North Pole Marathon

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2009 Competitors

Sarah Ames (Germany)

First German woman to complete a marathon on all 7 continents (Chicago Marathon 02, Antarctica Marathon 03, Tierra del Fuego Marathon 05, Ulm Marathon 05, Marrakech Marathon 07, Nagano Marathon 07, Sydney Marathon 07). Sarah has completed 19 marathons to date, including two marathons in Antarctica and one ultramarathon. Sarah was born and raised in Heidelberg, Germany and after studying at the University of Hamburg moved to the U.S. where she now works in Chicago as an attorney in international law. Running along Chicago’s lakefront in winter at temperatures of -20C and windchills down to -35C will be good preparation for the NP Marathon. Sarah hopes to become the first German woman to join the Grand Slam Club.

Nick Appell (Great Britain)

A 40-year-old who recently decided to become as fit, healthy & active as possible for as long as possible. Having had three children in the space of two years (one girl & twin boys), Nick decided that one of the best investments he could make in life was in his health: he owes it to his children. With this in mind, Nick decided to set himself an annual physical challenge and has run two London Marathons and climbed Kilimanjaro so far. Why the North Pole marathon now? His house is so noisy that he is hoping it will be the quietest place on earth!

J.R. Arebalo (USA)

Completed multiple 5ks, 10ks and half-marathons. J.R. has also run the White Rock Marathon and various hi-tech adventure races and has always loved outdoor competition and pushing himself. As a rugby player, he played on a college level 1st side (University of North Texas), club level 1st side (Denton RFC and Dallas RFC) and major league rugby (select professional side) for Dallas. J.R. also loves mountain biking and hiking and has climbed a number of fourteeners. His reason for going to the Pole: "It sounds challenging as hell and we don't get to truly challenge ourselves enough in this modern world we live in. It's so easy to talk about doing challenging things but another thing entirely to just shut up and actually do them. When I'm on my death bed, I want to be able to look back and say, "Once I ran a marathon at the North Pole." J.R. will be writing about the marathon for American Airlines' in-flight magazine.

Michael Bartl (Germany)

A triathlete who has also finished 28 marathons all over the world. Michael has finished 10 Ironman triathlons including in Switzerland, Germany (2 times), Austria, Lanzarote, Florida (2 times), Brazil, Canada and France. He likes deserts - whether sand or ice deserts. After two races in the heat of the Sahara (Libyan Challenge 185km non-stop race and the Marathon des Sables, he will encounter cold at the North Pole Marathon. Michael is 53 years old and works as a sales manager in a book publishing company. He is married with two sons and lives south of Germany near Lake Constance and the Alps.

Mark Balsiger (USA)

A two-time Ironman finisher, a Team USA masters member in both triathlon and duathlon, and a competitor in three world championships. A late bloomer in the world of running and triathlon, starting at the age of 49, Mark (now 58) is on the board for the longest, continuously running triathlon series in the world (Southwest Challenge Series) which has brought countless young people into the sport. He has 16 marathons to his credit, including qualifying and running Boston in 2007. His lust for adventure stems from many years as an underwater filmmaker with documentaries from coral reef destruction in the Philippines to following the migration of whales from the Dominican Republic to the icebergs of Davis Strait off Greenland. Recently married for the first time last August to Mariana, an accomplished triathlete in her own right, she has been helping Mark train for the North Pole by running the desert sand dunes in snow shoes, accompanied by their Siberian Husky “sled dog”.

Kal Bittianda (India / USA) - Fred's Team

A 43-year-old who ran some track at College but spent most of his adult years playing team sports. Around the year 2000, Kal picked up endurance running and marathoning. It served as a perfect relief to the stress of a busy work life in a start-up company. Running has also proved a great way to visit new places and to meet some very interesting people. Kal has run 19 marathons since 2001 and is in the midst of his "Global Meltdown Tour" - running all the cold places he can find as he prefers cold weather to the heat. To date, Kal has run in Antarctica, Greenland and Mongolia: the North Pole would complement this list and he is looking forward to the experience. To donate to his charity, please visit www.tinyurl.com/northpolemarathon. All proceeds will benefit cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Robert Bundschch (USA)

Middle aged, middle class, middle of the United States, balding guy...."How boring is that?", says Bob. He says he came to the realisation years ago that he would never be the fastest runner, and he's ok with that. He might be able to shave some time off with more dedicated training, more time doing speedwork, more miles, etc, but would he really enjoy it as much? Instead of the fast path, he has chosen the fun path. He has run a marathon on every continent (Asia, N America and Antarctica twice) and has made countless new friends from all over the world. Along the way he has got to run on the Great Wall of China, stand surrounded by penguins, be woken up by a lion's roar at 2am while realising he's sleeping in only a canvas tent, stare at billions of stars from deep in the New Zealand outback, drink some of the finest beer in Prague and watch the sun set over the Himalayas. And now the next adventure...

