Having run a marathon in Antarctica in minus-49oC conditions and sweated his way to victory in a race in South Africa amid 52oC heat, extreme marathon runner Tommy Chen (陳彥博) has been undergoing intensive training to prepare for his next challenge — braving a temperature of minus-62oC to complete a 700km run in Canada next month.
In an effort to accustom himself to the inclement weather awaiting him during the 14-day competition in the Yukon territory from Feb. 3 to Feb. 16, Chen spent four hours on Tuesday training in a giant freezer at a hypermarket chain in Taipei.
At a temperature below freezing point, Chen conducted six cycles of light and heavy weight training and demonstrated how to cook food in a hostile environment.
The Canadian race will be the second-to-last leg of Chen’s self-imposed eight-stop challenge, which will conclude with a 520km marathon in Australia in May.
Chen ran in a 100km Antarctica race in December 2010, a 250km race in South Africa in October 2011, a North Pole marathon in April 2010 and a 170km Brazil race in May last year, bringing home two silver medals and two bronzes.
Despite his experiences in extreme marathons, Chen could be facing his most formidable run to date due to the penetrating weather and enormous distance of the Canadian race.
Over its 10-year history, many competitors have failed to make it to the finish line of the Canadian race, and only four runners completed the race last year.
“Frankly, I am filled with anxiety and am not 100 percent confident that I can finish the run,” Chen said, adding that he thinks he has a 30 to 60 percent chance of crossing the finish line.
Since the race will overlap with this year’s Lunar New Year holidays from Feb. 9 to Feb. 17, Chen said he had an advance family reunion on New Year’s Eve last month.
“However, being alone during the [Lunar] New Year holidays is still pretty miserable, which is why I have decided to pack photographs of my family and my [deceased] dog Pipi in my luggage,” Chen said.