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(Reuters) - Wrapped up warmly with layers of clothing, gloves, hats and goggles, the runners await the blasting siren marking the start of the race before heading off onto the barren track. Ahead of them, snow, ice and freezing temperatures for one of the most unique runs in the world - the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Some 50 runners from around the world took part in the event last week, taking on a marked course of 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles) at Union Glacier, Antarctica for what organizers say is "the southernmost marathon on earth". The South Pole was only a few hundred miles (km) away. Ireland's Gary Thornton won the men's race with a time of 3:37.13 hours, while Poland's Joanna Medras triumphed amongst the women runners with a time of 6:01.45 hours. "It was really tough. Well, it shouldn't have been but I don't know why, it just was," Thornton said after the race. "I maybe over-heated a bit on the first lap. But it's good." (Writing by Reuters Television and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Tom Heneghan)