Pushpa Chandra (Canada)

A Vancouver-based Naturopathic Physician who is raising money to build schools in the most remote areas of Nepal. Pushpa's charity is the Canadian School For Nepalese Girls. She has participated in over 50 marathons and ultramarathons as well as Ironman Canada. Among them, Pushpa has run numerous ultramarathons in Vancouver as well as a 100k in Amsterdam and the Everest Marathon at 17,000 feet. Born in Fiji, Pushpa began running to school every day in order to save her bus fare to buy treats. She was the only female participant in the 2008 Antarctic 100k and successfully finished the distance in a female record time.

Jorge Gonzales de Matauco (Spain)

Completed 23 marathons and ultramarathons all over the world. Jorge's favoutire marathons have been the Polar Circle Marathon (Greenland), Spitsbergen Marathon (Norway), Laugavegur Ultramarathon (Iceland), Antarctica Marathon, Fin del Mundo Marathon (Argentina), Jungfrau Marathon (Switzerland), Cimasa Run (Reunión), Olympus Marathon (Greece), Fuji Mountain Race (Japan), Swiss Alpine Marathon (Switzerland), Q50 Patagonia Ultramarathon (Argentina) and the Toubkal Trail Race (Morocco). His best marathon time is 3 hours 24 minutes. Jorge has written a book about his trips and races in the Arctic and Northern Europe: "Filípides era vikingo" (in Spanish language). He also publishes articles in Spanish athletic magazines ssuch as Runner´s World, Trail and The Gryffin.

Tim Davie (Great Britain)

A 41-year-old who has completed 7 marathons to date. Tim is running for the UK-based MENCAP charity. He works at the BBC where he is responsible for all of the BBC national radio stations. Tim is married, has 3 sons, and lives in Oxfordshire.

Mike Davies (New Zealand)

A 41-year-old Kiwi with plenty of 40k+ mountain running experience in New Zealand. Mike has also run the New York Marathon, Great Wall of China Marathon and the Kepler Challenge (62k mountain run) on two occasions. He has always wanted to go to the North Pole or South Pole and being to do a run made it an easy decision.

Tom Djurdjevich (USA) - Fred's Team

A 38-year-old who has run 13 marathons on all 7 continents. Tom is running his 14th and final marathon at the North Pole as a fundraiser for cancer research. All proceeds will benefit cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. A New York City-based IT consultant, Tom is an avid global sports fan and traveller in his spare time. He has sung karaoke on six continents: South America is missing because of travel delays, but he hopes to complete that goal soon. To donate to his charity, please visit www.tinyurl.com/northpolemarathon.

Stuart Driver (Great Britain)

Successfully completed a number of marathons around the world over the past 19 years. Stuart also finished the recent 2008 Antarctic Ice Marathon - the sister race of the North Pole Marathon.

Jacques Fox (Luxembourg)

Finished several marathons and ultramarathons such as the Marathon des Sables in Morocco and the Diagonal des Fouts at la Réunion. Jacques has also completed dozens of triathlons, including double and triple Ironmans and 2 Deca-Ironmans (38 km swim, 1800km bike, 422km run). As a cyclist, he has several randonnée in Europe under his belt: 600km in Switzerland, 1200km in France and Paris Brest Paris.

Evgeniy Gorkov (Russia)

A seasoned marathon and ultramarathon athlete. In 2005, he won both the Gobi March 250km self-sufficient desert race (China) and the Silver State Marathon , Nevada (USA). He also won the inaugural Antarctic Ice Marathon in 2006. Evgeniy has never run distances shorter than 25 miles competitively, preferring difficult terrain and temperatures outside of the 'normal' person's range. He is returning to the Pole after skydiving there in 2003 -- he needs to find a misplaced pair of gloves. Evgeniy's most recent was the Lake Baikal Ice Marathon on 8 March 2009 where he finished 2nd overall. His personal page is http://run.gorkov.org.

