Plus to Minus 30

€6,386 of €100,000 goal

Raised by 115 people in 5 months
Created March 15, 2019
Two amateur runners from the tropical country of Singapore – Andrea and Tom – will embark on a 42km running challenge at the North Pole on April 9, 2019. This is part of the official North Pole Marathon event, which has been taking place annually since 2002.
Apart from the distance itself, the biggest challenge will be going from a temperature of PLUS 30°C to MINUS 30°C, as they trade Singapore’s equatorial heat for the Arctic’s freezing conditions.

Their greater aim is to raise money for three selected charities: Make-A-Wish, Direct Relief and Runninghour. You can read more about these below.


Your donations will go to:
- MAKE-A-WISH: a global organization that fulfills the wishes of critically ill children
- DIRECT RELIEF: a charity that provides aid when natural disasters occur around the world
- RUNNINGHOUR: a community in Singapore promoting integration of people with special needs through running

Follow the buttons on the right (PCs/tablets) or on the top (smartphones) to help them reach the fundraising goal. Donations will be split across the three causes but, if you wish to support just a single organization, you can also indicate that in your comment.

Delivering your children’s letters to the North Pole
It’s not every day you get to pay a visit to the North Pole. And in the spirit of ‘make-a-wish’, Tom and Andrea would like to make some festive wishes come true by delivering Christmas wish-lists and letters to the North Pole! For info and enquiries, please contact us by clicking on the icon ✉ on the right by April 7.


Our challenge only brings the opportunity. Through donations, you do the magic.

Thanks for the warm support.
Andrea & Tom
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The race is on hold for the ice-cold marathon runners

​​​​​Two Singapore-based DHL Express employees, Tom Hennessy and Andrea Bonanomi, were ready to take part in one of the world’s most challenging running events, the North Pole Marathon. Due to circumstances beyond their control the race never even got started, but despite this they have set new goals to continue their fundraising efforts.

Tom Hennessy, VP Global SOP and Service Improvement and Andrea Bonanomi, Regional Program Manager APeC, had completed their training, set up their fundraising website, packed their bags and even collected letters from colleagues’ kids to deliver to Santa’s home at the North Pole. But on arriving at the small airport of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Norway on the evening of April 6, events started unfolding in a very different way from what they had imagined for this initiative, which they had named ‘Plus to Minus 30°C’.

First, their luggage didn’t arrive. “Our bags, along with the six-foot DHL flag we’d brought along, simply didn’t turn up on the carousel. As the belt slowed down to an eventual bag-less stop, we realized our luggage wasn’t coming,” said Tom.

Bad weather and logistical issues

The North Pole Marathon takes place on an ice floe near to the geographical North Pole and the runners needed to catch a flight to the base camp at the event location. After spending 48 hours in the same clothes, the pair arrived for a briefing by the marathon organizers only to be told that “logistical issues” and bad weather would mean a flight delay of 48-72 hours. There was nothing to do but wait.

Tom’s bags were delivered a day later but Andrea was still stuck in his Singapore work shirt. A second briefing from the marathon organizers revealed that even though the weather had improved, a growing dispute between the Russian and Ukraine crews regarding landing permission on the ice floe where the marathon was to be staged meant further delays could be expected.

Keeping busy with the huskies

A new race date for April 16 was announced and some runners started making arrangements to fly home and return for race day. With new skiers, walkers and ice tourists still arriving, accommodation was getting tight in Svalbard and the organizers were trying to acquire mattresses for people to sleep on in community halls.

To keep themselves busy, Andrea and Tom spent an afternoon dog-sledding with six arctic huskies, which proved to be one of the highlights of their stay. “Racing across the crisp snow was a fantastic experience,” says Andrea.

Finally, after days of uncertainty and hope, the event organizers confirmed that they wouldn’t be able to get the runners to the base camp at the North Pole due to political tensions.

Ready for next year's race

Andrea and Tom were “absolutely gutted” but they weren’t to be put off. The pair are now ready and prepared to take part in next year’s North Pole Marathon and have already secured two slots for the race.

In the meantime, they will continue raising funds for three different charities (see box below) and plan to continue their running challenge with two additional marathons in 2019 in Singapore: a midnight run in June before the end-of-year December race.

“Now that we’ve been to the Arctic and back, our initiative is more like ‘Plus to Minus 30 and back again’,” jokes Tom. “We’ve come back from the cold to now run two marathons in the Singapore heat.”

