Antarctica Marathon

One of my co-workers, Kevin Brosi, 53, from Flower Mound, Texas, just completed a marathon in Antarctica on his quest to run the 7 continents. Last year, he completed his goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. This is Kevin’s account of his recent trip to Antarctica with his wife Lucy.  It’s an unusual story which Kevin permitted me to share.awards_day_banner_iowa

Lucy and I had a great trip to Antarctica.  It was late summer in the Southern hemisphere which made for mild temperatures.  We met many nice people, mostly crazy runners from all over the globe and even several from Texas and one guy from Iowa.  I believe 14 people completed their 7 continents in this marathon.

Our trip began on Monday March 2 and we returned to Flower Mound on Tuesday March 17.  We flew from Dallas to Miami to Buenos Aires where we stayed 3 days.  Immediately, we walked Florida Street, a mile long pedestrian mall.  Lucy began to scope out the Argentina stone jewelry, Inca rose (rhodochrosite).  After competitive comparisons and negotiating she eventually bought a necklace and earrings.

The second day we took a city tour in the rain and went to all the “must see” spots we could. We visited La Recoleta (and the cemetery where Evita’s Peron is buried, the Palermo Italian section, La Boca (the origin of the Tango) and  drove past Casa Rosada (the pink residence made famous by Evita), the 9th of July Street; a broad parkway celebrating their independence and the Obelisk.  The next day we attempted to make a side trip to Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay, but the travel agent failed to get the tickets so instead we went back to La Boca and watched some Tango demonstrations.  We also walked through the plaza around Casa Rosada and saw protestors shouting, police on standby and many TV news crews set up ready for something.  Later we found a demonstrator had started shooting a gun and made big news in Buenos Aires.  We missed that, fortunately. 

Argentina is all about eating meat so Lucy and I went out and had steak at Las Nazarenas (near San Martin Plaza) and Steepus (in Puerto Madero near the Puente de la Mujer pedestrian bridge).  We also found a display of 8 foot polar bears in the San Martin Plaza representing most every country.

On Friday, March 6, we flew on to Ushuaia, Argentina (Tierra del Fuego).  After some time for shopping and exploring Ushuaia, including the prison museum, we boarded our small cruise ship the Akademik Ioffe.  106 passengers.  Another group would join us a day later with a very similar ship the Akademik Vavilov.  We set sail across the Drake Passage to Antarctica for the marathon.  It was a 2.5 day trip across to King George Island for the marathon.  While the staff landed to make arrangements for the race with all the research bases (China, Russia, Chile and Uruguay) we cruised Maxwell Bay in the Zodiacs (12 person rubber rafts with aluminum floors and powerful motors).

The next day we ran the marathon in 32 degrees F weather.  Not too bad, it had been almost that cold in Fort Worth when I ran the Cowtown Marathon on Saturday.  People from Wisconsin thought it was downright balmy in Antarctica.  It did get quite a bit colder shortly after we started so I swapped my Maniacs hat for a stocking cap to stay warm.  And my fingers got cold so I had to swap gloves later.  The biggest challenges were the steep hills, mud, water hazards and the slick glacier.  Every step had to be well placed.  We ran 2 loops on the course starting at the Russia base, past the Uruguay base and up Collins Glacier.  Then we turned around and ran past the Uruguay base again, back past the start and through the Russia and Chile bases and out to the China base. 

Lucy had made arrangements and rode an ATV to the China base where she met the staff and helped at a water, coke and beer (REEB brand!) aid station.  Many stopped, took photos and chugged beers.  Lucy was constantly blowing a whistle she brought along to encourage the runners.  I heard lots of runners talking about the crazy Chinese lady with the whistle!  I reached the China base before she got there and turned around to head back to the start again.  I reached the half at 2:30 and headed toward the Collins Glacier again.  It was not extremely slick and I didn’t use the Yaktrax I brought along.   I took lots of photos as I went along and even found a Chinstrap penguin on the route running with us.  Everyone stopped to take photos of him/her (who knows?).