Dan Hamner (USA) - Fred's Team

A 68-year medical doctor who is set to become the oldest person ever to compete in the North Pole Marathon. Dan has had a private practice—Dan Hamner M.D., Sports Medicine & Rehab—in New York City since 1985. He is also an accomplished athlete with two world records in his current 60-69 age group. In his 50s, he ran a half marathon in 1:17:42—and he can do 30 pull-ups at a time. Dan intends to run the North Pole Marathon about one month short of his 69th birthday. He has appeared on numerous television and radio shows and has written for various publications. See his website, www.drdansportsmd.com, which includes a media page with a short video of his Caveman Workout as seen on television. *To donate to his charity, please visit www.tinyurl.com/northpolemarathon. All proceeds will benefit cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Angelo Henry (South Africa)

Hopes to become the first South African member of the Marathon Grand Slam Club by running marathons on all seven continents and at the North Pole. To date, Angelo has run a wide variety of marathons, ultramarathons, duathlons and triathlons on six continents. Among them, he has completed the Great Wall of China Marathon, the Comrades Marathon of 89km (twice), the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon (three times) and the South African Ironman Triathlon. Angelo finished third in the 2008 Antarctic Ice Marathon and is also an entrant in the 2009 North Pole Marathon. He is raising money for charity through his particpation in these events. To support him, see www.angelo-northpole-marathon.com.

Ted Jackson (Great Britain)

A former opera singer with the royal philharmonic orchestra who has completed the New York and London marathons, the London Triathlon and the Tour de France cycling course. Ted (36) took up running after his father had a triple bypass operation and his brother had a heart attack aged only 35. After dabbling with the New York Marathon and London Tri, he had a "mad idea" of cycling the Tour de France course. He completed all 21 stages in as many days just two weeks ahead of the pros in 2006. Weighing in at 15 stone and climbing all those mountains day after day was a massive achievement and proved to Ted that anything is possible. He recently swam the English Channel (butterfly) and cycled up Alpe d'Huez on a unicycle....in his dreams!

David Jorgensen (Great Britain)

A 36-year-old who recently caught the running bug. David enjoys getting away from it all by cross country running in the Highlands of Scotland. He has taken part in some ultramarathons and thinks the North Pole Marathon will be good acclimatisation for the Marathon des Sables in 2010. His wife thinks he's mad! David works in the Oil Industry as a rope access supervisor and lives in the UK.

Lucinda Kitching (Great Britain)

Former county lacrosse player and keen skier who would never normally consider running. Lucinda is making her marathon debut at the 2009 North Pole Marathon. She will be joined by her new husband who is running with her - the marathon is their honeymoon! She is running behalf of Help for Heroes. See www.justgiving/lucindawattsnp.

Rupert Kitching (Great Britain)

An Army Major in the Scots Guards and one half of a honeymooning couple at the North Pole. With his new wife Lucinda, Rupert is making his marathon debut at the 2009 North Pole Marathon. Lucinda had already signed up to the adventure before they got engaged and Rupert felt it would be rather ungentlemanly to let one's new wife disappear on some mad cap adventure on her lonesome. Rupert is a keen sportsman and has represented the Army and Combined Services at Alpine Skiing. Sport and fitness is a daily part of the job but he is new to the whole marathon experience. However, he feels that if one is going to do one it may as well be at the North Pole. He is running behalf of Help for Heroes. See www.justgiving/lucindawattsnp.

Neil MacDonald (Great Britain)

A 40-year-old who has completed a number of half-marathons, four full marathons and two ultramarathons, including the 2008 Marathon des Sables. He is travelling to the North Pole with his brother Rory and his father Tom (not running). The brothers are dedicating this race to the memory of their brother-in-law, Capt John McDermid, who was killed in action in November 2007 in Afghanistan. They are raising funds for the charity HELP FOR HEROES in the process. To donate, please go to www.justgiving.com/neilmacdonald234. Both brothers are aiming to join the Grand Slam club and if successful at the North Pole, they will be half way there. Neil is a Police Officer and has served for 18 years in the north of Scotland.

