Antarctica

Antarctica 
Race: Antarctica Maraton
Date: February 27th, 2010
Finish time: 5:15


 
Area: 14,000,000 km2 (overall)

280,000 km (ice free) 13,720,000 km2  (ice covered)
Permanent Population: 0
Countries: 8 official territorial claims


The race was as difficult as I had imagined, and then some. At the race briefing last night they let us know that the glacier was unsafe for running, so we'd be doing a double out and back-course and then running the first leg a third time.
I woke up early on race morning and wished desperately for a cup of coffee and that wasn't made with salt water. But alas it wasn't to be. So I didn't get my usual cup of coffee, but I did get my peanut butter and toast. I then went back to the cabin to get race ready. I knew the weather could change a lot during the course of the race, so I wore a lot of layers. Then it was time to line up and go ashore in the zodiacs.



It was windy and sleeting at the start. The "bathrooms" were these lovely little boat heads inside a little pop-up tent. Except the wind kept blowing the tent away, leaving the person on the toilet totally exposed! There was no shelter, other than an old Russian boat on the shore so we were glad it was a small group and we could start quickly.



We started at the Russian base, Bellingshausen, and ran out to the Chinese base. There was a series of small hills and then one really long steep hill. The hardest part was the 2 miles closest to China where the road surface was very soft and pebbly. It was like running through deep sand littered with big rocks that seemed determined to roll my ankle.




We then ran back to Bellinghausen and headed towards the Uruguanian base. The hills in this part, made the hills in the first seem like molehills. This is also where the wind was the most brutal. It was a steady 20 knots all day, with gusts of up to 30.



We had been warned about mud, and they were't kidding. Climbing up the hills I was sliding back in the mud, and a couple times sunk up to my knees! I think my shoes were about 10 pounds heavier by the end of the race because they were so filled with mud and water! I think they are beyond hope, so they went straight into the recycle bin on the boat. Coming back through Bellinghausen it was hard to run by the turn-off for the half-marathon. I was more tired at this point than I have ever been in a marathon, and seriously considered stopping. BUT, I didn't come all this way and struggle through a brutal winter just to run a half! I've been told the scenery was fantastic, and the few times I looked it was. The rugged mountains rose up over the ocean, which was a brilliant blue, especially when the sun came out. The glaciers were nested in the valleys of the hills. I heard that there were seals and penguins too. I was too busy looking at my feet, so the only wild-life I saw were the dead penguin and squid carcasses that were on the course.


Luckily, I wasn't bothered my the skuas. I wore a bright yellow jacket to make it clear I was not a giant penguin. But some people were dived bombed frequently, and one person ended up with a bleed scalp wound!



I didn't think it was that cold, but when I tried to take a bite of my power-bar, it was frozen solid. So, I didn't have anything to eat after 14 miles. I crossed the finish line in 5:15, with just enough left in me to cartwheel across the finish. I think I was the fifth woman to finish, which says something about the difficulty of the course. Kiersten Pfeifer you are an Antarctic Marathoner!


Staying on my feet long enough to walk to the zodiac was a challenge. We are now on the boat heading towards the Antarctic peninsula and the sun is bright at 6 pm. It also sounds like there is quite a social scene in the bar, but I can't quite get myself up off the bed to check it out!




All my pictures from Antarctica are now on Snapfish. Here are the snapfish links:
Buenos Aires and Colonia
Ushuaia and Boarding the Boat
Aitcho Islands
Race Day
Cuverville Island
Neko Harbor, Paradise Bay, Port Lockroy
Lemaire and Peterman
The Drake, The Polar Plunge, and the End

Our Route and Itinerary
February 19- Nancy leaves Southport Island, ME and drives to Kier's in Framingham, MA.

February 20 - Early morning bootcamp (surprise Nancy!) before we leave Boston and fly to Miami where we board an overnight flight to Buenos Aires.

February 21 - Arrive in Buenos Aires and head to the hotel. We have the day to explore before joining the group for a training run in late afternoon. I expect much of the day will be spent searching for the best almond pastries in the city.

February 22 - We join the group for a city tour of the vibrant capital of Argentina. In the evening, there is another training run followed by a cocktail reception, race check-in and welcome banquet and briefing.

February 23 - Another day free to explore Buenos Aires.

February 24 - Early morning as we leave the hotel at 7 am for the flight to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, the world's southernmost city. After arriving, we have the afternoon to explore the town before boarding the ship at 4:30pm. After boarding there is a welcome reception and briefing on shipboard safety. Evening film, Ice Birds.

February 25-26 - Days at sea crossing the Beagle Channel and Drake Passage. The open bridge policy invites everyone to get a bird's eye view of the navigational activity alongside the Captain and his crew. Videos and lectures will introduce us to the wildlife, climate and history of Antarctica.

February 27 - Land Ho! We drop the race operations crew on King George for a day of race preparation. The weather will be our master as we spend a couple of days cruising in and among the bays and channels of the Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. The ship's Zodiacs will carry us to shore wherever possible, weaving safely among the icebergs and floes to visit with seals and penguins.

February 28 - Race Day! The course has been prepared with flags and mileage markers. Hopefully, Mother Nature will be kind with the weather. The race will start about 09:00. Post-Race Party and celebration during the evening.

March 1 - We head south toward the eastern side of the Peninsula, cruising among the fjords and islands. Weaving among the icebergs, our destination is Paradise Bay, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. A sunny afternoon will permit us to have a barbecue and race awards ceremony on the aft deck. The zodiacs will bring us to shore for a visit to the vacated Argentinian base nestled at the base of a hill where visitors are welcome to climb to the peak for a bird's eye view of the area.

March 2-3 - We will probably find ourselves in the fjords near the Lemaire Channel where humpbacks cruise for krill. We leave the "White Continent" to re-cross the Drake Passage.

March 4-5 - We spend two days at sea on our return voyage hoping for calm seas to glory in the memory of accomplishing a life-changing experience. We first sight land at Cape Horn, Chile where we will approach our return port at Ushuaia.

March 6 - This morning will find us in Ushuaia at about 8:00am when we disembark and check-in for our return flights to Buenos Aires.

March 7- After an over-night flight (but in first class this time, thank you frequent flier miles!) we arrive back in Boston.

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