Wednesday, January 22, 2014

McMurdo Marathon Recap

Looking out from the starting line

So, this past weekend I participated in the McMurdo Marathon, one of many event put on my the McMurdo Rec department for the folks down here. It was a great experience and the volunteers  and organizers were awesome. Saturday (the day before the marathon) was had high winds (up to 30 knots out at Pegasus) and was on the chilly side, so a number of people ended up backing out. About 70 of us stuck it out, and Sunday ended up having some pretty beautiful weather.

To start, we dropped off gear for the half way point out at Pegasus Air Field and then loaded up three Deltas to get out to the start, at the 1 Mile marker of the white road out to Pegasus.
Getting ready to go in the Delta
Once we got to the start, we had about ten minutes to get ready and lined up. They gave the runners who were going for time the front line, and put the skiers on the outside, with everyone else lined up behind.
Kiwis and Americans toeing the line.
The course followed the snow road from mile 1 out the Pegasus at mile 14 and then turned around. The half marathoners turned around just after the second aid station out at mile 7.5. I started off a little fast, but after two days of not running at all I was feeling good and wanted to run with other people for as long as I could.
Skiers head out under cloudy skies.
I ended up running most of the first half with a group of guys. One of the guys, Martin, had planned on just doing the half, but got to the turn around, felt good and just kept going. We had two aid stations on the way out, which included the usual granola bars and Gatorade, along with PB&Js, burgers, candy bars, hand warmers, pee bottles (no restrooms out on the ice), and shots of whiskey and rum.
A few of the awesome volunteers, at Aid Station #2 (mile 7)
The road itself was in pretty good condition. You definitely had to watch your step and choose your path, but for the most part it was possible to find good footing. The last mile to and from Pegasus was in rough shape, though. It was either very soft, or glare ice, which made things interesting. As I said earlier, the weather on Sunday was pretty beautiful, to the point that I actually started to get hot the last couple of miles out to Pegasus. As my group was coming in to the turnaround, we started to see the skiers on the way back in, and later the leaders in the running race.
Will, a fellow Minnesotan down here with one of the science groups, won the skier division of the marathon

Duggan, one of the men's leaders
 My group ended up making it to the halfway mark at just under 1:50.
fueling up at the halfway mark
I ended up dropping off my gloves and buff, which I'd been carrying along since about the second mile. Of course, once I turned around I realize how much of a tail wind we'd had and got a little chilled. I still had my headband, so once I put that back on I was pretty comfortable. Unfortunately, that was also about the time that I dropped the guys I'd been running with for the first half.
Turning around and lookin' fast
So, by myself and against the wind. Needless to say, parts of the second half were a struggle, especially after about mile 18. Sometime in here running on the snow also started to bug my toes (as I write this, it looks like I'll be losing one or two toe nails). I started talking to myself, and making goals about when I needed to reach the next mile marker, usually giving myself about 9 minutes. For most of the way back I made my little goals. At about mile 21 I started to flag and missed goals twice, but then I hit the final aid station with 3 miles left, chatted with Annie, one of the volunteers, for a few seconds, and was able to pick it up again.At about mile two, after passing the Wissard travers equipment, I could see the finish line very clearly getting closer, along with another racer not too far ahead, so I tried to pick it up a little bit more. I don't think I did a whole lot, but I gained on the guy ahead of me and was able to put in a good finishing kick the last 100 meters. And I finished in 3:55:56, a personal best, in Antarctica.
After getting a little bit to ear, I switched to my ski gear and went back out to cheer other finishers in. At about the 3 mile mark, I ran into my friend Beth and skied with her back to the finish.
Beth, somewhere on the way back in.
Once in, we waited for the last of the finishers and for our ride back in to town.
John (left) and Danny Gregory
Awesome story time: So, Danny Gregory was having trouble and thinking about quitting at the second to last aid station at mile 19, and John talked with him and then started running with him to keep Danny going. He ended up running the last 7 miles with Danny, in snow boots and Carhartts, and a little drunk (he'd been taking shots with all the runners who took shots). What an awesome guy.

And now some more pictures:
On my way back in

Laura running her first half marathon

Chris (in black) and Jonas running the half marathon

Paige and Megan, two of our awesome volunteers, out at mile 11/16

Getting close to the turn around

My Kiwi friend, Isaac, skiing the marathon. He learned to ski here on the ice!

Looking towards Pegasus from the turn around

Volunteer Gaelyn posing at the turn around.

And now we have to run all the way back...

We also had some natives join the race

1 comment:

  1. This is unbelievably awesome. I have run many halfs and fulls and can't even fathom the unforgettable experience that you at this one. For all the white there, it is incredibly beautiful.