An article written by Gerry Blathwayt, Ottawa runner of the 2019 Polar Bear Marathon

The Polar Bear Marathon in Churchill Manitoba was a race I first heard about when visiting the States in 2013 to run a race.  Another Canadian saw me in the kit pick up line with a maple leaf on my shirt and told me about the race of all races with polar bears.  I put that thought on the back burner and it resurfaced in the late winter of this year.

Training for the half marathon was just like any other race but preparing to go to a region of the sub arctic, where weather can be unpredictable is something completely different.  How to train?  What to bring? What weather conditions to expect?  

The weather was completely in our favour this year.  In fact, is was a balmy -5oC with a windchill of -9oC.  The town of Churchill opened their arms and hearts to a group of runners from different areas of Canada.

The distances are a half, full and ultra marathon with a total of 17 participants. Runners were supportive of each other with high fives as we passed each other on the route.  We ran along Hudson Bay, an area that is ripe with history in Canada for shipping and trading.  We had our own personal volunteer that drove along as we ran and carried our supplies and ensured that we were safe. To see the beautiful bay, the treeline, wolves, foxes and arctic birds is a wonder to behold.

Albert Martens organized the race, transportation, awards dinner party and the volunteers.  We were treated to the choir from the local school and they sang of their Bannock making bannock sandwiches and how we need more Alberts in this world,  

We met with staff at a research centre that support researchers that are studying our precious polar bears.

I thought it was a once in a lifetime journey and race.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.

Thank you to Churchill

Gerry Blathwayt

November 2019