Updated: 04/25/2014 5:53 PM
Created: 04/25/2014 5:11 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson
A Duluth woman is back from standing on top of the world. Pam Solberg-Tapper finished the North Pole Marathon in just under 10 hours. She is now the 17th woman in the world to run a marathon on all seven continents and now the North Pole.
In the marathon world, that's called a Grand Slam.
The first time Eyewitness News introduced the Northland to Solberg-Tapper, 60, she was busy training around Pike Lake with one goal in mind.
"I cannot wait to stand on top of the world,"she told Eyewitness News on March 21.
Now, a month later, she sits comfortably in her Canal Park office with her mission accomplished.
"You were really isolated in this pristine, harsh, cold environment," she said.
Pam flew to the North Pole for 48 hours. She, along with 47 others taking on the North Pole Marathon, stayed at the Russian base camp there. They were surrounded by ice and it was light around the clock. Pam said it was surreal.
"The terrain is very harsh and pristine, a lot of ice shards sticking up all over. But it was sobering to me because I felt like a speck, I felt like a speck in the universe," said Solberg-Tapper.
She said race day was cold. The temperature dipped to -35, the wind was sharp, and the snow was deep.
Guards also protected the runners from possible polar bears.
"Some people were pulled off the course because of frost bite or hypothermia...lots of people fell down, a lot banged their knees on the ice," she explained.
She thanks the long, frigid Northland winter for helping her train. It allowed her to test out all of her gear. On bottom she wore four layers and on top she wore five.
Given the harsh conditions, it took Solberg-Tapper about twice as long as it usually does to finish a marathon, but she said not finishing just wasn't an option.
"It was only almost just 10 hours, 10 hours out of my entire life! I thought, 'wow, you better be present because you probably aren't going to do this again,'"she said.
When she crossed the finish line, Solberg-Tapper calls it transformative.
Now that she has achieved her Grand Slam, Solberg-Tapper hopes to inspire others, because as she says, "we can all do great things."
When she isn't training for an adventure marathon, Solberg-Tapper is an executive coach in Duluth.
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