The Last Desert Blogs 2018

View All Posts 2018 From : Marisa Holman

Marisa Holman
Stage 3

30 November 2018 02:55 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

I always find the third stage the hardest, and indeed it was. I am writing this on Thursday morning.  We were on a 1,4km circuit yesterday very similar to stage 2-zigzag up a mini-mountain, and zigzag down. I think we were in Paradise Bay. Same as stage 2, at the start were slow going to make a trail and pack down the snow. We were told going into the day that it would be 12 hours, so mentally I was prepared for a tough day. This will sound funny, but I really do not remember much about the course. I started struggling around 8 hours in mentally and it became a bit of a slog. Oh yea, it was actually an epically gorgeous day. Lots of sun, beautiful glaciers. A very pretty spot! It was so warm I wore just my base layers for a couple of hours.


We ended up going for 9,5 hours and got back to the boat around 8pm. Had dinner at 9pm and we were told that there is bad weather coming in on Friday (our last day of running), so we were going to have another 12 hour day on Thursday (today). With just 6 hours of sleep we woke up for 5am breakfast and learned that the weather was not good enough for us to go out yet. So I went back to sleep for a bit and we are waiting news on if we can go out today-maybe around lunch time. The weather really rules here and safety always come first.


I am pretty exhausted and have some bad wind/sun burn on my face. It’s easy to think about the negatives but I keep telling myself to enjoy this experience and keep pushing hard until the end (tomorrow night).

Comments: Total (3) comments

Carlos Kumeroa

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 11:06 am

Negatives come and go my friend...experiences and memories last a lifetime. You've got this race. Keep up the strong work and always looks after yourself. Nga mihi Carlos.

Adrienne Heal

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 07:56 am

You are such an inspiration Marisa. You’ve got this covered. Look after your face on the last day; almost there now. Go girl, you are incredible, such a huge feat. Congratulations, and hugs from afar. We’re with you in spirit. Xx

Dusty Saunders

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 07:25 am

YAY! The long day done and dusted! You are just amazing! Congrats on finishing stage 03. Almost there now.
Marisa Holman
The Last Day of the Last Desert – Stage 4

29 November 2018 03:15 am (GMT-03:00) Brasilia

In the end we left the boat at 11am today (Thursday), and kicked off Stage 4 at around 12. We were told to prepare for a 7 hour day. I thought this was more wishful thinking than reality because the weather was so bad for the first 5 hours. It was exactly what you would expect of bad weather in Antarctica – cold, blizzardy snow, ice and lots of wind. My main gloves were drenched, but my hands were warm as long as I kept moving. I did change into fresh gloves about halfway through but they also became drenched quickly. I put my buff over my nose and mouth and used the hot air of my breath to keep my face warm. The trick was really to just keep moving. I did not eat or drink much during the stage because I just wanted to keep moving.


About 5 hours in we had a nice treat of a cup of hot chocolate delivered from the main boat. It was completely energizing. The weather also started to clear up and we even got a peak of the sun towards the end.


We are expecting bad weather tomorrow, so today could be our last day. Now we relax, celebrate and enjoy the ride back to Ushuaia.


Thank everyone for following along and sending so much support!

Comments: Total (6) comments

Carlos Kumeroa

Posted On: 04 Dec 2018 11:24 pm

Almost there buddy. We're there with you.

Marlena Holman

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 01:34 pm

Way to go sis!!! You’re so so close!! Sounds like you’ve had some peaks and pits, but you keep pushing through!! Sending you lots of love for this last push!

Rachel Mosher

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 12:49 pm

Way to go! What an awesome experience you are having. Thank you letting me in on it! I am proud to say I know you!

Marietjie Saunders

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 08:50 am

Hi glad to hear you are still is D-day...the very last one...make the most of it...we are all in spirit there with you...sending happy thoughts...big hugs and lots of love...keep going...almost there!!

Renee Kufner-Heal

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 08:18 am

You know what I bet you could have used in that cold? A MOOSE-MOOSE!! Seriously, so very proud of you my friend. This has been your dream almost as long as I have known you, and it's such s privilege to've seen you conquer this challenge. You are a rockstar! xo

Dusty Saunders

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 07:32 am

YES!!! You did it! There was a bit of radio silence, so I am so happy to read that you made it. Just one more to go. Enjoy it to the fullest. Super proud of you!
Marisa Holman
Penguins Have The Right Of Way

28 November 2018 04:35 am (GMT-03:00) Brasilia

Wow! First, I am so overwhelmed by all of the thoughtful messages from everyone! Thank you!


Today we ended up only running for 3.5 hours. We did not arrive to our location (Danco Island), until a bit later than expected. We are now on mainland Antarctica. On our way here we started seeing icebergs and the epic snow-covered mountains all glimmering in he sunlight.


Today we had a 3 km loop. It was 1,5km of zigzag up a mountain and 1,5km down. It was the most epic scenery by icebergs so white and piercing light blue against the navy water. On our way from the zodiac (the raft that takes us from the boat to land) to the starting point, a fin whale was right next us. It was amazing.


Danco island is filled with penguins and they were so cute and curious. We were told to give them at least 300m distance and if they were on our tracks, then we had to stop. I had to stop a couple of times to allow the curious penguins to pass. How do you not giggle when there are 4 runners waiting for a penguin to move off the course!


I really enjoyed the course today and got stronger as the day went on. The first loop was tough because we had to make the track and pack down the snow. There were lots of laughs as well when we all kept falling into the holes. It felt like a bunch of kids playing outside and just being amused by everything!


Tomorrow is supposed to be another long day so time to rest up!

Comments: Total (17) comments

Laura Centofanti

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 08:37 am

Hi Marisa ! Really impressed by what you have achieved already - Good luck for the last part ! Enjoy it and enjoy the relaxing week after too Cheers, Laura

Joanna Matkovich

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 12:28 am

Hey Marisa, Reading your blog and following your journey in Antarctica to round out the 4Deserts, I am super envious and definitely makes me miss these adventures. It sounds like you are having an amazing time and such a unique location to run in. Dusty has been keeping everyone up to date through Facebook. You appear to be having a great time out on course and so well prepared with all your gear. I bet it is such a nice change to be able to have a shower and a bed already set up at the end of each day. I suspect you do not have long to go so smash the remaining kms and enjoy every step.. even if they do become somewhat painful towards the end!! Such a super woman. Jo xox

Jamie D!

Posted On: 29 Nov 2018 08:03 pm

Wow, got chills from reading your last blog. Sounds like a pristine & magical place! Have fun with the whales & penguins, so excited to hear more! Sending strength, love, & warm thoughts from the States. XO

Jens Van de Water

Posted On: 29 Nov 2018 10:45 am

Hi Marisa, Great to follow you again on your epic adventure!! Reading your blog you're still going very strong. Keep it up! Let's make sure we catch up when you've finished and back in the NL. Would love to hear your stories on this race We're moving to the NL as well beginning of 2019, so let's schedule some time for a beer! Cheers, Jens

Louise&Laura JDE POWER

Posted On: 29 Nov 2018 08:27 am

Hello super woman! We are glad reading some news from you ... you were ready to it but it seems even above expectations :) Enjoy a maximum and take care of you. Cheers

Pete Limon

Posted On: 29 Nov 2018 12:13 am

So excited for you, this must be the race of a lifetime! That first day sounded really tough, glad you had a slightly easier day two. Hopefully the penguins don't give you much trouble!

Carlos Kumeroa

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 11:59 pm

Sounds like a kool adventure Marisa, kicking it with the local wildlife. Go Happy Feet.

Danielle Miller

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 10:01 pm

I love the “only running for 3.5 hours” comment... :-) I hope the scenery and wildlife continue to bring smiles to your epic adventure!

Ren KH

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 06:30 pm


Marlena Holman

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 05:39 pm

This sounds so fun!!! Proud of you, sis!! Stay strong!

Sandra Kwan

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 04:23 pm

I am so proud of you and your experience sounds amazing thus far! Penguin

Charles Holman

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 03:50 pm

I imagine that you are well into stage three. Have enjoyed all of your descriptive accounts of your southern hemisphere travels. The descriptive account of runners who are competing in a foot race..pausing......for penguins is probably the picture that will stick with me best and longest. Stunning landscapes with crystal clear blue water must make for your task a lot easier. For all of us who are following you, thanks you for sharing this experience with all of us. Enjoy your day and stay well, The Tucson Trio, dad, mom, and Darla

Rachel Brook

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 02:04 pm

Go Marisa! What an experience of a lifetime. Say hi to the penguins! We are cheering for you.

Marietjie Saunders

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 08:47 am

Hallooooo we can see it through your sounds absolutely amazing...what a privilege to be there...u go girl...e njoy every moment...big hugs...lots of love

Dusty Saunders

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 08:32 am

Congratulations on stage 02! You are amazing!!! Hoping that Stage 03 will bring more good times and awesome adventures.

Sara Bittner

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 08:25 am

It sounds like you are having so much fun!! Can't wait to read about the rest of your race!

Sherry Holman

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 04:53 am

I know you must be exhausted but thank you for writing the blog tonight. We have been checking every hour to see if you guys have returned to the board and if everything is going OK. It sounds absolutely incredible! Hang in there for a long day tomorrow.
Marisa Holman
Slush, slush, and more slush

26 November 2018 05:25 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

So much to say about today, so I am going to bullet point the highlights:


-we ended up out there for a bit longer than 10 hr

-I walked today and hit 42k, and 1100m of elevation

-Antarctica is beautiful, pristine, and ruthless!

-it is said that this is the hardest stage

-we actually had a 14k circuit; we had a center point and then went right for 3.5km and then came back to the center point and then we went left for 3.5km and back to the center point

-there was massive slush and people (incl. me) would fall into a snow covered hole that actually was so deep it reached a knee

-Weather changes super fast and we had blizzard conditions and harsh winds

-I got dive-bombed by a bird 2x! he/she tweeted at me and then did a clicking sound and went right at my hat not once but twice!

- I loved the circuit approach. The whole time we all gave each other high fives and words of encouragement – amazing camradrie

-my kit is fantastic. Loved my la sportiva crossovershoes, seal skin socks, goretex shell. I was never cold.

-my most favourite part of my kit are my purple ski goggles; I may have to take up skiing (or do more cold weather running races), just so I can wear the more

-today we were on king george island

-we are sailing now to our next stop an tomorrow we will start around lunch time for a half day of running


Overall I am happy today is done. I enjoyed it a lot but it was also super hard. Loving this experience!

Comments: Total (14) comments

Olivia Dahlin

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 01:52 am

Wow wow Wow!!! You are so determined and strong! I love getting to hear about your accomplishments. Each day is a new adventure! Praying for strength for you tomorrow!

Danielle Miller

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 11:30 pm

A circuit course?! I love the idea of high fives all around while you and your geared up race mates are trekking through the icy tundra. It sounds amazing! Fingers crossed for no more bird attacks. :-)

Lynn De Proft

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 08:49 pm

Yes it is that time of the year again - Marisa starting some epic race! My favorite blog of the season! All the best girl, you rock!

Marietjie Saunders

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 03:38 pm

Wow....awesome...well go the snow who's the boss...keep it up...very proud of you...lovies ⚘

Sherry Holman

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 03:19 pm

Incredible! I am so impressed and so proud of you. Hang in there! We love you.

Rachel Cloward

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 02:21 pm

Wow! Way to go Marissa. What an amazing example of drive and determination you radiate. Wishing you the best on this journey and may you continue to do your best and stay healthy and safe!

