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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

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!!

Stage 3 (Jess Baker)

Friday, November 30, 2012
Omigosh, this is truely THE most BEAUTIFUL place in the world! All the rumours, all the cliches are true. The whitest white, the bluest blue, large and unique ice formations, as we cruise alongside the Antarctica mainland. I wish that all my family and friends may save enough to see it. It moves you deep in your heart, without feeling like a cheesy soptart!! :) This morning we were greeted by a pod of 12-15 type B orcas (the kind who hunt seals). It was amazingly spectacular, calming and exciting, all at the same time. The second day the run was cancelled, I did not care, it was replaced by exploring with colonies, and colonies of (Gentoo) penguins. It was soo much fun, I have a million photos of penguins. Roger and I just lay down in the snow kind of between a penguin walkway (you are not allowed to approach them closer than 5m) and just waited for them to come to us. There was lots of excited whispering of "incoming!!", as they waddled towards us. After yesterdays run however, in addition to their cuteness, I now have utmost respect for these tough, hardy creatures. We hiked around a 3.2km loop for 8.5 hours. A lashing wind, and a big, fat low-lying cloud ensured that temperatures were well below freezing. Now having experienced just a tiny amount of this coldness I am in awe of the King (or maybe Emperor?) male penguins who just sit there for 65 days peak-winter warming their eggs. It is almost incomprehensible too, how explorers manage to survive their crazy expeditions. Wow! Wow! Wow! 

Just when we thought the day,s adventures were over, as we rode back on the small Zodiac boats to the ships, a strong Russian accent yelled out "abort operation", "abort operation"! Our "driver" quickly switched route and joined another boat in "pushing" an iceberg away from out anchored boat. Then another boat joined us. It was sooo cool and something I had not thought of before. To add to the drama, the boat with the single man just suddenly rode up the iceberg and nearly tipped over. Whoa. That was close. Falling in this icy water could more than likely induce a heart attack. 

Because of the sighting of the orcas, our run this morning was cancelled, but we are due to run for a few hours (likely a 1-2km loop!!) this afternoon. People are getting on the ice this morning, but we have to stay on the ship to do filming. A bit disappointing, but ah well, this whole opportunity would not be possible if it not for the Born to Run team. 

Tonight we camp on the ice -wahoo!! I am planning to wear ALL my clothes, AND my fun American friend has a...drumroll...a hot water bottle to lend us - wahoo yeah! :) 

Internet, understandably, is a bit intermittent here, so don;t worry if you don.,t hear from us for a while. Thank you soo much for your emails and blogs, soo awesome to read. Tehe, ladders P!! Much love, Jess X

Stage 1 (Jess Baker)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Well, where to start? Awesome day. Just after I finished writing last time, we went up on deck and saw spout holes – from a distance, but still soo cool. Just listened to a talk about whaling, and hard to imagine, that 60 years ago this ocean was alive with spout holes. By 1931 humans had massacres 175, 000 whales, and 46,000 between the years of 1937-8. One theory for the rare sightings of blue whales is that they have a very good memory, and are still scared of boats. Humpbacks however, have a shorter lifespan and are on to the next generation. Anyhoo, enough of whales- the run!!

Apparently King George;s island is one of the less attractive Antarctic islands, but I tell you I was impressed! The circuit was like a figure of 8,which we ran 5.5 times. The sunlight ensured that it never got boring though, casting a new scene on the beautiful white landscape as it moved.and the blue ocean contrasted beautifully with the pearly white. At one turnaround point there was a whale carcass – so fascinating. One of the vertebrae was as large as my diaphragm, the jawbone about 1.5 times my height. The other turnaround point involved going through what I would describe as a ceiling-less corridor. I would say snow running is a lot harder than sand running, mainly because of it’s unpredictability, every third, fourth, seventh, fifth step you would take a big drop up to your knee – making us look like drunkards stumbling across the ice. For the most part is was just entertaining, and Roger and I took a couple of stacks mucking around on the hills.

We met some Uruguarian researchers, and it was fascinating chatting with them. They said that we were AMAZINGLY lucky with the weather, over the past 8 months, they had only had four days like our “mild” sunny day we had. Sorry P, no temperatures to report, but I tell you the wind makes a massive difference, and I am very grateful for my windproof gear. The researchers have internet, phone, but effectively live on tinned food, no fresh fruit and veg for one year – could you imagine?