Rory MacDonald (Great Britain)

Finished many 10k races, half-marathons and 12 full marathons, including New York, Malta, London & Edinburgh. However, Rory's biggest challenge to date has been the 2008 Marathon Des Sables, which he completed with his brother: it was a whole new experience of pain and heat but a great feeling of achievement when they finished. Rory has also taken part in hill walking in Scotland, bagging a few mountains along the way. He also ventured into cycling a couple of years ago and has enjoyed it ever since, completing the Beallach na Bha hill climb and the Etape Caledonia for the last two years. Rory also finished a half Ironman last year. He is running the North Pole Marathon with his brother Neil and bringing their Dad along to spectate. The brothers are running in memory of their brother-in-law, John McDermid, who was killed in action in Afghanistan 2007. In the process, they are raising funds for Help for Heroes, a charity which cares for injured servicemen and their families. To donate, please go to www.justgiving.com/neilmacdonald234.

MICHEL "MUCOJORETAPO" TEAM

The Michel team is a family team comprising four brothers and a son. Their family challenge is to run the North Pole Marathon for the daughter of one brother (she is a cystic fibrosis patient) and to raise awareness of the Vaincre La Mucoviscidose charity. Cystic fibrosis is a deadly genetically transmitted disease. It destroys lungs and provokes severe respiratory and digestive disorders. It is still incurable. The Michels run all year round. The last weekend of September for Les Virades de l'Epoir event to raise funds for Vaincre La Mucoviscidose. Their team has been named Mucojorétapo, which means "I will overcome cystic fibrosis". The Michel team website is http://mpn2009.blogspot.com.

Herve Michel (France) - Michel Team

A 43-year-old mountain climber and runner. For 25 years, Hervé, an Air France captain, has shared the same passion for alpinism as his brother Jean-Christophe. In addition, he has run ultramarathons all over the world with his brother Renaud. Among these ultramarathons have been the Mont-Blanc Ultratrail, Grand Raid de la Réunion and numerous 24 hour races. Hervé and Renaud are the most experienced runners of the family.

Jean-Christophe Michel (France) - Michel Team

A 44-year-old mountain climber and skiier who has completed two marathons, two 24-hour races and several trail events. Jean-Christophe decided to take up the North Pole Marathon challenge first and proposed it to his brothers and son. The family accepted immediately! Jean-Christophe works as a primary school teacher.

Renaud Michel (France) - Michel Team

At 37-years-old, the youngest of the Michel brothers. Renaud's daughter Marine is a cystic fibrosis patient and he is running for her with the charity Vaincre La Mucoviscidose. He enjoys running races of any length from the classic marathon distance to extreme ultra trails to 100km and 24-hour races. He has finished multiple Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc and Le Grand Raid de la Réunion events and holds a marathon PB of 3h 4mins. Renaud is an executive in the aeronautical business in Toulouse.

Thomas Michel (France) - Michel Team

The 'newcomer' to the family team. 20-year-old Thomas has run several half-marathons and the last 39 km of the hilly Saintélyo race. The son of Jean-Christophe, he wants to become a professional fireman.

Yvan Michel (France) - Michel Team

A 39-year-old with lots of experience in mountain biking, half-marathons, cross-country, alpine skiing and triathlons. Yvan is a Sales Director for an electronic cards manufacturing company.

Jon O'Shea (Great Britain)

A recent convert to athletics who is running seven marathons on all continents for the Meningitis Research Foundation. Jon started running 3 years ago after kicking a 20-year smoking habit. He initially decided to run the London Marathon only but it snowballed from there. He has already run London, Las Vegas, Kenya Safaricom, Mumbai, Berlin and Amsterdam (on his 40th birthday), leaving Antarctica, Oceania and South America to complete. He hopes to finish the challenge in early 2010. With a best half-marathon time of 1:53 and full marathon of 4:29, Jon says he won't be troubling the front runners at the North Pole but expects to retain his 2008 Sambuca title. Jon is a Tax Partner with Haslers, a firm of accountants in Essex. He suffered from Meningitis as a child.

