and 23 other marathoners physically and mentally prepared to run 26.2 miles on Arctic ice floes, with only 6-12 feet separating them from 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean. Baker crossed the finish line on April 7, with the United States and Oakwood University flags in one hand and the Bible in the other, just over eight hours after starting the race. Having run in blizzard-like conditions, he said: “By the grace of God and some serious grit, I finished the North Pole Marathon …. It will go down as the most grueling and difficult marathon I’ve completed.” Baker went on to say, “Virtually everyone reported that this was their highest time marathon, in spite of the fact that most of the persons on this expedition were experienced marathoners.” More information about the 2010 North Pole Marathon is available at www.npmarathon.com.
Baker has completed 48 marathons altogether since he first became an avid runner. He has finished races on each of the seven continents, and in 34 states. However, as the chief executive officer of Oakwood University, his primary motivation is his students. Baker’s passion for raising scholarship money and his love for athletics has fueled the successful Running for Scholarships campaign.
Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida, sponsors Baker’s marathon quest by covering all expenses associated with running the marathons, allowing every dollar raised through this campaign to be applied directly to student scholarships. Currently, the marathons that Baker has already run have generated approximately $400,000, which goes to assisting students at Oakwood University with the expenses of their college education. Baker challenged himself to raise an additional $150,000 from this North Pole race for the scholarship fund, but managed to raise $152,000 instead. He indicated that “We are well over $400,000 in moving toward the overall total goal of a $500,000 endowment for the scholarship fund.” For more information on contributing to Running for Scholarships, go online to www.oakwood.edu/runningforscholarships/
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