Weather officer to compete in Antarctic Marathon

  • Published
  • By Maj. Chris Hemrick
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office
Running a marathon would be enough of a challenge for most people, but an Air Force weather officer here wants to take things to the next level by competing in a marathon in Antarctica.

Maj. Michael Mills of the Headquarters Air Force Weather Plans and Requirement Division is running 160 miles a month to train for the 200-person Antarctica Marathon event scheduled for late February at Antarctica's King George Island.

Major Mills began running in September 2003 when the Air Force brought back the fitness test.

"I credit the fitness test for providing me the motivation to start running," he said. "Running has become such a big part of my life, but I try not to let it consume me. I don't run every day and my average run is around 6 miles. But without it I would not be in as good as shape as I am today."

Major Mills said he has lost 40 pounds and 7 inches off his waist since he started running.

A few months after he began a running program, he started training for the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Nine months later, in September 2004, he completed that race and caught the "marathon fever." He has completed a total of seven marathons to date, with an average time of 3.5 hours and a Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:15 in February 2006.

One day Major Mills saw publicity for the Antarctica Marathon and thought "It would be pretty awesome to run one down there," he said.

While it will be summer in the southern hemisphere, it can still be quite cold on race day, with February temperatures ranging from 0 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

"The weather down there can change dramatically. A few years ago they could not get off the ship to run the marathon. Another year they battled deep snow and 40 mph winds. My only concern for this trip has been the lack of cold weather here to train in. I was really hoping to get some cold weather runs in around here to test out some clothing, but that has not panned out this winter," he said.