This week’s cold snap is proving ideal training weather for two intrepid Wakatipu men tackling the world’s highest marathon.
The temperature will be about minus 10 when Arrowtown project manager Ken Hardman and Queenstown engineer Martin O’Malley line up for the Everest Marathon on December 2.
The starting line, just below base camp of the world’s highest mountain, is 5184m, or about 17,000 feet above sea level – the temperature then rises to the mid-20s as runners descend 1738m to the finish line.
“I’ve been trying to get out at least three times a week which is not that easy once you get out in the snow,” 37-year-old O’Malley says.
Hardman, who’s shouting the event to himself for a 60th birthday present, says: “I’m trying to get as hard as I can”.
“I’m not bothered about whether I’m running, walking or scrambling – it’s all about time on my feet as I’m seriously expecting to come last.”
Both runners say the greatest challenge is the 15-day trek to the starting line, during which many in the 70-strong field are expected to pull out with altitude sickness.
“The hardest part is getting to the start,” Hardman says.
Both runners are also fundraising – Hardman for Cure Kids, which funds research into life-threatening children’s illnesses, and O’Malley for Jigsaw Central Lakes, formerly the Wakatipu Abuse Prevention Network.
A race condition is that half the money raised goes to Everest Marathon Fund for charities supporting health and education projects in rural Nepal.
Hardman – who only took up competitive running three years ago – hopes to raise at least $10,000.
Hardman is canvassing donations at www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/everestmarathon