Anders Pettersson (Brazil)

Completed eight 26.2-mile marathons, two half-ironmans, several Olympic distance triathlons and one 100K. Team captain for the Brazilian Cross Country ski team in the last three World Championships and in the last Winter Olympics. Anders is hoping to become the first South American to complete the NPM. He is also a Swedish citizen and lived in Stockholm for 10 years before his current residency in São Paulo, Brazil. Anders is the owner of a consulting entity that specialises in company recovery. He has just completed a general manager assignment (his 4th) within the pump and valve business. He is 44 years old and looking forward to becoming part of the first father-and-daughter combination to complete the North Pole Marathon.

Stefanie Pettersson (Brazil)

No major experience in running; longest walk was 8K last January at a beach in northern Brazil. Her ability to comple the North Pole Marathon will be based more on stamina than on physical conditioning: she will need the support of everyone involved and lots of time to complete the race. Stefanie is currently in high school (9th. grade in the Sigtunaskolan boarding school close to Stockholm). She likes mathematics and team sports such as volleyball and tennis, but also swimming. She hopes to become the youngest person to complete the NPM (16 years and two weeks on race day) as well as the first South American woman. Stefanie is additionally looking forward to being part of the first father-and-daughter combination to complete the NPM.

Rob Plijnaar (Netherlands)

Completed 29 marathons and ultras, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and the famous Marathon des Sables. Rob has also completed hundreds of half-marathons and half-triathlons in numerous countries. His marathon PB is 2:39 while his half-marathon PB is 1:12. After running one of the hottest martahons in the world, the MDS, Rob made the decision to run the coolest. He is a 58-year-old hotel director.

Fernando Ribeiro (Luxembourg)

A member of the 7 continents marathon club since 2007 whose goal is now to become a member of the North Pole Marathon Grand Slam Club. Fernando has completed 13 official marathons to date. He has additionally run the mythical Marathon des Sables three times and several other trail runs.

Willy Roberts (New Zealand)

Vastly experienced sportsperson. Willy's sporting resume includes the McLehose Trail 100km run (Hong Kong); two Cross-Scotland's; two Coast to Coast's (New Zealand); three Southern Traverse's (New Zealand); and numerous mountain running events in New Zealand and Hong Kong. In sailing, he has participated in Sydney-Hobart; 10 China Sea Races (Hong Kong - Manila); 3 HK to Vietnam events; and 4 Peak Races in Hong Kong. Willy has undertaken 30,000nm+ of ocean sailing and participated in numerous regattas worldwide. He has also climbed Kilimanjaro, Mt Kinabalu (3 times) and numerous peaks in New Zealand. Although he has never raced an official marathon distance, he raced Routeburn Trial (38km) in 3hr02min and the Kepler Challenge (68Km) in just under 6hrs. Willy's reason for going to Pole is to experience a lifetime adventure, perhaps something that might not be achievable in the future. It is one of the remaining places on the planet that few people have been to.

Daniela Spiridigliozzi (Great Britain)

A serving RAF Officer who has always been a keen runner, cyclist and skiier. Having just finshed serving six months in Afghanistan, she fancied something entirely different such as the North Pole Marathon.

Mariko Takano (Japan)

The first Japanese woman to complete a marathon on all 7 continents. Mariko has run 30+ marathons and 10 ultramarathon events. Included among the ultras have been the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage race, the Two Oceans ultra in South Africa, the Great Wall 100km race in China and several other 100km events in native Japan. She hopes to become the first Japanese person to join the Grand Slam Club. As it hardly ever snows in Tokyo, Mariko has taken up Pilates and other scientific training instead of running on the snow.

Simon Wrenn (Great Britain)

Finished three marathons with a PB of 3.58 and three Ironman races. Simon doesn't describe himself as a serious runner at all. He entered the North Pole Marathon because he thought it looked like fun. It was also a good means for the 32-year-old to raise funds for a local hospice charity. Simon will be running the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert the week before travelling to the Pole.

Norm Zinker (USA) - Fred's Team

Brooklyn-born NYC native who lives, works and runs in Manhattan. Norm, 66, has completed 27 marathons, running his first one in 1982. An avid photographer; and a country and rock music fan, Norm hopes to spot a few air-guitar polar bears on the frozen Arctic Ocean course. He works at the Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft Fitness Center, powered by Plus One. Norm is hoping to raise global warming awareness, specifically, on the North Pole. "Polar bears too, need a place to call home." Norm is dedicating his run to Steve Jobs; wishing him a speedy recovery. *To donate to his charity, please visit www.tinyurl.com/northpolemarathon. All proceeds will benefit cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.