The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016
Well it was more than one, it was five. 2KM laps around an incredible lake that looked upon an Everest like mountain range with the other side flowing into Half Moon Bay Antarctica. Sometimes you get a flat track where you can plod along and contemplate the week, other times you get crusty snow that as the micro climate changes every 15 mins goes from breaking through 1.5-foot-deep snow to trudging through slush. Everyone is pretty banged up. Most hobble along, some find second winds of inspiration to finish out the epic adventure in the final three hours.
If I could highlight the week it would be “absolute stunning views, stillness and harsh landscape” all wrapped in one. We were very fortunate with the weather, with only one day shortened due to inclement weather. I am always in a reflective mood going through the last day. Sometimes it’s about the friendships you have made, the hardships you have encountered or the terrain you have conquered. I would say in this adventure it has been an even split of all three plus one more.
First, I have been able to run and compete again with some great friends from past races. In addition, I have made a number for new friendships that will last a life time. The community of people here are incredible and make it all worthwhile. Special mention to the staff on the ship who are first class, very knowledgeable and capable in this region. I have learned a lot from them.
Second, I went into this race with the modified intention of just getting to the starting line with my ankle sprain. I was able to do that and more. Sometimes you forgot the impact of not being able to train enough and have the body ready for the pounding. I was transformed into past races where I overcame sickness to finish in China, a blown up ankle to finish in Iceland and how I was able to mentally prepare in a short window to get the job done. There were times I was disappointed I could not complete as effectively as I did in Chile last year, but I went into that race extremely well trained and with no injuries. I am very proud of the work I put in the last four weeks just to get here. My intention was to enjoy the journey, and be present in every moment, and I did that.
Third, was the terrain. Surrounded by pure beauty of ice and snow, we had the challenge of running, climbing and hiking through all different types of snow and ice. Soft, course, crusty, much of where your feet sank deep. Really back to my homeland in Canada! The amount of energy you burn lifting your legs through or sinking into deep snow is immense. Although I was injured coming in, the countless hours of cross training on the bike, the strength training in the gym and balance and core exercises had me ready. Proper discipline, nutrition and breathing training gave me the energy I needed to push through ankle and knee pain.
Lastly, was the incredible sites in one of the most pristine places on earth. Antarctica. It took us a 1,000 KM voyage from the southernmost tip of South America just to get here! I felt very privileged and grateful for being able to stand, hike and compete in a place that most people in the world will never visit. It has a very delicate ecosystem that we were able to take in, respect and make sure we left no impact on. From the Penguins and Leopard Seals on land/ice to the Orca and Killer whales swimming alongside our boat. I accomplished my goal of being very present the whole week through. It helped I broke my IPhone the night before our first day of racing! I had no music / distraction the whole time. Ha! Realizing pain is temporary and the swelling in my legs would reduce on the voyage home, I was able to raise my guise and just stop and be so present at times I was utterly exhausted. Smelling in the crisp cool landscape, marveling at stunning icebergs, hearing the wildlife, the waves, the crackle of mini avalanches off in the distance and appreciating pure stillness and a place frozen in time…it will be one of the most epic adventures of my life.
I leave Antarctica with no regrets and many magical moments to take home with me.
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