Due to the fact that we are the 2nd most remote inhabited island in the world (after sister island Tristan da Cunha) but also reasonably sized with more facilties and activites Saint Helena can lay claim to being the remotest at a lot of things. We have the world’s most remote golf course, distillery, cricket team etc etc. When we have activities they also become the world’s most remote event. Currently we are in the middle of our festival of running and with this comes more claims, the main one being the world’s most remote marathon. In addition to this we have been looking into a further claim, that of the world’s toughest or most arduous marathon. In making this claim I think we need to be quite clear about what we mean. We’re talking about a proper marathon here, like the London marathon or the one at the olympics. Nothing extreme like it being 125 miles (which surely means its not a marathon anyway) or running on sand. A proper marathon of 26 miles 385 yards and run on roads.
The reason that St Helena can make this claim is because there is pretty much nowhere on the island that is flat. The island is basically two volcanoes merged together over millions of years. Formed by the Mid Atlantic Ridge it is 10 x 5 miles and at its highest point it rises up to 800 meters out of the ocean. From sea level it rises up to Diana’s Peak in the centre but this does not tell the full story. There isn’t just a simple climb, there are valleys and hills meaning that the island is constantly rising and dropping and even walking can be fun but arduous. Take this kind of geography and then try to map a 26 mile road race on to it. It’s not an easy task at all. Then actually running it is as energy sapping as you can possibly imagine. It has been calculated that the accumultive climb is 7,700ft. To put this in perspetive that is nearly twice the height of Ben Nevis and nearly 4 times the distance of the walk from Fort William to the top of Ben Nevis. So think about running from Fort William to the top of Ben Nevis and back down again, and then doing this TWICE and you can start to get the picture of how tought this marathon is. If any one knows of a tougher one in the world then I would love to here from you.
Perhaps unsurprisngly there were only two entrants for the race, Ben Hathway and Hannah, both completed the course and Hannah clocked a time of 6 hours and 12 minutes which is incredibly impressive. Being able to claim that you have completed the world’s most remote marathon is good bragging rights. Hopefully once the airport opens up and it no longer takes a week to get here we might see more runners coming over to take part in such an extreme event.
NB.As you might have guessed I didn’t enter. I did however have a lovely coffee at the wharf waiting for Hannah to finish. Much more my style. I am however going to enter the Ladder challenge later in the week. I have been climbing the ladder very day after work for a few months now and have got my time under 20mins for the 600ft climb using 699 steps. The record is 5 mins so I still have some way to go!!