Gold Coast runner Natalie Arnold headed to Antarctica to complete marathon on seventh continent
Connor O’Brien, @obrien_GCB, Gold Coast Bulletin
December 7, 2018 11:40am
NATALIE Arnold will head to Antarctica on Tuesday to finish her mission of running a marathon on each of the world’s seven continents, just days after her 30th birthday.
It’s been a twisting path to the remarkable milestone for the Gold Coaster, who admits her feats have stunned even those closest to her.
“I had never run more than 3km before I was 22,” Arnold said.
“I was never really an athletic person growing up. My Mum and Dad are very surprised with these endeavours because they wouldn’t be able to get me out of bed to go to cross-country as a kid.”
As a sport project manager, it was through her work on the 2012 London Olympics that she became inspired to get active – and there was soon no turning back.
Arnold ran her first marathon in 2011 in Amsterdam. Before she knew it, her event tally was in double digits, also including destinations such as Melbourne and Hawaii.
“I thought you know what? It’s my goal to run on all continents,” she recalled.
Her motivation only grew stronger after a major hurdle was placed before her three years ago.
“I was cycling in London when I was living there and I had quite a severe accident,” she said.
“I got hit by a car and I actually went over the car and split my helmet in two.
“I was in hospital for a little while and had a bit of a rehabilitation program and I remember thinking to myself that if I can walk again, I am going to complete all seven (continents).”
Between then and working on the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, she ticked off Asia (Angkor Wat, Cambodia) and Africa (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe).
Natalie Arnold running in the Curacao Marathon.
She then booked a trip to complete the South America and Antarctica components – she had spent five years on a waiting list for the latter – only to have to extend the journey into North America after being told by the Seven Continents Club that Hawaii was too far off the mainland to be counted.
Thus, her itinerary has taken her to run in Santa Clarita, California, last month, the South American island of Curacao last week, and now to Antarctica for what will be her 18th marathon.
She is scheduled to fly out from southern Chile on Tuesday, after which the timeline is less certain.
“What happens is depending on the conditions, we can get as much as eight to 12 hours’ notice as soon as we land,” Arnold said.
Natalie Arnold in Santa Clarita, California.
“If the conditions are good we will run straightaway but if not, we can be there for days or weeks.”
She hopes to be home in time for Christmas but knows there is a steep task first in freezing cold conditions.
“It’s probably something that I am getting more and more nervous about, particularly because the last seven or eight weeks I have been running in climates of 35 to 45 degrees,” she said.
“The way that I am looking at it is I have just got to have confidence in my ability and I am going to start slow and try to keep that pace going for all of the way through and not peak too early.”
Arnold, who trains with former Titans NRL player Mat Rogers’ running group the Rat Pack, is more than halfway to her goal of raising $7000 for 4 ASD Kids.