Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Antarctica Rocks!!

Okay so I am still on a high from my experience in Antarctica - it has been the trip of a lifetime for me, enhanced by meeting a fabulous group of runners and the wonderful camp staff at Patriot Hills.

Well what can I say the Antarctic Ice Marathon was amazing and surreal and bloody hard work! Poor weather conditions delayed our arrival into Antarctica - although by the time we arrived the weather was amazing big blue skies and snow everywhere! It would be fair to say I was starting to feel trepidacious about actually running a marathon under Antarctic conditions. And while those following the progress of the marathon may have wondered how I was coping with the delays of the marathon (we had planned to run on December 12 but didn't actually start until December 15) particularly since I am not a very patient person. But actually each delay felt like a reprieve and for once I was actually happy to wait!

The day of the marathon finally dawned at we started running at 11.32am on the 15th of December and 7 hours and 9 minutes later I finished the Antarctic Ice Marathon - exactly 3 hours longer than the Alice Springs Marathon in August! I was the second woman across the line and came 7th in a field of 18 marathon runners!

But I am sure you all might be more interested in the gory details of the actual run! Well the fog horn went off and 17 runners sprinted away to be immediately brought up short by the soft snow. We all spread out and settled into a rhythm - well as much as the conditions would allow. I spent a lot of time watching the track and trying and to identify the harder sections of the snow-covered track but in reality there wasn't any good line to follow. I found the first 8km particularly hard work and it wasn't till I got to the first check point that I discovered that I had actually been running on an incline. With no real markers and a totally white horizon it was particularly difficult to get a visual perspective that identified an incline.

I got to the first check point had a hot orange juice and went on my merry (okay not so merry) way. I was assured that this section of the course was downhill - but it took a really long time till I found the downhill section. Around 14km I was feeling pretty low but it was at this point that I caught up with Mark who was on his third 25km lap of the 100km Ultra Marathon. Mark gently reminded me that this marathon was all about the embracing the experience of running in sub-zero conditions in the Antarctic and not to focus on the 'race' it was a great pep talk and really helped to lift my spirits.
I made it to the second checkpoint at 19km for some more hot orange juice and then ran the best section of the course. A lovely sweeping downhill section leading into the campsite. Although once again distances in Antarctica are deceptive and it took quite a while to reach campsite. However, I was re-inspired at this point since I could see one runner ahead of me maybe one kilometre and one runner behind me about 500m - so you all can imagine my game plan try to catch one and stay ahead of the other!

I eventually made it back into campsite (checkpoint 3) at about 25km and had a quick change of tops because my thermal top was dripping wet. I actually ran with a camelbak (and insulated tubing) and drank the entire 2 litres during the run - with no stops for pee-breaks!

The last 12km or so was an out and back section and was just a hard slog and difficult to judge the distances as we were running off into the wide, white horizon! I finally resorted to alternating a run/walk program between the red flags, spaced about 50 metres apart! I was relieved to make it to the final turnaround point and only had 6km to go but let's just say it was the longest 6km of my life! Once again I had one runner ahead of me and one runner behind me and my goal was to try to catch one and stay ahead of the other. Ironically in speaking later to the the two runners, they shared similar goals, one was trying to stay ahead of me and the other was trying to catch me, so we were all driving each other forward :).

I didn't actually see the campsite finish line until about 1km to go and it took forever to reach but as you can my happy face I was ever so pleased to finally finish!

So what did I think of the Antarctica Ice Marathon? A truly awesome, amazing stunning experience.

Would I do it again? Right now I would have to say Maybe and if I did it again I would at least be better prepared mentally and physically for the experience.

Would I recommend the event to other runners? Absolutely, without a doubt, the camp staff were amazingly supportive, the food was outstanding, the tents were relatively comfortable and the race was well organised - just be prepared to wait on the weather gods for the starting date! In fact I waiting for the next Coolrunner to take up the challenge.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Once in a lifetime

Just a quick hello to all my followers - thank you all so much for your support it helped me tremendously knowing you all were encouraging and supporting me to complete this event. What can I say about Antarctica - it is truly the most awe-inspring place I have ever been to and I constantly had to pinch myself (it didn´t hurt because I was always wearing gloves) to make me believe I was really there. Wide open vistas with beautiful snow covered mountain back drops. It was also a lesson in patience - time works differently in Antarctica - it is dictated by the weather gods and they are fickle and can be ferocious! We had delays in our arrival and delays in the timing of the marathon - but fortunately no delay in our departure!

The whole experience was made that much richer by the fantastic people I met who ran the marathon and also those people who work at Patriot Hills! More to follow after I get some sleep!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


She did it!!!!! They were able to run the marathon & Sharyn has made it!!!!! Her time was 7hr 9min & she was 7th competitor out of 17. Well done! The event was hard & cold but she still has all her fingers & toes - no frostbite. Hopefully she will be on her way home in the next few days, depending on the weather. Lots of photos to share upon return. Congratulations on a terriffic effort.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The weather finally cleared with -6c & Sharyn was able to fly & land safely in Antartica. Today it's -20c!! Marathon has been delayed to Monday morning as long as the weather is good - severely cold rather than freezing cold! Good luck!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hola from Chile

This is my first trip to South America and I am really enjoying Chile, the people are all very friendly and Santiago is situated in a beautiful location. I spent two days in Santiago touring the city and a day trip to the mountains - for some secret altitude training! Santiago is based in a valley surrounded by mountains it is a quite arid region with only 10 days of rain a year. The city is quite warm getting up to 30C during the day but cooling down quickly overnight.

My Spanish is very bad consisting of greetings and counting to ten, luckily for me many people speak better english than my spanish and I have managed to get along nicely - sign language is very helpful - pointing and smiling. I found it very interesting to see a mime artist performing in front of cars at an intersection - sometimes you don`t need the words.

I am now in Punta Arenas my final stop before Antarctica - I have already met a few of my fellow competitors. In fact some of them spotted me - they had seen my alice 2 antarctica website. There are some runners with excellent running and endurance sports pedigrees, just check out the list of competitors.

I took a mini tour around town, it is a small town which is quite windswept and exposed to the elements. The houses are all small (helps with heating during winter) and many of the houses are brightly painted - the ones I like have bright red roofs - I guess it helps finding them in the snow! The town is located right on the ocean and in fact my hotel room faces the beach which is lovely, today it is 15C and sunshine.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Adventure begins

Sharyn has begun her adventure and has arrived safely in Santiago, off on a mountain tour today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Communication via antarctica

Hi everyone
I'm Sharyn's sister whom will be updating her blog while she is being the crazy girl running a marathon in Antarctica. There is no internet cconnection for her in Antarctica so she will keep us updated via sat phone. We are all very proud of her & wish her good speed & tail winds all the way. Donna