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).
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!!!