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DID YOU KNOW? Nearly 1 million Australians have Type 2 diabetes.
DID YOU KNOW? The cost to Australia of diabetes is nearly $7billion per annum.
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Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Hi All
Against all set backs and close calls during the year, as well as all doubts and disbeleivers, our team finally finihsed the 4 deserts Grand Slam.
To say I am proud of our teams achievement and every person in the team who made this happen is an understatement.
Not only are we the only team to attempt and achieve this feat, within our team other milestones have been set.

Matt is the youngest ever competitor to do the 4 Deserts Grand Slam.
Ron, is second oldest.
Rog & Jess are the first couple
Rog is first person with Type 1 diabetes
Myself and Matt are the first father and son.


The last day was going to be called off as the winds gusted to 40 knots, and we faced the prospect of being given our medals on the ship, missing out on a proper running finish.
But the ship moved location and the weather front passed, and we got out for a run starting at 5pm in light snow. It was a short run of under 2 hours, but at least we got to officially cross the finish line to end our epic 2012 journey. I think our team came around 15th or so for this event.

The course was a flat 1.5 km out and back course in soft snow, which took a couple of laps to pack a track in. We did 8 laps or 12km in 1.40 or so, which was slow but we didnt care. We stopped a couple of times as a group of penguins made their way across our course, and we gave them plenty or room as we are required to keep a good distance. It was quite amusing as the race leaders had just lapped us, and then next thing we were all standing in a group with the leaders chatting to them, while we all waited for the penguins to clear the course.

Anyway, we said that we would go to the ends of the earth to raise awareness and funds for Type 1 diabetes, and here we are at the ends of the earth hopefully doing that, but even though this part of our journey is nearly over, its time to think about the next phase.

Its been a huge year, with a lot of effort and support put in by many people to make this happen. Thanks to all involved! Its hard to beleive we have done it, and turned a crazy dream to reality, but we have done just that.
It will be great to see the highlights on film when James puts it together.
I now have a the biggest brownie point defecit of my life, so I will need to work hard now to reduce this, which starts with Raylenes birthday on the day we return to Sydney.

We might get to blog again later as we have a 3 day boat trip back to Ushuaia ... we are now so far south that we are not seeing any darkness at the moment, so hard to know when its time to have a beer or two.

Anyway cheers for now, will blog further, after I read the blog replies.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Well it looks like we've made it. Today is the last day that we are able to be set ashore to run. It's been an incredible year... one that I will never forget, and one that I am so grateful to be a part of. I have to take my hat off to Dad who has put this thing whole thing together and followed through with his dreams. At times I was pushing myself hard and would have hated to think how he was feeling. He's definitely no Kenyan and can't scale hills like a goat but after nearly 900km of running/marching/walking/trudging through these deserts he has not stopped.

The whole team has stayed strong and got the job done and I'm looking forward to bringing this whole experience to the Simpson desert next year where we can finish what we started.

Yesterday's stage we only 2 hours around a 1.2km track. Racing the planet had showed their sick sense of humour with this one because the course was 600m straight up a massive hill and them 600m straight down. Dad was using his polls again and I was behind him pushing to move just a little bit faster... a nice little technique we learnt in Sahara :).

Talking about sense of humor, we also slept outside on the ice for the night. When I say night I mean between the hours of 9:00 pm to 5:00 am. I don't know if it can be classified as night because the sun never went down and it was light the whole time. A very surreal experience. Unfortunately I can't say I slept under the stars in Antarctic because there were none! If your wondering what it was like... it was cold. I woke in the morning with an inch of snow on me. We slept in a water proof sack (body bag) with a ground liner inside and double sleeping bag. As you can imagine going to the toilet took a little bit of skill! I'm proud to say I executed this perfectly.

Today we have been disrupted by the weather and are currently looking for a protected place to run. It looks like we may get a short run this afternoon but nothing has been confirmed yet. The weather has cleared enough and if there is a suitable track we may be sent out for a final 2-3 hour run. Fingers crossed!

Thanks again for sending through all the comments. I'll send more updates after we have completed today's stage and after we finish the 4 Deserts Grand Slam! YEWWW!


Wednesday, December 05, 2012
It's the 2nd day and the Drake is calm on the way back. Stomachs are calm as well.

It's a long trip but we are well entertained. Today, a humpback whale was spotted, so the Captain stopped the ship expecting the whale to check us out.
Right on cue, he turned around and swam across our bow a few times, with plenty of breaching. Then he resumed his journey South.

We have also had the chance to attend many talks on Wildlife, Environment, Adventurers and Pioneers of the region.
Also, a trivia quiz organised by Simon, one of the runners.

As well, I have had plenty of sleep and finished Pat Farmers book, Pole to Pole.
Pat ran from the Nth Pole to the Sth Pole a year ago.
On the Antarctic leg he ran 70km every day in the early part of that stage.
One of the talks was on Shackletons voyage where the crew were stuck in ice and took 15 months, I think, to be rescued.
That is a story worth reading about, as is Pat's book.