The mud on the course was a big obstacle especially on the approach to the glacier.  The ground was tundra so very soft/squishy.  In a few spots it was “pull the shoe off your foot” kind of mud.  The best way across was too step on as many stones as you could reach with each stride.  It made for a zig zag route and sometimes the rocks sank and other times there was no rock to step on.  How deep will my foot sink this time?

Runners encouraged each other at every pass with high 5’s and “way to go”.  With 162 marathoners we got spread out, but the double loop meant there was usually someone in sight.  On my last pass by the Russia base I found Lucy walking the 3 miles back to the start.  She didn’t want to get left behind.  I could hear her blowing the whistle a mile away.  She had her camera on multi-shot and was taking 4 photos per second.  click, click, click…….. She caught each long penguin stride I made.

I finished in 5:23 in 70th place.  By the time I changed clothes and got on my wet weather gear for the Zodiac I was really freezing.  Running is good, stopping is bad.  Lucy had to help me zip my coat as I couldn’t grab hold of the zipper.  I shivered on the Zodiac boat ride back to the Ioffe and rushed to the room for a hot shower.

A successful 96th marathon on my 3rd continent.

On the next day we had a huge BBQ on the aft deck of the Ioffe (the Vavalonians came over to join us) as it snowed on us in Wilhelmina Bay.  I ate a hamburger with my gloves on.

The remaining days we traveled to the Antarctic peninsula (yes we stood on the Antarctic continent) and visited penguin colonies and walked amongst them.  Lucy had one come up to her and chew on her fingers.  You can’t help but say “They are so cute”.  Over and over again.  We saw Gentoo, Adelie and Chin Strap Penguins.  Their biggest predator is the Leopard seal and I have included photos of a Leopard seal that captured a penguin.  You can’t help, but feel sorry for the poor penguin.

We also rode Zodiac boats and saw Leopard seals in the water, chewing on our Zodiac, hunting/waiting offshore for penguins and lounging on ice flows.  We tracked Humpback and Minke whales and have many great photos.  click, click, click………  Also the birds are plentiful in Antarctica.  Gulls, Albatrosses, Terns and the famous attacking Skua.  I did not get attacked, but they were flying close by many times.

On the Zodiac trips to shore or just cruising the bays, we pushed through brash ice that looked impassable, circled icebergs, saw glaciers calving new ice into the water and hauled glacier ice back to the boat for drinks.  We constantly heard ice cracking and crashing.  It always got our attention.

The ride back across the Drake Passage turned rough and Lucy has a video of the winds and waves.  She went on deck and captured the video from the railing which was a crazy thing to do.  She was the only one out there and the waves were splashing high up the boat.  Most people wore Dramamine patches behind their ear to ward off seasickness.  However, few were sea sick, but it was humorous to see someone show up for dinner, take a look at the food and then leave hurriedly.  It was a rough 2 days for some.  Lucy and I did not use any seasickness medicine so we were amused by the whole thing. 

As a last thing we passed by Cape Horn and made a symbolic “rounding the Horn”.   We then pulled into the Beagle Channel and up to Ushuaia the next morning.  We had quite a bit of time again in Ushuaia so Lucy and I took a taxi to the ski resort, rode a chairlift part way up the mountain and hiked as far as we could toward the glacier over Ushuaia.  We made it back in time to eat at the only Chinese restaurant in Ushuaia and found out it was run by the only Chinese person in town.  I took a photo of Lucy with Mr Xu.  I found empanada, ravioli and a variety of grilled meats there, not very Chinese.

We made it to the bus with 4 minutes to spare, flew to Buenos Aires and caught the red eye to Miami.  Tuesday March 17th we arrived and rushed across the Miami airport to catch the next flight home to Dallas.  It’s nice to be home too.

Here is the link to our photo site:
http://picasaweb.google.com/KevinBrosi/AntarcticaAndAMarathon?feat=directlink

Here are our video links:
Zodiac in brash ice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecMcIcK_toY
Humpbacks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVID5NrYo2M
Cute penguins “Porpoising”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j77evyC1H-A

Glacier crashing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdY8fEcOCOY

Lucy’s crazy Rough Seas video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTRX1P-pWCM

And this one we heard about (it’s not ours): A Penguin evading Killer Whales: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBwqbqZ3L60

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: