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The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon Kindle Edition

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Length: 226 pages

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. What happens when runners tackle a marathon over slush, ice and naked rock on an Antarctic island? Yes, their race times are much slower, but this bizarre exercise has, over the past 10 years, raised concerns far beyond the typical marathoners'. Author and Runner's World contributing editor Hanc (The Essential Marathoner) devotes the sea lion's share of this ice-bound marathon memoir to these concerns, especially in examining the determined, colorful runners competing alongside him (including "bicycle-riding grandmas" and a wheelchair-bound marathoner from Singapore). The 50-year-old writer became interested after speaking with a recently returned friend ("'It feels like I just got back from another planet,' Lipsky said") and soon found himself considering the race in spite of his better sense-improbably, the devoted runner had pushed himself to the point where running 26.2 miles on the streets of New York, Chicago or London was just too cushy. The Antarctic, of course, provides all the challenge he could ever want, and his sharp, fun and funny account captures well the incredible ferocity of life there. Though a special treat for runners, travel readers and non-athletes interested in extreme human experiences will also find this a bracing read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"While it may seem as simple as putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles, the world of the marathon is a complex, funny, strange and fascinating one. . . . John Hanc shows us just how far that world extends and reminds us how compelling and admirable—and okay, zany—are those who go the distance."  —Runner's World Magazine

"No pomp. No generalizations. Just a friend with a great little story to tell. Witty, informative and inspiring."  —Benjamin Cheever, author, Strides:  Running Through History With an Unlikely Athlete

"John Hanc takes us along on an adventure you will never forget. A book that will haunt your thoughts and run with your mind."  —Toby Tanser, author, More Fire: How to Run the Kenyan Way and The Essential Guide to Running the New York City Marathon

"With Hanc as our trusty guide, we emerge from the tale of the trek feeling as if we were there—although we suffered no bouts of seasickness and have not a speck of mud or penguin dung on our boots."  —Mark Will-Weber, author, The Quotable Runner and Run for the Diamonds: 100 Years of Footracing in Berwick, Pennsylvania

"A must read for any adventure-minded runner, or for those just looking to get a taste of what it's like to run a marathon on the most desolate continent on earth."  —Dean Karnazes, marathon runner and author, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

"Full of humor, adventure, and inspiring characters."  —

Product Details

  • File Size: 1368 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1556527381
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (January 1, 2009)
  • Publication Date: January 1, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JSZK26
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,851 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

John Hanc is a New York-based author, journalist, educator and runner, whose 10 books cover a wide range of topics, but usually have these things in common:

a) in one way or another, they're about people, past and present, who do extraordinary, inspiring and sometimes crazy things.

b) most of what he writes about happens outdoors.

c) most of the people involved are usually in motion.

Cases in point are two of his books that have won national awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors:

*"The Coolest Race on Earth," a memoir of Hanc's participation in the Antarctica Marathon

* "Not Dead Yet," the memoir of Phil Southerland, a Type 1 diabetic and professional bike racer, and the founder of Team Type 1.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By GaryB on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The title The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon was intriguing to me. What would possess seemingly sane people to choose this endeavor? John Hanc explains all in this amusing and inspiring tale.

The earlier chapters include a respectful history of marathons and Antarctica exploration highlighting the people who made it happen. You can't help but admire the courage of Scott, Crean, Amundsen and all those early 20th Century explorers.

How will the runners get there? What will they eat? How cold will it be? Do they really need the Home Depot boots? John entertains you detailing all the necessities the runners must bring to participate in the Antarctica Marathon.

All the event organizers, participants and ships's crew are profiled in a way that enables you to like them and cheer them to the finish line. Will Mr. Tan get stuck in the mud? Will the author regret his decision to forego the Gatorade? Will the birds dive-bomb the runners?

The startling photos of Antarctica, taken by amateurs and professionals help you visualize the bleak landscape and the hearty group of participants who ran the marathon.

Although I am not a runner and never intend to be, I enjoyed the look into the psyche and world of the marathon runner. A truly enjoyable book from cover to cover.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ejan33 on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Hanc weaves together the history of Antarctic exploration, the running boom of the seventies as exemplified by the Greater Boston Track Club, the founding of the Antarctica Marathon, and his participation in the event in 2005. Perhaps the story would have been more appealing if it had been more descriptive of the 2005 event and less so of the historical Antarctic explorations. However, Hanc does write in his author's note: "...a few moments--come to think of it, maybe even a few miles--of the Antarctica Marathon itself [have been] left a big vague or unaccounted for because I was delirious with pain."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ed 26.2 on December 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon I ran the the first Antarctic Marathon in 1995 as chronicled in this book and know many of those who have done the subsequent races. The book accurately describes the experience and does a wonderful job of going beyond the running aspect and speaks to the very special place Antarctica is and how it affects those who go there. An inspirational book for all runners. It is a testimony to ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Sanchez on January 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was knocked out by what I saw in the Appendix, of all places. Here, the author lists the results of the 2005 Antarctica Half Marathon. Typically names, ages and finishing times don't draw emotion, and William Tan's taking almost six hrs. to complete 13.1 miles would hardly be considered extraordinary. Knowing, however, what preceded his finish -- who he was and how he got there -- sent Arctic chills. Tan is just one member of Hanc's very real cast that moves the author through his own race and through the book. I laughed, too, seeing Hanc's story, since, outside the pain of 19 earlier races, he was otherwise "pampered" until his 10 days bunking aboard the Vavilov. Shopping a big box hardware store for boots that stand up to penguin dung and hitting the floor after missing a ladder rung as he tries to climb down from bed to use the bathroom are the tip of the iceberg. Hanc's writing, despite his experience in the sport, is anything but pleased with self. Anyone who makes it to the STARTing line of a race this remote, though, has every right to be.
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By WDX2BB on December 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Some people will go to the ends of the earth to run a race.

John Hanc, obviously, is one of those people.

Hanc is the author of "The Coolest Race on Earth," and the subtitle tells you much about the subject: "Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon."

Marathons have been held practically everywhere in the past several years, but Antartica was something of the last frontier in this department. If you haven't heard, it gets a little cold down there in the summer, let alone the winter.

A race in Antarctica seemed like a great way for Hanc to celebrate his 50th birthday -- well, at least it's potentially better for him than a long weekend in Vegas.

Hanc, a teacher and writer, does his homework nicely in this brisk (you've got a better word to describe a 200-page book on running in Antarctica?) book. He covers the story about how Thom Gilligan got into the business of staging running vacations near the South Pole, about the history of the exploration of the region, and about the state of the region.

It's fun to follow Hanc's progress and meet some of his fellow runners. They flew to Argentina, and took a Russian ship to Antarctica. The race itself was located on King George Island, located just off the coast of the main continent.

Conditions were tough there, but probably not for the expected reason. The temperature was a little above the freezing mark at the start, turning some of the course into the proverbial "giant mud pit" usually associated with monster truck shows. The times were pretty slow.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment about the book is that the race mentioned here was run in 2005. That's a bit of a lag to publication in 2009.
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