You can read about the pioneers and adventurers of the polar regions and be in awe.
But when you have been here and been exposed to the conditions for awhile you get a better perspective and the admiration is magnified.

We have tomorrow, Sunday to go, and arrive Monday morning at Ushuaia.
There is a really full program tomorrow, culminating in our awards presentation.
There might be a bit of celebrating as well.

POST RACE 2 (Jess Baker)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012
We saw a HUUUMMMMPPBAAACCCKKK!!! About 100 metres out to sea we saw a spout hole...70m....50m...30m...20m....(s)he's curious, (s)he's coming towards us. WAHOO! It was absolutely awesome watching it surface and submerge again and again so close to the boat. It's white pectoral fins gave rise to a beautiful turquoise colour under the water and hinted in excitement where it was to surface next. Soo cool. That was the highlight of yesterday, between the extended napping (my gosh, I would hate to have chronic fatigue syndrome!) and (too much!) glorious food. Today we sail past Cape Horn, lots of interesting talks, and tonight the awards banquet. Then one day in Ushuaia before our return flight. Starting to think of returning home now; sooo excited to see Kitty. It has definitely been a great break, haven;t thought about work once...even if I have tried. Dec and Jan are designated catch-up with friends month! Mum are you free your Thurs morn for a chat? P we are inviting ourselves over for dinner!! And Di, you said it, you are now committed to an extensive slideshow! Bronwyn, exciting to hear that you are following. Love to you all. Jess X

HILL REPEATS (Greg Donovan)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Yesterday was a short day with a 2 hour run around a 1.2km circuit. It was straight uo a huge hill in soft snow, and straight back down again.

This was the first day running on the actual Antarctica mainland. The other days have all been on islands.
As I am a big guy, the two weakest parts of my running are going up big hills, and coming down big hills, so as this was 100% of the course it was not too much fun.

It was quite warm, and after I sweated so much and was soaking, I got quite cold.

In 2 hours we covereed 6 loops or 7.2km, so that gives you an idea of the slow pace. The views from the course were however amaziing, and we could have fitted in another loop or so, but we spent quite a bit of time filining with the team by James, which involved stopping chatting and some specific shots required.

We came back to the ship for a hot shower and dinner, and then returned to the shore and camped out the night, amongst the penguins which was quite an experience. I slept on and off as it was light all night and the penguins never shut up. Also we were told that sometimes the glacier breaks off into the water and causes a huge wave, which has been know to wash campers into the water. On quite a few occaisions I woke with dread to a thunderous noise from the mountain, which was ice and sow shifting, but everything ws OK.

We are niow waiting to arrive at our new destination for our last days run, we should get there by around 10am, which means running by 11am or so, so it looks like it will be another 8 or 9 hour day if the weather holds. Unfrotunately Ron was ill last night, and was put on antibiotics, and told to stay on the ship. We are keeping our fingers crossed he will wake up well enoiugh to run, so we can complete our teams final mission for what has been a huge year..

Other than Ron the rest of tne team are fighting fit..

Will blog again after its all over..

We then have 3 days travel to get back to Ushuaia. 

Love to all

DAYS 4 & 5 STAGES 3 & 4 (Ron Schwebel)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Stage 3 was a short day due to losing the morning to bad weather. The course was 1.2 km. 500m up, a bit of flat then down, a bit of flat.
The elevation gain was 130m, ave grade 26%, so quite steep, esp on soft snow.
We were going for 2 1/2 hours, but not a lot of km.

After the finish it was the usual routine. Put on all clothing I have, get cold, hands ache with cold, go back to the warm ship.

I have been fighting off a bug since the start, and had been coughing a lot on stages 2 and 3, although feeling ok. But after Stage 3 I really felt it when I got back. Shivers and a fever. The ships doctor, Astrid heard me coughing and checked me out and referred me to the RTP Doctor, Suzie. She said I had a fever gave me some antibiotics, and said "take it easy tomorrow". We had been told it was planned to be 10 hours tomorrow, so that's a long time to take it easy.

I was excused from the onshore camping that the other runners did. Phew! I slept ok, but sweated up 3 Tee shirts.

Day 5 dawned to a 30 knot breeze. Too windy to go ashore The expedition leader showed us the weather chart and said we would head to calmer waters. That was a relief for me as I went back to bed. I could have run but was glad not to.

My condition improved during the day, so much that I wanted to race in the afternoon. Mainly so that we would finish the Grand Slam today, and not yesterday. i.e. We could really celebrate crossing the finish.
The course was quite easy, flat, but soft snow over a 1.2km loop.
Lap by lap became easier as the snow was flattened, although the weather got cooler, and we had constant snow.
I had trouble seeing the track through my dark glasses, as the light was low (5pm start, very cloudy). It was too bright to not use them, as the snow blinds you after a while without sunglasses.
We ran for only 1:40, as the cutoff was the leader getting to 200km total.

Then we finished. WOOP!
WE HAVE COMPLETED TO 4 DESERTS GRAM SLAM, the first team to do so.
Plenty of photos taken at the end, plenty of time to get cold.

I froze again getting back but feel much improved tonight.

Tomorrow is a cruise day with an optional shore visit in the morning.
I feel I will probably have a long sleep in, esp after tonight's celebrations. (Now 11:30 pm)

I might blog again in a day or two, but the event is over, we did it!

POST RACE (Jess Baker)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Stage 3: Hill reps in Antarctica. 1.2km loop; straight up, straight down for 2 hours with occasional "thunder" crashes as the nearby glacier dropped some of its snow into the water - ultra cool. The temperature was kind and it was a good afternoon, except for some loud F-bombs at the end. That night we returned to the mainland, made a small ditch and slept in bivvy bags next to the water as it softly snowed. HOW awesome? Not only do we get to see penguins, we get to sleep next to them, as they chortle us to sleep, and chorus us in the morning. Just as you might look out and see mynas in Australia, or sparrows in England, penguins porpoise through the water everywhere you look - the excitement of seeing them,does NOT get old (though, I do admit, I get a little bit hopeful that it might be a seal)! We are passing so close to the icebergs, and the water is just scattered with ice. I would defy anyone not to be moved by this truly magnificient place. It is soo wonderful to see Roger enjoying his new camera so much. This morning we were back on the boat early (5am), but the weather is poor and we are currently trying to sail away from the winds and 5-10m visibility. This is our final "running"day before a 3-day sail back. I am crossing my fingers, legs and toes for at least some kind of run, but I think that I am in the minority. The crew are keeping us entertained for interesting talks - one on Shackleton's adventure (omigosh, see previous blog about how inconceivable their expeditions are) and one about women in Antarctica - wahoo! Bless, our little gnome Ron is feeling a little under the weather. Greg always seems to be the focus of concern, that we can sometimes neglect the others - but he is tough little cookie, and I am sure with the antibiotics that he will pull through just fine. 

Hoorah to your win mum, and how could I forget to mention that they have lots of PICKLES on the boat!! :) My SIX top layers, FOUR bottom layers, 1 x liner and 2 x sleeping bags, and 2 xbottles of hot water, meant I was positively toasty camping. Who would believe that on Antarctica!!


Wednesday, December 05, 2012
MINDBLASTED AMAZEMENT!!! How do I describe our time in Antarctica so far? Uploading to internet from here is a bit of an issue but as soon as we're back in Argentina I have some great photos of the team, killer whales, other competitors, 2200 metre high snow and ice mountains, meshed layers of low-lying cloud almost touching our heads as we run, and closeups of Jess' first penguin encounter, plus - of course - penguins themselves.

All our gear is working well. First day we ran 13 hours, yesterday was about 9 hours with a rest and sightseeing day in between. Doing this final desert with such brilliantly unique surrounds, awesome crew and organisation, and friends we have made throughout the year is a truly original experience.

The expedition leader is a hardy Scotsman called Kelvin who wears shorts in the face of everything except blizzards. Picture Gerard Butler with giant, hardcore, expedition-leading, mountaineering, orca-punching 25-kg adventure balls, rather than teeny-tiny, designer-label-promoting, actor balls.

Coming back on the rubber duckies yesterday with frozen figures after a day of rolling around a 3-km loop course, one side in sun, the other in Mordor-esque metallic grey, there was near calamity. Our boat-driver unloaded one of the ten runners back on to the main ship, the Plancius, then in a thick Russian pirate commander accent barked 'Abort operation, abort operation!'. Naturally, we thought 'Wuh?!?'.

Just 8 metres away, a lone Zodiac pilot was butting the front of his boat against an iceberg, trying to push it away from the ship. They don't threaten the ship itself, but when its anchor is dropped, they can push the ship, drag the anchor, and damage the ocean floor. Our rubber duckie pulled up alongside and began pushing with its bow too. But suddenly, the Zodiac driver in the first boat revved his motor too hard, his prow accelerated up on to the berg itself and his boat sheared off to the left, tipping sideways at a 30-degree angle. Holding on to nothing other than the motor handle, he was banking sharply backward through space like a sailboarder, precariously hanging over the frozen waters for a breath-holding moment, before miraculously regaining the horizontal plane as he shot toward the open harbour we were skirting.

