Auckland boy Quinn Gardiner-Hall, 11, trains for half marathon in Antarctica

By Martin Johnston

Junior distance runner Quinn Gardiner-Hall is just weeks away from following in the footsteps of his heroes to the icy southern land.

But at just 11 years old, the boy from Waiuku, south of Auckland, will be much younger when he goes to Antarctica than the adventurers Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Peter Blake.

Quinn set himself the challenge to run four half marathons before he turns 12 - next year - and he intends to complete his mission in Antarctica in March.

The Antarctica Marathon & Half Marathon is held on King George Island, which is part of the South Shetland Islands and is 120km off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

"It's not just like running in New Zealand," Quinn said. "It's more hard out because it's cold and icy.

"It's supposed to be really, really cold down there, although it's not as cold as in the middle of Antarctica because we are only on the Peninsula. It's 0 to minus 15 degrees Celsius and with the wind it can get down to minus 21.

"They say not to wear too many layers because you might overheat. You don't want to sweat because it can sometimes turn into ice all over your body."

King George Island is 120km off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo / 123rf
King George Island is 120km off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo / 123rf

Two of Quinn's big runs have been overseas - the Kauai Half Marathon in Hawaii and the Australian Outback Half Marathon - following his first, at Kerikeri when he was 8.

But distance running is not Quinn's only sport. He competes in other athletics events, plays rugby, does duathlons and triathlon events and is building his swimming technique and endurance for a future in triathlon and multisport racing.

He does all this because he enjoys it, but also to help make a change.

"The reason I do my half marathons is because of friends on laptops and iPads. I'm trying to inspire them to get out and get more active."

It's having an effect: "Most of my friends are being more active."

Mum Kylie Hall, who has also entered in the Antarctic event under its rules that youngsters must have a participant guardian, says the trip, via Argentina, is costing around $40,000 - "mostly by the bank of Mum and Dad on the mortgage".

She says Quinn's Hawaiian half marathon was funded by an AMP scholarship which has also paid the $5000 deposit for his place in the Antarctica Half Marathon.

"We have recently set up a givealittle page to help raise further funds and to also open up the opportunity to all Kiwis to get their name running with Quinn in Antarctica, as all who donate can have their name added to a special scroll that will run with Quinn in the race."

To donate to Quinn's trip, see this givealittle page

Antarctic athletics
• Marathon Tours & Travel run an annual marathon and half marathon on King George Island
• The island is 120km off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and much of it is covered by glaciers
• 11 countries have research bases on the island
• The marathon events are on dirt roads
• Normal offroad running shoes - and ski goggles - are recommended

- NZ Herald

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