And now a Scottish doctor has won the first Genghis Khan Ice Marathon in freezing brutal conditions of minus 34C in Outer Mongolia. Dr Andrew Murray, 35, from Edinburgh, completed the men’s gruelling 26.2 mile (42km) marathon in 3 hours 7 minutes – and then decided to see more of the remote county for fun by running 64 miles (104kms) to the capital city of Ulan Batar on a route used by Genghis Khan centuries ago.
Sustained by Jelly Babies kept warm in his gloves, Dr Murray finished ahead of Douglas Wilson of Australia in second place with a time of 3 hours 42 minutes while third place went to Paul Dunstan of England at 4 hours and 12 minutes.
He was competing last week to raise money for charities including the Scottish Association of Mental Health and Riding for the Disabled. Legacy work in Mongolia will see the building of gers (homes) for needy families and provide a number of scholarships.
Dr Murray, a sports and exercise doctor with the University of Edinburgh, added the title to his wins in the North Pole Marathon, and the Antarctic Ice Marathon.
Describing the challenge he said: “We were expecting minus 40, and there was virtually no wind which made it feel a bit colder than Antarctica, but a little warmer than the North Pole when I raced there.
“I was wearing special ice shoes with spikes because for the majority of the time we were on frozen ice on the Tuul River. It was frozen over but I could hear it splintering and cracking up beneath me.
“To me, running is a way of exploring, a form of transport and a way of seeing the world. While I concentrated on not getting lost I was also enjoying the incredible Mongolian people I met.”
Dr Murray added: “The Mongolians really ‘got it’. They are a very hardy bunch, a nomadic people. In January and February, the coldest months, they tend to ‘re-group’ so were fascinated by what we were doing, moving so far and fast in winter.”
Lucja Leonard, 37, general manager at the Crowne Plaza Edinburgh Royal Terrace Hotel, won the women’s section of the race in 4 hours 19 mins.
Ms Leonard, a Dutch-born Australian, represented Australia and the UK.