The line between comfort and cataclysm here is pencil-thin. On the first day, we added one final taste of the 7km out-and-back section of a 13km figure-8 course. heading out with our backs to the high-hanging sun, the day was not much cooler than it had been since 9am. But as we turned to head back, just before 9pm, it was clear that the game had changed. Menacing clouds had risen from nowhere to block the sinking sun. Wind intensity doubled and the temperature felt like it had dropped by 5-10 degrees in a matter of minutes. Fingers numbed and concern grew as some team members dropped behind, seemingly slowed by the cold, rather than accelerating as a means of diminishing its effects.

The support crew and expedition operators who waited for us, the last runners on the course, were awesome. They had us off the shore and on Zodiacs headed back to the Plancius within about 3 minutes of hitting the theoretical finish line. There was no doubt that even the experienced polar crew were wary of the sharp change in climate.

Running this afternoon, sleeping on the ice tonight, and hopefully a big final day of racing tomorrow.

Time and climate will tell.....

PS Our Mafate 2 are keeping our feet well-insulated from the frozen ground and long running. The hair-dryer wax treatment I applied before leaving Argentina seems to have worked really well for the waterproofing we needed too.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Ooooh, controversy! The presentation, 'Ice Maidens: Women in Antarctica', just started with James Brown 'Man's World' blaring over the ship's speakers. We've just had lunch after an amazing presentation by Henryk on Shackleton's heroic but ultimately misdirected adventure that began aboard the appropriately named Endurance.

Why are we inside for presentations instead of outside running? Right now the ship's deck is covered in snow, even though the wind has now dropped to a gentle 30 knots or so. The weather isn't so much a threat to runners, as we have a vast array of weather-safe running gear. But at a certain stage, generally around 45 knot winds, the Zodiacs can't operate safely and that means, problematically, no return trip.

The past 24 hours has been remarkable. Yesterday afternoon we had a short run on a short loop, but within a 1.2km circuit our comedic course planners managed to find about 140 metres of elevation gain, bordered on 2 sides by risky overhangs, facing the result of two massive snow shears and overlooking a vast, black mirror of near-frozen ocean harbour bound by 5-storey thick walls of prehistoric snow. The team made a reasonable number of short loops in two hours, but capturing footage for the video record of the Grand Slam was the priority.
We ended the day by returning to the shoreline and sleeping there last night, in bivy bags (waterproof, technical versions of the classic Australian swag) on the shore of the Antarctic mainland, metres from chortling penguin colonies under softly falling snowflakes. Unforgettable, and quite possibly our last underfoot experience if this weather holds.

The captain and expedition leader are pursuing alternative locations with hope for activities on shore somewhere to go ahead, but the runners all seem in a chirpy almost-celebratory damn-near post-finish-line mood. On the one hand, it would be great to have more off-boat experiences in this place of persistent beauty, and of course Jess wants a 13-hour run : )

On the other hand, Born to Run's Ron Schwebel is down with what may be a bacterial infection or some nasty virus. He might be Born to Run but right now he Needs to Rest. How the next 15 hours will unfold is, as seems a matter of course down here, uncertain and largely beyond anyone's control. Will this effect his Coast2Kosci start next Friday? No idea, but right now 'contagious' is a very dirty word.

Once again, we experienced penguins up close yesterday. While they wandered around us and through our groups, or scudded underwater like ultrasonic torpedoes, 'testosterone problems' - namely, an excess - saw a number of runners and race directors almost-nude up and take a 'polar plunge'. With water at roughly zero degrees, they're still looking pretty refreshed today.

Hopefully pictures will tell a better story when we have the bandwidth to post them, atwww.facebook.com/hokaoneoneaustralia or www.facebook.com/teamborntorun or on my own fb or my blog at www.runeatsleeprun.com. The singular primitive and elemental purity of this forgotten world has touched everyone here, resulting in either bliss or suffrage. There's no effective means other than a Vulcan mind-meld to convey the bond we now share with many of the people here with whom we have run and adventured this year.

And no representations can really express the heart-bursting wonder that surrounds us. Only a visit to Antarctica can likely explain a visit to Antarctica.

DAY 3 Stage 2 (Ron Schwebel)

Friday, November 30, 2012
Another testing day in the Antarctic.

Course was set at 3.2 km, but included a steep 90m hill each lap.

Greg went with ski poles today, and powered up the hills. There was some nice compacted snow to run on. but some sections were very soft and slow.

The weather was very benign to start with, sunny, 5 deg and light winds. This deteriorated during the day as the clouds came over, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. Each lap got colder during the afternoon.

Start time was 11:30am and finish was at 7:50pm. We managed 14 laps, so 2 ultramarathons achieved. 122km in 2 days.

After finish is the worst. We stop running, get colder, pick up our gear, trudge to the Zodiacs, wait on the windy shore.
Yesterday we had a 1km trip on choppy waters back to the ship. It's a great relief to be back onboard.

It's now day 4. No racing this morning, but a short stage this afternoon. Then we camp on shore overnight.
We are all looking forward to that...not a lot.