Delivering to Santa

Despite the circumstances surrounding the North Pole race, the two runners still managed to demonstrate the DHL Passion and Can Do spirit and keep the promises they made to deliver the many ‘Dear Santa’ Letters they had collected from across the world, ranging from Brisbane to New York. With no chance of getting further north, they arranged for ‘someone special’ to come down south for a very special delivery! Santa himself received the letters personally and stamped each one with a magic stamp to confirm receipt.
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"It's Over Longyearbyen, Svalbard It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you all that the 2019 North Pole season has been cancelled by the team that operates Barneo, the temporary ice camp near the North Pole. After suffering nearly 10 days of delays due to political wrangling for planes between Russia and the Ukraine, the final straw was that the back up plan failed as well. Because we could no longer count on the use of an Antonov 74 for the season, a Basler (DC-3) was contracted from the Canadian company Kenn Borek. The crew successfully made the long fight via the ice camp at Barneo to Longyearbyen with little or no problems. However, due to unstable weather in Longyearbyen, the Basler would not be able to fly for several days, impacting future flying operations (and safety) for skiers potentially on the ice. It's a perfectly logical decision, and in one sense, a relief."

Those the words used by Eric Larsen, well-known explorer in the social media and web networks.

Here's a snippet from an article posted by The Telegraph:

Around 300 people are stranded in Svalbard, after the North Pole was closed to visitors for the first time in 18 years over tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
The seasonal camp of Barneo, from where explorers are allowed to travel to the North Pole for a brief period annually, is privately operated by Swiss and Russian entities.
But the planes due to fly adventurers to the camp, established temporarily on a floating ice cap close to the North Pole, were Ukrainian.
The camp was scheduled to open on April 1, but the Ukrainian pilots and crew were not given permission to fly, a move linked to rumbling discontent over the war in eastern Ukraine, according to local media reports.
By the time a replacement plane from Canada was scrambled, weather conditions were no longer stable enough to guarantee enough time to bring visitors to the ice floe and back.

Adventurers were stuck in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, where they were due to take off from Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost civilian airport, for their North Pole adventure. [...]
In a blog post on Friday night, polar explorer Eric Larsen, who had been due to make the expedition wrote of his disappointment: "This is a situation where everyone loses. Skiers, guides, the Barneo team each of us invested a substantial amount of time, energy and expense. It will not be easily recovered from." [...]"
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Update from the organisers:

“As you know, the marathon group was scheduled to fly yesterday, April 8th. A suitable ice flow for camp was found and a runway constructed at the North Pole on time, which is actually a major logistical feat in itself. An Antonov 74 aircraft and crew also arrived at Longyearbyen, which was our contracted transport to the North Pole (the helicopters are already up there).

Unfortunately, due to completely sudden bureaucratic reasons the plane would not fly farther north to the Pole. In response to a request for an explanation, I personally received an email today from the MD of Antonov stating that "The main factor is that the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine has imposed some very tough operating conditions prior to granting exemption to operate UR-74010 above 70 degrees latitude. Unfortunately four of these previously unannounced conditions are impossible for the airline to meet in time for your schedule and so it is with regret that we have had to withdraw our capabilities." The State Aviation Administration of Ukraine appears to have simply taken back a permit. The consensus is that there is some tension between Ukraine and Russia that spilled over into all North Pole trips whereby a Ukrainian operated plane would not fly into the area despite it being an international camp and waters. Despite numerous efforts, this situation could not be changed.

To progress with the season as quickly as possible, the logistics operators have urgently requested two Basler aircraft from Canada. The first of these aircraft will arrive in a couple of days and start to transport skiers (who have been waiting for a while) around Saturday or Sunday. These aircraft are smaller and not suitable for a group that is the marathon size. As a result, a replacement Antonov has additionally been requested (not from Ukraine!)

Marathon Date - April 16th
It is anticipated that the Antonov will arrive on Monday and the marathon flights can be conducted on Tuesday 16th, with the intention of operating the race that evening.”

No politics, no economics, no temperatures. No matter what, we will complete this venture. It doesn’t change a thing.

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No go.

Today is a no go-day, we can’t reach the North Pole and tomorrow will share the same fate.

So we had to reschedule our nutrition programs and open our survival guide in such a deserted place.
Tom (if you know him, you know I’m telling the truth) forced me and a British lady we met to join him for a run. Thermometer said -18, real feel was -22 while the organisers told us it may be -40 at the North Pole.
Anyway it was a good idea going out for a gear test: I had 2 layers of clothes, she had 3, Tom went for 4.
Halfway I realised that 2 layers were not enough and hands were cold like tasteless ice pops. First lessons:
- at this temperature snow is as hard as cement and slow down the run;
- shoes are heavier than normal as all the other gears are;
- body burns vital energies faster than your running pace is.
Lesson learned.

Next update in the next 24/48 hours.
A post filled with numbers, perhaps because our venture is based on our strength in numbers.

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Read a Previous Update

€6,386 of €100,000 goal

Raised by 115 people in 5 months
Created March 15, 2019
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