11/26/2013 11:24 EST | Updated 01/26/2014 05:59 EST

Churchill marathon pits runners against sub-Arctic cold

Some marathoners took "extreme" running to a new level last week, braving the sub-Arctic cold and avoiding polar bears while running the full 42.2 kilometres in Churchill, Man.

The second annual Polar Bear Marathon took place on Nov. 22, attracting about a dozen marathon runners from around the world to the rocky and snow-swept shores of Hudson Bay for a unique challenge.

"We wanted to do something different, something challenging … it will be very cold," marathon organizer Albert Martens said before the event.

As the runners prepared to chase the rising northern sun on race morning, the temperature outside felt like –38 C with the windchill.

Each marathon participant was assigned a support vehicle that provided safe haven from the cold and protection from hungry polar bears.

Sven Henkes of Berlin came in first place with a time of four hours and 12 minutes and was greeted by a polar bear — that is, someone in a polar bear costume.

"It was the sixteenth marathon I've done, but absolutely the hardest one," Henkes said after crossing the finish line.

Clad in parkas and ski pants, the Polar Bear Marathon runners weren't seeking any speed records, but focused more on beating the elements.

"It's an adventure to test your body, to see how well you can do your endurance," said James Buhler, who came in second place.

Click on the video player above to watch the full report from the CBC's Cameron MacIntosh.