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DID YOU KNOW? Nearly 1 million Australians have Type 2 diabetes.
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DID YOU KNOW? Over 60% of people with Type 2 diabetes can overcome it with fitness and healthy lifestyle.

RECROSSING THE DRAKE (Ron Schwebel)

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.

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!

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.

DAY 1 PT 2 and DAY 2 (Ron Schwebel)

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Day 1, the long day, was really long. Up early, we were transported ashore on Zodiacs. A quick briefing and we are off at 8:15am.
The task was to complete as many 7k half laps, in opposite directions, as we could before cut off time of 8:15 pm.

The first few laps were not too hard. Firm snow, with a few sneaky hills thrown in. The hills seemed to grow larger and steeper during the day. There was also a section if maybe 1km of a narrow channel. Vary soft parts and some wet areas.

After about 3 hours, the sun was giving a little heat out, enough to soften the crust on the snow. This and the passage of 50 runners over and over caused the course to chop up badly. Some sections were very soft, occasionally we sank to knee depth.

Our lap times blew out from under 1 hour to 90+ mins near the end.

The weather did not change a lot, between -2 and +2 I guess. But a small change in wind is significant. The slightest wind meant an extra layer might be needed. Then in a sheltered section I would be quite warm. This meant the gortex on and off many times in the day. Same with the Beanie and gloves. We had a lunch break, 15 mins or so. The lack of activity meant a few more layers were needed until running warmed us up again.

Eventually we finished our penultimate lap about 8pm. We were given the option of another lap (it's now getting very cold) or going back to the warm, cozy ship for a hot shower and meal. Many runners went for the latter, but Team Born to Run did not hesitate to unanimously vote for continuing. That gave us an extra 7km, which will be more than handy in the final total. We finished in 13th position. 5 1/2 laps = 77km.

We were strong all day. Fatigue and soft footing did slow us down, but we did not take it easy at any stage.
We have all pulled up well the next day, so our pacing was good.

Day 2. No Running
We anchored in Deception Bay in the early hours, but by 8am the wind had picked up to 45 knots, so we could not go ashore.
Then it was off to Trinity Island, about 5 hours/100km South.
On shore, were many penguin colonies, but not much running space, so the afternoon was spent sightseeing and taking photos.
The scenery was amazing, Penguins, snow formations, penguins, icebergs and more penguins.

Tomorrow, we hope to run, but will probably be "punished" for having today off.

DAY 1 LONG STAGE PART 1 (Ron Schwebel)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
This will be a brief summary as we just got back to the ship at 10pm.

The team went really well today. Conditions were good to start, mostly nice solid icy snow. After 3 hours the sun warmed things up, the snow softened and it was very shifty.
We did a multilap course and finished our last lap after 13:26 hours.
We hope to be about top 15, so a good result and around 73km.

More tomorrow.

DRAKE PASSAGE (Ron Schwebel)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
It's been an enlightening trip across the famed Drake Passage, the body of water between Argentina and Antarctica, on the MV Plancius.
About 1200km of ocean that can often be treacherous to cross.
There are about 65 runners and supporters and maybe 50 other passengers.
They will be doing other activities such as Kayaking, Snowshoeing, Camping out, Photo Workshops and Mountain Climbing.

We left port around 6 pm Thursday 22. Shortly after we had a safety briefing including an abandon ship drill.
We were shown two lifeboats which hold 60 people each. They look small submarines and have been referred to as "Vomit Comets".

It took about 4 or 5 hours to clear the Beagle Channel, which was very smooth. The first rocking came after that and gradually increased during the night. By morning, the ship was being tossed about by moderate swells, making walking more of a stagger. The first signs of seasickness were reported.
Most passengers are wearing a patch or taking medication. I am going to tough it out.

In the morning I looked out of the portholes to see quite a few seabirds following the ship. Mainly Petrels and Albatross.
The birds don't appear to fly but seem to continuously glide and swoop. Any flapping is almost imperceptible.

The swell increased during the day, and the winds as well, getting to 45 knots during the 2nd night. Passengers are now walking as in a more drunken state. At meal times, an occasional shriek is heard as a water jug or bottle of wine is toppled by a sudden tilt of the ship.
Seasickness is now more prevalent, as indicated by the number of empty seats at the meal tables.

I haven't escaped unscathed, my journey spoilt by a quick dash to the toilets yesterday afternoon. Today, I have acclimatised and feel good.
The other members of Born to Run have fared well.
It is now 6pm and soon we will move into more settled waters as we near the mainland of Antarctica.

Excitement is building as we all look forward to getting onto the shore. We have been briefed on boarding and disembarking Zodiacs, a small rubber ducky type craft we will use to get from Ship to Shore. We have also vacuumed all our outer garments and shoes to prevent contamination of the fragile Antarctic environment. We will also wear boots to go ashore, which will need to be disinfected.
We have been cautioned against leaving the slightest piece of rubbish behind. We have been given special permission to take food ashore, which cannot include fruit, nuts or dried chicken meals.

We had a briefing for the first days running, which is tomorrow. It is to be about 13 hours of running a figure 8 course of a 9km lap and a 4km lap, repeated.
The aid station is in the middle, and results are recorded as distance.

Tomorrow is significant for me, as I will have then been on every continent.

That's until I report on our first days running.

Pre Race at Ushuaia (Ron Schwebel)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
We have had 3 days to look around here in the Southernmost city in the world. Lat 54:47 South. Weather is cool to cold. Max about 10 and yesterday it snowed at sea level in the afternoon. On Monday we ran and climbed to the top of Galcier Martial just out of town. The last 500 m elevation was through snow and quite steep. We got to a pass at 1000 m, which dropped off a sheer cliff the other side. Tuesday was spent filming around town and yesterday, a trip to the national park. It was freezing out there, with a stiff breeze as well. Jess, Roger and I ran back, about 22 km with first 8km was along a single track, next to the lake. Some photo opportunities came up. When the sun came out the views were amazing. We are just packed ready to check out. We head down to town for a briefing and then aboard the MV Plancius for the trip to Actartica. Excitement is building, but somewhat tempered by thoughts of seasickness on the Drake passage. We will be posting daily updates on the ship once the race starts in 3 days.

Stage 5 - The long March. 74km. 12:12 Approx -Ron

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Long March is an apt title, we marched a long time. Up at 6am then a 2 hour bus ride and a 10am start. I thought we would have a long hot day, but the conditions were mixed. Up to 30 deg early, then mid 20's as we skirted the snow capped Kunlun mountain range. Then a storn, some sand some rain. Temps down below 20 and a lower wind chill. Jackets on for a section. We ran away fron the mountains, the sun came out and back to 30deg. from 7pm.

As for the course, we had a steady uphill on vehicle track, then a section of the typical short sharp hills and stony river beds.After reaching the highest point, the second half was gradual downhill on track and river beds. We ran sections of this, but used all of Matts energy with still 10k to go.

At times It became a bit monotonous, our feet were feeling it and we all wanted to get it done. No more so than Matt and Roger, who both endured some uncomfortable hours on their feet. Eventually it was job done. A relieved Born to Run team crossed the finish, collected our water and crashed in out tent.

Matt, Greg and myself were slightly delayed, as we are volunteers in a mecdical research program. We have been blood tested for sodium levels pre start and after Stages 1, 3 and 5. I had trouble producing enough blood, requiring 2 stabs twice, and a lot of finger squeezing.

Today we are relaxing at a great campsite. A grassy field amongst a grove of trees. It's quite protected from the hot sun and frequent wind blasts. Our media man, James "Hot Knees", has been busy filming and photoing. Numerous interviews and photo shoots of us, and fellow competitors of interest. 

Tomorrow it's a 15k run into the old Kashgar City. We are all really looking forward to a few comforts, hot showers, fresh food, nice bed etc.

I might not be able to post again, so a few closing thoughts. We now realise that we had a dream race at Atacama. 5 runners, 6 stages, travelling a long way, the leadup training etc gives plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong.

This time our fortunes chnaged, with sickness affecting Matt and Roger. They both prevailed in a great team spirit and we all pulled together to get us home. We finished in good shape and a still reasonable performance had we all been well.

Thanks for all the comments, they are are very encouraging.

Also a good mix of State of Origen feedback.

This looks like a NSW year, I reckon.

Stage 4 - Stairway to Heaven. 36.7KM 8:44 - Ron

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Day started with a climb to Shiptons Arch/Heavens Gate.  200m rise on a vehicle track, then 200m climb of steep track and Ladders.

An amazing spectacle, advertised as higher then the Statue of Liberty, I think.

We stood underneath it at 2900m elevation. Access through the arch is blocked, but it would take an experienced climber to decend the other side. Then we retraced out steps back down 300m to Cp1. All slow going.

Then next 12 k or so, was the most difficult terrain so far. All between 2600m and 2700m. When I say between, it was up to 2700, down to 2600, up to 2700, etc, etc.I lost count of how many hills, all very steep. Many parts were slippery scree and most runners had a slide or two.

Eventually we decended to a stony river bed, and followed that for a long drop to CP3. Then mostly flat road and river for the final leg.

Matt was much improved today, much stronger. However running was an issue as it upset his stomach as soon as he started. So we walked almost all the course, except for a short fartlek section on the road where Matts stomach had settled somewhat.

The rest of the team is going well. No issues for Jess and Greg, and Roger is much improved from the first day.

For me, I enjoyed the Stage. Although we went a little harder today, I finished feeling quite fresh. Additionallly, I was able to handle all the hills well, so much better than I have for a long time. I could run down steepish slopes painfree!

Weather was good today, 10 at start, 8 near the arch, 30 at CP3, and quite cool tonight at 8pm.

Tomorow the long day and we are so much more confident after today. We are up early for a 2 hour bus ride to the start. Start time is 9:30, so we will be going right through the hot part of the day, which is usually 3 to 7 pm.

Stage 2 & 3 -Ron

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

STAGE 2 Mars in the Gobi.   About 39km. 6:14

 

Homestay was amazing. Each tent stayed in a room of the house. We slept on an elevated platform with layers of carpet. Despite temps of 30+ outside it was really cool in the house. Also very dark, headlamp required. We fund the candles just as we were leaving.

Team started well, but about halfway, Matts Stomach problems slowed him, as well as a knee injury. Roger was improved, but still not comfortable.

So for the last 2 sections, we walked almost all the distance. We felt the first real heat today, on a bitumen road in a valley at the end of the stage.We got in ok and camped in a recently slashed field in a town called Langerfville.

A feature of the villages and farm areas, is the use of a border of trees as weather “shields” around the areas.

 

STAGE 3 The farmlands of Langerfield.

Matt awoke with a fever, no appetite and feeling washed out. From the start he was struggling. He walked strongly, but was unable to run.

It was supposed to be an easy day, but in the middle sections we came upon kilometers of ravines, 10-20m deep. They were steep and extremely slippery going down  That tested us all, but Matt, with a loss of strength had to battle really hard. He had a 15min rest at CP2. By CP 3 the terrain was easier, and Matt got to his feet after only a 5 min rest. That was a good sign, as well as a strong walk out of the CP. The last section was a vehicle track, which sounds, but we climbed 400m in 8km.

Today we climbed 700m to 2500m. It’s cloudy now and quite cool. A bit different to yesterday when it was over 30deg at this time 8pm.

Tomorrow will be more difficult, so we all hope that Matt wakes feeling a lot better.

We go to a feature tomorrow, called Heaven Gate. A huge natural arch.

I’ll detail blog on it tomorrow.

Thanks for the emails received so far. Please reply with the State of Origin score if you are emailing.

This will be the first one I have missed watching.