Matthew Popham. Picture: Robert Duncan/The West Australian

Matthew Popham will be among a group of hardcore West Australians testing their endurance in extreme conditions for next year's Antarctic Ice Marathon, all in the name of charity.

It is the world's southernmost marathon run over a 42.2km course 80 degrees south at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains - a few hundred kilometres from the South Pole.

Competitors will have to contend with average temperatures of about minus 20C with possible strong winds at an altitude of 700m.

They will self-fund the trip and hopefully raise more than $100,000 for The Telethon Adventurers.

"The reason why this appeals is that it is just so ridiculous in some respects, running around Antarctica is so out of left field," Mr Popham said.

He will be joined by workmates from KPMG in Perth and colleagues in the US, Scotland and Ireland have also shown an interest. Mr Popham said he hoped local marathon runners and triathletes would give it a go too.

His son, Ben, who has diplegic cerebral palsy, was one of the Telethon children last year.

Through Telethon, Mr Popham met patron and founding director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research Fiona Stanley and The Telethon Adventurers founder Rick Parish, both of whom inspired him to plan an adventure to raise money for research into a cure for childhood cancer.

"I wanted to do something running-based, but because it is The Telethon Adventurers, just doing a marathon wasn't enough of an adventure," Mr Popham said.

"The Arctic marathon was too daunting because there are lots of polar bears running around and there is a lot of snow.

"Antarctica, from a runner's perspective, is not too bad because it is flat and there's not too much snow, and the only thing you really need to deal with is the cold.

"You try to do something which would capture people's imagination and by doing that, you increase your chances of raising more money."

Mr Popham ran a London marathon in the late 1990s.

"I wasn't very fit but I got a huge kick out of pushing the barriers," he said.

He was looking forward to getting a similar kick out of the ice marathon next year, despite the challenges he might face.

"There will be that kind of self-satisfaction I guess when in November next year, you get to the finish line and you are cold but think 'Well, I've done it'.

"That level of achievement and satisfaction is one of those things in life that no one can take it away from you, that you've got that mental strength to do it."

An information evening about the Ice Marathon (to be run in November 2013) will be held today at KPMG's offices on Level 8 at 235 St Georges Terrace at 5.30pm. Anyone interested in participating is welcome to attend.

The West Australian

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