Linda Wilson

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 01:56 pm

So excited for you and this amazing adventure! I will be living through you vicariously! I be5byou have to pinch yourself that you are actually there Enjoy to the fullest.

Marlena Holman

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 10:23 am

WHAT IS IT WITH OUR FAMILY AND BIRDS ATTACKING US?! Glad you had a good first day, boof! Mom and I were talking last night and we both said “isn’t it just SO COOL that Ris is in Antarctica?! AND FOR AN ULTRA?!” Sending you so much love and hopes for good weather. Love you!!

Renee Kufner-Heal

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 08:21 am

Look at you casually smashing the longest day. Super proud of you. I always feel so inspired reading your blogs AND it is so heartwarming reading all the messages from your family and friends here. You are so loved by us all! Can't wait for the next update. xo

Sarah Pemberton

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 08:17 am

You sound in good spirits! Keep it up Marisa!!! Cheering you on and high fiving you from afar. Lots of love.

Athol Saunders

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 07:52 am

Well done M, this Father-in-Law, to-be, is very, very proud of u. Keep up the good spirit, it’s what drives the body.

Athol Saunders

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 07:52 am

Well done M, this Father-in-Law, to-be, is very, very proud of u. Keep up the good spirit, it’s what drives the body.

Carlos Kumeroa

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 07:24 am

Kia ora Marisa, oarsome to hear you're having an amazing experience. Can't wait to read more of your epic journey. You are an inspiration to us all. Be safe and have fun. Nga mihi Carlos.

Dusty Saunders

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 07:20 am

WOW! Congrats on the 42km! Keep up the good work. It sounds amazing there. Super proud of you!
Marisa Holman
Day 2 @ Sea

25 November 2018 02:09 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

Another day at sea but now all the real preperations start. This morning we learned about how to board on and off the zodiac rafts that will take us to and from the big boat and land each day. Also, because of the sensitive environment and to not introduce any foreign materials (sand, dirts, etc) we all had to vacuum (yes it is literally a vacuum with a hose!) our backpacks, outerware and drop bags. That has given us some things to do. Stiina and I just went to explore the boat and visited the captain on “the bridge” and learned a bit about all his screens and tools. It was cool! apparently the max speed we can go is about 20 km per hr.




I am feeling better today, still with a raspy voice, but have full energy which is great going into tomorrow. The plan is that we leave the big boat at 6am tomorrow and the race starts at 6:30. Tomorrow may end up being our longest day, but let’s see. The course will be the most generous length of the whole race with it being a 15k loop.




Really enjoying being at sea and am feeling super relaxed. Let’s see what I say after tomorrow!




Thanks Carlos, Ren, and Tom, US family, and SA family for all the emails so far!

Comments: Total (7) comments

Sam Fanshawe

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 04:17 am

So proud to see you running out there. It's been a long journey that has been inspiring to watch - and you picked up a husband along the way. Hahaha. Crazy about the dive bombing birds. Did they not tell you not to smuggle cheese sandwiches under your hat. I also love your goggles! Maybe we'll have to have another cold weather race to entice you back.

Charles Holman

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 03:24 am

You have been constantly on my mind. The environment is spectacular. It looks like you had wonderful sights and even some dive bombing to keep you occupied on your days travels. This is a part of the world that I have not had the pleasure to witness, until today.....the beauty is spectacular. Even though fewer participants the fact that you see each other during the competition is a great added positive experience. I will be thinking of you tomorrow as you venture onward. Our blessings are with you, dad, mom, and Darla. Enjoy the journey.

Marlena Holman

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 11:05 pm

Been thinking of you all day!!! I hope day 1 went well! Love you sis!!

Danielle Miller

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 10:12 pm

Go, Marisa, go! Here’s hoping Day 1 on land is a good one. I’ll bet the landscape is amazing!!

Marietjie Saunders

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 11:05 am

Hi go girl...and do what you can do better than what any one of us has ever tried...think happy thoughts and your body will follow accordingly..big hugs and lots love

Athol Saunders

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 10:08 am

You go girl, one step at a time. Keep the mind positive, the body will follow.

