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The Boston Marathon, of course, is one of the most prestigious events you can run. But there’s another marathon, just 600 miles from the South Pole, that’s also pretty exclusive. And a Merrimack Valley man not only competed in it, he won it. Billy Hafferty loves running, and he’ll run anywhere, including the ice-covered bottom of the world. “It was the trip of a lifetime,” Hafferty told Boston 25 News.
The 32-year-old Mass Maritime graduate ran the 'Antarctic Ice Marathon’ on a glacier in December. “It was super, crazy just to be down there,” Hafferty said. And getting there was quite the experience: 60 runners from around the world met in Chile, then all flew into Antarctica on a Soviet-built, Cold War-era plane. “Landing on this ice runway there’s no brakes because you’re just skidding across the ice, the second you touch down they thrust in reverse and you’re like, ‘Oh here we go,'" he said.
Hafferty ran the marathon with one of his clients at his North Andover training center. He’s competed in more than 50 marathons, but never one so extreme in a windchill well below zero. “Wild go from ice slipping all over place to big piles of snow drifts where you’re ankle deep and you’re really soft it was like running in sand,” he said.
Just before the marathon, Billy slipped on a Hawaiian shirt and hat to motivate him a little bit, but with it came a whole lot of pressure. “So here I am making a joke out of this Hawaiian shirt, you better throw down and do your best, otherwise your kinda the joke is then on you,” he said. But Hafferty got the last laugh, smoking the field by 35 seconds, and set a course record of 3 hours 34 minutes and 12 seconds.
“I’ve run some pretty cool places but this was so other worldly, it was like you were in another world it was like a Game of Thrones stage,” he said.