Aussie mum breaks ultramarathon polar record

Melbourne woman Donna Urquhart in  Antarctica.

Melbourne woman Donna Urquhart in Antarctica. Photo: AAP

A Melbourne mum has broken the world record for the longest run in a polar region after completing a 1300km ultramarathon in Antarctica. 

Donna Urquhart set out on her mission on December 15 and ran up to 60km each day to complete her 1312.26km run in 26 days.

“It’s a bit surreal to be honest,” she told AAP on Friday after completing the ultramarathon. 

“I feel like I need to pinch myself and then I’ll wake up tomorrow and need to run again.”

The record will need official sign off from Guinness World Records, but it appears to have beaten the standing record.

The Guinness World Records still needs to officially tick off the record but it does surpass Australian Pat Farmer’s current record of 1198km over 19 days. 

It was Urquhart’s first ultramarathon but she did nine months of preparation for the event, including running for hours in a freezer container that can be set to -40°C. 

“But nothing quite prepares you for actually being there and experiencing those conditions,” she said. 

On the third day of her ultramarathon, Urquhart had to run through heavy snow and -20°C temperatures.

“The wind was howling and really strong, to the point where you don’t have the brain power – you almost just shrivel up,” she said.

“You just feel paralysed and I realised at that point how gruelling this was going to be.”

Urquhart was able to push through, noting the physical pain left her within the first week as her body adapted.

She said completing the significant feat was not only important for herself, but also other women and young girls.

“I’m just really proud to show what females are capable of doing,”  Urquhart said.

“For us, as a team, this is a platform where we’re starting to raise awareness and funds to support young girls and females in sport.

“We’ve so far raised $75,000 and it’s just the start of what we want to do in this space to support females so they can also explore what’s possible for them.”

Urquhart and her team will be returning to Melbourne on Tuesday – weather permitting – and she was most looking forward to seeing her 11-year-old son.

She doesn’t have her next ultramarathon lined up but it’s only a matter of time.

“I love to explore what’s possible for myself, for females,” Urquhart said.

“There’s huge sacrifices to do something of this size and nature, and so I want to go home and spend some time with my family, and go back to work.

“But I would love to do another ultramarathon and explore what that might be like in the next little while.”


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