Friday, February 22, 2008

Heading south for the spring

John and I are getting packed up for our annual trip to Antarctica for the marathon. After the winter we've had (rough), it seems a little weird to be heading south to more cold but it is their summer so it shouldn't be too bad. Actually, it really isn't. Since it is summer down there, the temperatures are typically around 20-35 degrees Fahrenheit so it is very much like Chicago winter weather.

We fly from Chicago to Buenos Aires and hang there for a few days to allow all the runners to arrive from all over the world. There are two ships with a total of 200 runners and many are trying to complete a marathon in all seven continents. One of the best parts of this expedition is meeting all these runners. So many stories and plenty of time to get to know them.

We then fly to Ushuaia,the southernmost city in the world! It is a beautiful city with mountains everywhere and the open sea, which is the gateway to Antarctica. We board the ship (actually two ships) and sail across the most turbulent seas in the world, the Drake Passage. I get sea sick in the tub so this is not my favorite part of the journey...but well worth it otherwise I wouldn't be returning for my fourth expedition. Check it out [caution: I had to turn off the volume while watching as I got sea sick at my desk on dry land - a new record for me:]

Anyway, once we cross the dreaded Drake, the crew [that would be us] sets up the marathon course for a day while the runners go site seeing and then the marathon is the following day [if the weather permits]. Course set up is quite demanding and old school. We mark with flags and markers so we leave no trace. It is quite an event, but having a GPS makes all the difference in the world. They use to mark it with a site marker....can you imagine?

This IS one of the toughest marathons in the world for a few reasons. One, it takes 6 days to reach the start line and by the time you get there you've been through miles and miles of travel in planes, buses and a rocky ship. And B, you don't really know what the race course is going to be like...once it was hip deep snow in areas and -20 wind chill. The next time, 35 degrees F and mud over your shoes!

I have a slide show from last year. Check it out...I will update with more after we survive this year's expedition.

Until March 19th...


1 comment:

Marnee said...

So does this mean that John will not be at the Arizona Distance Classic? Uhm, isn't he supposed to be?