Father and daughter compete in 26.2-mile Antarctic Ice Marathon – American Press
The daughter of local father John Hixson and Lauren Phillips recently completed the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Hand in hand, the two reached the finish line of the 26.2 mile race through Union Glacier, Phillip’s first marathon and the completion of the ‘Marathon on Every Continent’ goal of Hixson.
“It was a fun experience. Originally, 12 years ago, my goal was to run a marathon on every continent and I did it! Antarctica was my last… Running in Antarctica was really fun and exciting, but doing it with her (Phillips) was the real joy, ”said Hixson.
Hixson has now completed over 20 marathons. The 60-year-old started running long distances at the age of 40.
“A friend of mine said to me, ‘Do you have any hobbies?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t have one. It’s terrible. I work too much. ‘ So I said, ‘Well, I want to run a half marathon.’ And I did. And then, ‘I want to do a full marathon.’ I took the training and heard about the Seven Continents Club, a group of less than 400 people who have done this around the world.
Hixson got his daughters to run with the alluring idea of traveling the world to do so. “He said, ‘If I did, he would take me to these cool places,” ”said Phillips. “I was like fine, I love ice creams and cakes so it’s a great excuse to eat more!” It’s great because we were traveling as a family and then we were running as a family.
Antarctica was Phillips’ fourth continent to run on and his first full marathon. “He’s finishing his trip and I’m just getting started. Now he’s getting to come, ”she said.
Training for Antarctica has some similarities to training for other marathons, the two said, with a few exceptions. “Once a week you have a longer run than anything else. It starts at nine, 12, 15, 18 miles… You build gradually, ”Hixson said.
“But with that, they recommend you do it slower because the race took a lot longer. You’re running on Union Glacier, which is about a mile and a half thick of glacial ice and hundreds of miles wide and there’s snow at the top. It’s like running on loose sand.
Hixson and Phillips finished in just under seven hours, “probably two to three hours longer than it would take for a normal marathon,” he said.
But fast weather isn’t the goal or culture of the Antarctic Ice Marathon, Phillips said. “That’s the one thing we all promised ourselves: that we’re not going to ask how long it took. So each of us would walk around saying, “You’re done! ”
“Your goal was to finish because in 20 years, people are going to be asking, ‘Did you run in Antarctica? “They’re not going to ask for our time, hopefully,” she said.
The elements of Antarctica make the race both a unique challenge and an unforgettable experience. At a “hot” temperature of seven degrees, the two ran in mostly layered ski clothes that had to be put on and taken off throughout the trip, took off the frozen boots when it was all over, ran at 5 p.m. at 2:30 in the morning and taken in the vast calm of the white landscape devoid of plant or animal life.
“Let’s say you went into the woods here in southwest Louisiana. You might not hear any cars or people or anything, but you will hear the wind blowing in the trees, animals and stuff like that. You didn’t hear a thing… It’s literally breathtaking silence as you gaze out across a landscape of white. It is truly breathtaking and incredible and unlike anything I have ever seen or experienced, ”Hixson said.
Sixty participants from 21 countries completed the marathon, another unexpected joy of the trip, Phillips said. “All regions of the world, all types of languages and we all have one thing in common. It was fun to have that experience of bonding with strangers and you are able to come together and achieve a goal.
With Hixson “moving on” to the next phase of his athletic journey and Phillips planning his next races, the two smiled at each other, genuinely happy to have shared their experiences together. “It’s a real joy and especially to be in fairly good physical shape at my age,” said Hixson.
“I’m going to try to do the New York and Tokyo, Japan marathon. All my travels are going to revolve around this. But I’m going to be coaching my dad and my family this time around, ”Phillips said.