Dusty Saunders

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 09:15 am

You guys should be starting any minute now. Good luck! I hope you have an amazing day out there. Keep safe and enjoy this adventure. We are all rooting from all over the world! Love you!
Marisa Holman
First Day At Sea

24 November 2018 08:18 am (GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi

Today has been a full day at sea and tomorrow will be he same. The boat rocks a lot and sea sickness is common. Many people (including me), are using motion sickness patches that you put behind your ear. It is kind of funny seeing these patches behind everyones ears. Also very funny to see that the crew put up those white paper bags wedged behind all of the handrails. Its funny for me because I have no had any sea sickness. Not so funny for those that aren’t feeling so great.


I mentioned in my first blog post that I was coming down with a cold/sinus infection. I am feeling muh better wih a day full of rest and pills. I have lost my voice though!


The boat has exceeded my expetations. The cabin are pretty nice,we even have our own bathroom and shower in each cabin! I am bunking with Stiina who I met in a previous race and am really enjoying it!


Tomorrow is another day at sea and then on Monday we start. Rumour is that Monday will be  12 hour day! Very exited to take my first steps on Antarctica!

Comments: Total (3) comments

Danielle Miller

Posted On: 25 Nov 2018 10:59 pm

Such an epic adventure you’re embarking on! Glad to hear you’re feeling better and not feeling sea sick. Can’t wait to hear about Race Day 1!

Sherry Holman

Posted On: 25 Nov 2018 02:55 pm

I have absolutely no idea what time it is there in comparison to here but I am surprised and pleased that you have not had seasickness. They have been my biggest concern when you talked about the boat. Rest up and be ready for the big 12 hours. You are amazing!

Marietjie Saunders

Posted On: 25 Nov 2018 09:44 am

Hi really seem to be in good spirit...keep it up.
Marisa Holman
All aboard!

23 November 2018 06:12 am (GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi

Just a little update from Ushuaia:


It is a common 4deserts saying that the hardest part of these races is just getting to the starting line. While some have struggled with delayed or missing luggage (fortunately mine came in!), my trip here was eventful and quite stressful. Every connection was tight. The group I booked through apparently changed my itinerary so that i was supposed to catch a 4am flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia when I only had a scheduled landing for 8am into Buenos Aires. I had to pay for another flight to ushuaia and fortunately there were enough seats left and I made it to Ushaia last night in time to grab dinner with some friends also racing.


I have been feeling a bit under the weather since around dinner time last night. It was probably from poor sleep and being in confined spaces. This morning I grabbed some meds and once they started to kick in I have been feeling better. Just going to keep taking them and sleep and rest as much as possible until we start racing on Monday.


Despite all this, I am so very excited and happy to be here! Have loved seeing old friends in the last day and preparing for this epic experience!


We leave as a group to board the boat in a few minutes. Off to Antarctica!!!

Comments: Total (4) comments

Charles Holman

Posted On: 25 Nov 2018 03:20 am

Glad that you arrived at your destination, safely. Thinking of you and wishing you the best, let your athletic sense of purpose and determination be your guide to each day. All our best, mom, dad, and Darla.......

Ren Kufner-Heal

Posted On: 23 Nov 2018 10:17 pm

I always love following your races, M, but I'm especially looking forward to this one! I literally can't imagine how awe-inspiring it is going to be. Rest up, hope you are feeling yourself again soon, and I can't wait to follow your progess xx

Sherry Holman

Posted On: 23 Nov 2018 07:40 pm

Sorry to hear about the flight problems. Enjoy the boat ride before the race starts! Thinking of you always.

Dusty Saunders

Posted On: 23 Nov 2018 06:27 pm

Wow, as always I am blown away by your adventurous spirit and passion for taking on the unknown. All of the best out there. We will be with you every step of the way! Looking forward to reading about this epic journey. Say hi to all the penguins for me!