The most exciting part of the day was at the end. Let’s hope I can explain it. Basically cut-off was 8.30pm, but if you get back before 8.15pm you have the option to go and do another loop. We got back at 8pm. People were retiring then, but we requested to go on for one more…it was great to see the look of disbelief on everyone’s faces as they agreed. We were the last people back finishing at 9.40pm. That last hour was such an adventure. I am sooo so pleased we made the decision to go on. The sun dropped, and the true nature of Antarctica was revealed. The temperature dropped, and it felt like we were in survival mode. The fingers went numb almost immediately, and it was like catch 22, to be able to fumble around to put more clothes on. It was really quite scary, and I did for an instance turn into girly mode, as I run up to Roger, asking him to “help me”! The team got on sooo well today, I am/was really happy, but I tell you, it took all we could to hang back with Greg, I just wanted to run and run to warm-up and get to my dropbag with another 3 layers of clothing waiting for me. I cannot imagine what frostbite must feel like. I bet any “local” would be guffawing at us, saying that it was “freezing”, but anyway it was just such an awesome experience, just to see just how scary and dangerous a climate it is, and how the unprepared would be shown no mercy.

We got back to ship about 10pm, and bless the staff has a hot buffet waiting for us; so kind.

Up early this morning, to see the views as we sailed into Deception island. Sooo beautiful, and pretty cool going through a thin layer of ice. Apparently in winter, Antarctica stretches for 5kms more in ice. Woo. Winds were 50 knots, so all activities are off. We are off to another destination now, maybe to run this afternoon, but I doubt it. Mixed reactions; some disappointed (me), some very relieved I think!

We saw penguins yesterday. They are so incredibly cute…and inquisitive, waddling up to us to have a look! There will be a talk soon learning all about them – I can’t wait! Their white bellies look almost pearl-like in the sunlight.

Oh, one another thing that surprised me (sorry, no time to structure this), was just how bright it was. If you did try to take your sunglasses off, it was properly blinding – wow! I lathered and lathered sunblock on my face, and have still come out with some colour, though relative to the bright pink or red faces wandering around the ship, I have come off very lightly!

Right, best go. Willam, thanks for your message – get saving/fundraising, you would love it!

Getting on particularly well with an animated, enthusiastic American chick, unrelated to the race, and two lovely Australian/English couples. Roger was talking to the organizer today, and she mentioned, that if roger and I can get through just one of these deserts together, let alone 4, we are destine for each other….awww!

Pre-race (Jess Baker)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Hey guys,

Wow, thank you some of you for your emails already. Well we are well over halfway in your boat journey towards ANTARCTICA! The long journey (48 hours flying, 2.5days on the boat) adds to the authenticity of effectively going to the end of the world, and kind of makes it even more exciting. We just had to vaccuum all our gear to remove any bits of dirt, grass etc. that may contaminate the protected expanse, and we must disinfect our footwear before and after time we go to shore. This again, gets me even more excited about stepping afoot onto this pristine, relatively untouched white continent. I can' WAIT for it to come into view.
Binoculars, camera and wildlife book accompany me everywhere on the ship, just in case, but as yet, I have only had sightings of a sooty albatross, lots of cape petrels and Antarctic Terns. I missed the Wandering Albatross :( ... they have wingspans of about 1.5 metres)!!
I thought that I would go insane 2.5 days on the ship, but it is actually passing really quickly - mainly because I just keep sleeping, sleeping and sleeping a bit more - never slept this much in my life I reckon (a side effect of the seasick tabs apparently). I have no regrets about taking them though, my gosh! 45 knot winds (whatever that means?) has ensured that everyone walks around like a drunkard, food gets sent flying into people's laps at the dinner table, and rolling from left to right on the bed as you "sleep" - it does almost remind me of a fairgrouund ride...except it never ends....! Feeling a bit naseaus even with the meds!
I have never slept on board a ship before. Day journeys are the most I have experienced. It has completely EXCEEDED expectations. The tiny cubby bedroom I was expecting is a substantial double bed, with wardrobes, desk, kettle, and private shower; as nice, if not better than any hotel. I had an entertaining shower this morning - swinging around on a rail with one hand, whilst washing myself with the other. Large buffet breakfast, three course meal at lunch and three-course meal at dinner!! WOW! Meeeting some lovely people - new, and old friends from past deserts!
Roger tried to zen it out without seasick meds, but quickly succumbed! We entertained ourselves one evening (again in the comforting horizontal position), creating celebrity names with vomit-related phrases, e.g. Russell Throw, Wallace and Vomit, Spu Jackman....feel free to add more. Indeed, a few people mentioned that they did read my last blog,but made no comment - go on, say something if you wish!
So, this desert is different, it is all based on time, i.e. how far you can go within a set time. Tomorrow it will be 13.5 hours on King Georges Island. I cannot wait to get outside and MOVE!!
Love to you all.
X

ANTARTIDA (Jess Baker)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
In a word. EXCITED.

Fun on Glacier Martial, fun running in Tierra del Fuego National Park, now off for some EXTREME fun in ANTAAARRRRCTICA! WOO! Living a dream for an amazing cause!

For my non-facebook friends, this was a recent post:

For those of you whom have seen me excited; please let it rise for several hours, add 500mls of red bull, two desert spoons of jumbo jellybeans, a splash of unknown beauty, and a penguin on the top ....that is how excited I anticipate being about boarding that boat tomorrow - to ANTAAAARCTIIIICAAAA with Team Born to Run!!!! WAHOOO! It feels almost surreal!!

Look forward to hearing from you all X

Stage 5 -Jess

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hey guys!  FanTASTIC to log on and read so many emails and comments - thank you, thank you, thank you!

Well, we did it...in just over 12 hours and just before dark - result!  The morale was low in the team at the start, despite big efforts to raise them.  People were in their own hurt and head space, and it was tough trying to keep the team together.  Worrying who was ahead, who was behind, and being the ogre asking people to hold up a bit or catch up.  I reflected on this challenge of being a part of a team, and did have a pine for running free without thoughts of others towards the beautiful snow capped mountain range that led us most of the way.  (There was no construction site in sight yesterday - wahoo!)

People then all seemed to get out of their head spaces, and we regrouped and banded together again.  I giggled my way with Roger for a good 30km playing games such as "guess the historic event" from humourous descriptions without mentioning any key names or words, or creating quotes with the phrase "all of it/that/those" in it that a famous person might say, and guessing the person.... I guess you just had to be there right??  :)  It was awesome though, chatting to some South African guy saying how he was in a complete low, but how our chuckles picked him up.  Testament to how important it is to be around positive people when you run. 

Another highlight that all my British chums who send me tubs of marmite might appreciate....saved for the long day....TWIGLETS!!  :)

For the last 30kms we followed Matt's lead, shuffling when he could, and walking when he requested. The sense of team was AWESOME. Matt gave everything he had...and more! I also had the Go Pro - a handheld of camera, so I had lotsa fun playing with that, and it gave me good reason to run ahead, or sprint to catch up...so I got my little jogs in Sam!  :) 

Everyone flopped into bed pretty much when we finished, but I stayed up chatting and laughing around the campfire with James, the cameraman, till about 1am.  I haven't felt like I have connected with people as much here as we did in Atacama (no-one like the Saturo family, wahoo) and other people agree who have been to both that the atmosphere is not quite the same, thus it was nice just to have a good conversation with someone.  I really like James, and am starting to feel more comfortable in front of the camera...to the effect that there may be quite a bit of me in this part of the doco for you mum! Definitely me doing some, I quote, "hilarious", dancing - whoops! :)

It's awesome that you can see the photos that accompany this blog - word cannot do it justice...or well, maybe Roger;s might!  :)  My spotty socks are dog print gaiters to keep the scree out mum - tehe- glad you like them - (another!) gift from Roger!

Today is the "rest day", aka, the boring day for me!  Roger seems a lot better,so I might be able to entice him for a little walk.  I have a magazine too.  One advantage of Roger's sickness (whoops!), is that we have a bit of food leftover - nothing like Atacama when we sat and tried to make a sachet of peanut butter last one hour!!  :)  There are lots of funny walks going around the camp today too.

I am soo excited to be returning to the UK soon.  Steve can you and Vicky make it to our house? I'd love to see you both; and Kel, watch out, I am soo going to be trying to convince you to meet us in Sahara.  It is tough, but the cut-off is soo generous, you so could do it! And Sam and Nathan...???  :) Mum,I'll let you off!  :)  Pauline, Roger and I definitely having you over for dinner to share tales of outback and Gobi!  :)

I will log on again one more time tonight, I anticipate around 6pm China time.   One thing I haven't mentioned is that because China only has one time zone it gets dark really late here about 10.30pm which is a bit strange, and light again at 7.30am. 

I will be back in Oz on Tues straight to work, eek, but then will be up for catchups soon after. 

