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Ultra-Marathoner Finishes First-Ever Pole-to-Pole Run

The sun sets on a frozen continent. (Image credit: Glenn Grant, National Science Foundation.)

An Australian runner has completed the first-ever run from the top of the world to the bottom.

Pat Farmer, a 48-year-old former member of the Australian House of Representatives, battled injuries and brutal weather to become the first person to run from the North Pole to the South Pole. Farmer has run more than 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometers) with no off days since leaving the North Pole April 2. Farmer averaged two marathons per day — a marathon is 26.2 miles (42 km) — for much of the journey. Those long-mileage days have changed him physically. Farmer is now 22 pounds (10 kilograms) lighter than when he started, and he's still got thousands of miles to go on his journey.

Other's have circumnavigated the globe, but Farmer is the first to run pole-to-pole.

"This run will take a toll on my body for as long as I live," Farmer said to his support staff Wednesday (Jan. 18), reported the Sydney Morning Herald. Farmer planted a Red Cross flag at the South Pole.

To celebrate, Farmer popped a bottle of champagne and soaked his feet in a hot bath.

Despite successfully running to Antarctica, Farmer wasn't sure that he would be able to finish. Just 8 miles (12.8 km) from his finish line, a snowstorm created whiteout conditions and his support team was unable to see their path. One misstep and the crew could have been stuck in deep crevasses.

As impressive as his journey has been, he's not actually finished running. Friday (Jan. 20), just a day after reaching the South Pole, Palmer will fly to Chile and run another 1,500 miles (2,500 km) through Argentina to officially complete his run.

The Pole-to-Pole run was staged in five segments: the Arctic (North Pole to Ward Hunt Island, Canada); Canada to Panama (Radisson, Quebec, via the United States, Mexico, Central America and Southern Panama); Darien Jungle (Southern Panama to Northern Colombia), South America (Northern Colombia to Tierra Del Fuego), and Antarctica (Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole).

Farmer's journey raised more than $100,000 for Red Cross water and sanitation projects.

Farmer also holds the world record for fastest trek around Australia — 9,300 miles (15,000 km) in 191 days.

You can follow OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel on Twitter: @btisrael. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.