Like the mountain climbers who first scaled Mt. Everest, Commack Middle School teacher Chris Boundy is heading to Antarctica to run a marathon for a simple reason: because it is there.
To many, Boundy, 43, of Coram, has virtually done it all. He’s balanced a 20-year teaching career with running 135 marathons. He has run marathons across all 50 states and 22 countries on six continents — all except Antarctica.
On Tuesday, he was teaching his eighth-grade U.S. history students about the seven continents. Next week he plans to conquer Antarctica as the last continent on his list. He is always looking to his next goal, but remains modest about his achievements.
“I wanted to do Antarctica now in case I get injured. I want that out of the way and get that goal done,” Boundy said. “Anything else would be added on and I’ll still be running. I don’t like to show off.”
Boundy will teach Thursday before boarding a flight that night from Kennedy Airport and bound for Chile. He also must pass two COVID-19 tests. Assuming he passes and weather permitting, he'll take a flight Monday to the Union Glacier camp, southwest of the Antarctic Peninsula. He is scheduled to join 55 other runners from around the world for the Antarctic Ice Marathon on Dec. 13.
“I know I’m crazy,” said Boundy, who will set off on the 26.2-mile marathon amid snow and temperatures of between minus 10 and minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It’s all different levels of crazy. People ask, how do you run in that? It’s a mental thing if I don’t have a marathon to train for. … My students think it’s impressive and crazy at the same time.”
Commack Middle School Principal Michael Larson said the trip fits the school’s mission to promote "international-mindedness."
“We’re beyond proud of Chris. There have been less than 400 people to accomplish this feat and he’s a tremendously gifted educator and runner,” Larson said. “It teaches kids [that] if they remain dedicated and put in the time, they can achieve unbelievable goals.”
Boundy said he started running a few miles a week about 17 years ago to lose weight. He was going to graduate school and was working two jobs, but sometimes gave in if he was tired or the weather got too cold. Then he signed up for his first race: the 2005 New York City Marathon.
“We always have an excuse, but once you sign up for a marathon, there’s no slacking off,” he said.
One marathon wasn’t enough. He ran the Long Island Marathon in 2007, and in 2011, discovered the 50-state marathon club.
Boundy now runs about 40 miles a week and does a marathon about once a month. He passed his 100-marathon mark in 2018 and completed running in all 50 states within five years.
He went to Vietnam in April to run in a marathon in Ho Chi Minh City and said his travels have given him a better understanding of history to relay during his lessons to students.
Boundy has tried to avoid getting overconfident about his trip to Antarctica, which could still be jeopardized if a storm delays or cancels the marathon.
If all goes as planned, he will be subject to an equipment check, with cold weather clothing covering just about every inch of his skin, including multiple layers from head to toe.
There’s little he can do to train or prepare for the Antarctic conditions, Boundy said. Since he will run on a snowy course, he was advised to prepare by running on sand, such as at Connetquot River State Park.
“I’ve run in some cold before, but nothing like this. There’s really nothing I can do except normal training,” Boundy said. “I generally don’t run in a lot of snow on the ground. I still try to go somewhere where paths are clear, but it’s nothing compared to Antarctica. I generally do OK in the cold, but not 20 below.”