Lots of love,

Jess

Stage 4 -Jess

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I LOVED it today - 8 and 3/4 hours, but it went soo much quicker.  Shipton's arch was spectacular, and was followed by 15kms of awesome steep up and downs.  It was so exciting to scramble up and down the scree (everyone took some kind of stack); to get the heart rate going and that buzz and adrenaline again - something that has been lacking the last couple of days.  I've decided that running along windy mountain ridge lines is totally my favourite kind of running.  Matt is making a miraculous recovery (we were joking that people might think it is a fix in the doco)! With that concern gone, cheery spirits could be liberated again, and I was totally in my happy place again running towards, and away from stunning mountain range vistas that fade as far as you can see into the horizon.

Meeting some more awesome people, e.g. a guy whose wife has written him an inspirational quote for each day - how cool!

Tonight we are effectively camping in a poo field...or the smell testifies to such. 

Tomorrow is an early start with a 2hour bus ride to the start of the looong 75km day.  Hence the next email will likely be the day after (Matt is still not feeling THAT strong).

Thank you soo much for all your emails.  Yes Sam, you got your Chinese right.  Someone today asked if I was Roger's mai mai!!  Indeed, a few people keep mistaking Matt and I as sister and brother!!

I do miss running, and I am teased that my frequent phrase is "little jog?? Little jog?",but I guess the challenge for this desert is just to complete, and Sahara we can pick up the game again.

We had another awesome encounter in a village - with Roger exchanging with a young tot his first ever handshake, and me playing tickles with a kid with the cutest incessant giggle.

Love you mum, miss you too.

Thanks soo much everyone for your emails and comments (I can see the blog comments now), soo fab to get. 

Jess

X

Stage 3 -Jess

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We made it! Top hats off to Matt today.  Imagine feeling nauseous, weak, and fatigued. What do you want to do? Just curl up in bed and sleep.  Well matt felt like that but got up and hiked 37km across the desert with 11kg on his back.  It was really touch and go today. James, the cameraman, got great footage; trying to build suspense he asked me whether or not matt would make it, and I genuinely didn’t know.  It is so different to Atacama, from running across the finish line each day in high spirits  to stumbling over the  line with sighs of relief in Gobi. It is hard to be upbeat and jokey when you can see one of your team members struggling so much.   We distributed some of his pack out to try to lighten the load.

As an aside,  it was fascinating to experience how the back of the pack roll, on your feet all day out in the heat, with no relief from the heavy pack.  Respect.  Imagine the pace at which you meander through a market - that is the pace at which we were going at for most of the day.  It was hard to be uplifted by the scenery too, some parts were stunning, but the last 10kms for example, we were trawling through a construction site with trucks driving past and leaving you to choke in a wake of dust.  Gobi feels much less remote than Atacama, with a road often in view.  tomorrow is promised to be tough …er!! . .  but I am really excited about seeing Shipton’s arch.  A natural arch the height of the empire state building.  I think we scale dodgy ladders and it is not for the faint hearted. 

Apologies for the writing. I have a dodgy computer, with people talking in my ear hole. 

Thanks for your support.  Let’s see how we go.

xxx

Stage 2 -Jess

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thanks so much Mum, Dad, Sam, Clare and Steve for my emails - always lovely to log in and see.  I can't see any blog comments for me- is that right? Glad you liked the grad photo mum - arrrived so quick.  Well, a lot slower, subdued day today.  We effectively hiked our way in.  Matt is really struggling with his stomach, knee and back.  He queried whether he should feel proud or disappointed.  I confidently asserted he should feel proud; he is clearly in a lot of pain and is battling on.  Ron was lagging a lot today too.  The slower pace is great to take in the scenery - red Mars like rock was one section, and the second opened out onto what I imagine to be like African plains, with lots of mini Table Mountains to scale up and down.  The adrenaline of the team is lacking however, roger is not back to form yet, and I'm missing my fun play partner!  The female and male individual competition is quite exciting.  It feels like watching a footy game from the sideline with your football boots on.  I contemplate what it would be like to run individually; I wonder how one would pace themselves - I'd love to try it sometime.

I am still enjoying the international nature of the event, and meeting people of all different nationalities.  A 55 year old Korean who has donated 418 pints of blood.  A man from Kuwait who ran 600km across Australia, and a French lady who ran 555km across Northern Africa.  I am getting lots of ideas for future runs - sorry mum!  :)

It is cooler than Atacama, but the longer we are out on the trail clearly means more sun exposure in the heat of the day.  I feel completely satiated on my food, but might not have packed enough trail food - as opposed to eating back at the camp food - if we are to be a lot slower as I anticipate.  It is awesome to wake up every day and just run.  I am sleeping well, eating well, stretching much more than I EVER would normally, and just relaxing.  I am having a great holiday. 

Love to you all XXX