The first Filipino to finish the North Pole Marathon, the world's "coolest" marathon, was Victor Consunji.
He finished the 42.195-kilometer run over hard snow or the frozen ice of the Arctic Ocean in April.
It's Official! North Pole Marathon done! We braved -30C temperatures, threat of polar bears, threat of hypothermia and frostbite, delays due to unstable ice flows, in one of the most dangerous, inhospitable, and inaccessible places on the planet. Nature threw so many curveballs, we nearly never got to race, and we were practically stranded on the Pole for several days! #10TenWouldDoItAgain #WhenYouCantChangeYourClothesBecauseItsFrozenSolidOnYou #FirstFilipinoToRunTheNorthPoleMarathon #JustCallMeIceman #PinoyConHielo #NorthPoleMarathon #LuckyNumber13 #ThatFlagHasSeenThings #OpenAirToilet #NeedISayMore #PolarBrrrr #YesTheGearMakesMeFeelLikeASuperHero
The 38-year-old Victor is known as a construction and real-estate magnate in the business circle and the husband of former beauty queen Maggie Wilson in the showbiz industry.
He told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), "Most people who like this kind of thing are very challenge-driven or, shall we say, they like pushing themselves to the limit, they like the feeling of achievement.
"So if you start running and do your first five kilometers, your first 5k, happy ka.
"Your next 5K is like a walk in the park. Your first 10K, happy again.
"Your next 10K, you don’t really care. You do your first half marathon, then you're happy.
"Your next half marathon, okay lang.
"You do your half marathon, then you’re happy again.
"From there, your next question again, 'Okay, maybe I’ll do a major marathon. Maybe, Tokyo, New York, or whatever.'"
Ironman Thailand, November 27, 2016
Ironman Barcelona, October 1, 2016
New York City Marathon, November 1, 2015
For Victor, running has become an adventure, and after every race, his next question is "where do I go from there?"
So he has done "extreme marathon, some trail running, maybe an ultra."
The businessman continued, "In my case, it’s just so happened that I ended up on the most extreme of extreme marathons, which is the North Pole."
"Nag-Tokyo Marathon na ako, New York Marathon.
"I’m trying to do kasi something called the Seven Continents Club which is a very small club of runners that have run a major marathon on every continent.
"Actually, the ultimate club that I wanna get in is called the Grand Slam Club.
"That's comprised of runners who have ran and completed a major marathon on every continent, including Antarctica and North Pole.
"So, in history, there have been less than 200 people who have ever done that.
"I still have to complete Antarctica which will happen soon.
"I still have to complete Africa and complete South America for me to be able to get in that club, all 42k.”
PEP had the chance to interview Victor last month at his home with Maggie and their son Conor in Acacia Estates, Taguig City.
RUNNING IN THE COLD. How hard was it to complete the race?
"To begin with, negative 30 degrees at least yung temperature.
"Second, you're not running on land. You're running on frozen ocean.
"In some parts, it’s ice. Some parts, it's snow as deep as your knees.
"There’s also the threat of Polar bears.
“And of course, if anything goes wrong, you're under severe threat of hypothermia.
"There’s no medical evacuation. There’s no civilization for hundreds of miles around.
"It’s not like you can just fly a helicopter there. It’s beyond the reach of most reasonable transport."
DANGERS. There was no medical team?
“There are medical doctors there care of the Russian operators of the camp.
"There’s a scientific camp comprised of scientists, soldiers, medical doctors, and also the organizers of North Pole marathon. They bring a doctor with them as well.
“When hell freezes over, it's almost the right way to describe it, mahirap.
"It’s not just about running, e.
"The biggest issue you have in running a marathon, if you run too hard and your sweat denses and it turns into ice.
"You get hypothermia.
“You stop running, your core temperature goes down, you get hypothermia.
"If you don’t dress correctly, you get frostbite. Even the corneas [eyes] or your corneas can freeze in this temperature.
"So, it’s difficult. You have to be ready both medically and physically.”
According to MayoClinic.org, "Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature."
CELEBRITY RUNNERS. This writer mentioned Piolo Pascual, Anne Curtis, Kim Atienza who are into marathons.
Do they have what it takes to join the North Pole?
Victor replied, “Physically, yes, kaya nila.
"The question is in your heart. You wanna test your mettle, di ba?
"The question is: are you willing to go and do this?
“For example, if one of them wanted to do the North Pole, at least, they know what they could ask me about.
"I could easily advise them what to wear, what to eat, what to expect.”
But despite his vast experience, he was quick to say that mentoring is "not my line of work," but he can give some pointers.
"...My point is, if they did want to do it, there’s someone who they can actually ask.
"During the time that I did it, I had no one to ask.
"I asked the advice of some doctors and other extreme athletes, but nobody I knew that literally had run for that course.
“It’s a little scary to do the unknown. It’s not like heading to Sweden where if something goes wrong, you can easily fly back.
“Here, there is no fly back. It’s either you're in it or you're not.
“So if something goes wrong that requires some sort of extreme medical assistance, you're looking at best, even if they do get on a plane back to Norway, it’s going to take three hours.
"If the plane is even there.
"If it’s not there, there is no way that they’re getting you back. And hypothermia is no joke.
“If cracks opens up, you fall in Arctic Ocean.”
MORE MARATHONS TO RUN. Victor's next goal is finish the Marakesh Marathon in Morocco.
Next year, he will join MdS or Marathon Des Sables, which is dubbed the "Toughest Footrace on Earth" in Merzouga, Morocco.
He added, "It’s a 250-kilometer marathon across Sahara desert and then Antarctica in 2017 November."