....only 250km to go
The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010 Competitor
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Post race
26-Nov-2010 06:29:42 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010
OH MY GOODNESS ME, I CAN SEE LAND!! After racing the storm for the last 3 days, the end is in sight.  By midnight tonight, we should be safely in Ushuaia, which will be a huge relief. Last night the waves were enormous and everything was flying everwhere! I don't think that i'll be doing this journey again....but it has been an incredible experience. Where else would i have seen Orca'a, humpback whales, penguins and albatross' in their own environment.
Later we have the awards and finishing supper before we all hit the ship's bar for the last time.  A HUGE thank you to everyone who has emailed me over the last 9 months while i've been in the different deserts - always a morale boost at the end of a long and tiring day.  Another thank you to Sock Solutions Ltd, Falke Ltd and Up & Running for my kit - i would never have survived the extreme temps without your help.
To all my fellow Grand Slammers - WE DID IT!! x
Comments (1)

The Final Stage of the Year
24-Nov-2010 06:23:49 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010
We were out on the course yesterday until 9pm. It was stunning, in calf deep snow, on a glacier surrounded by hundreds of little penguins.  I managed to shuffle over the finishing line to be given my medal by Mary.  I have to confess that  there were a couple of tears shed as i realised that the 4 Desert Grand Slam was complete.  I'VE DONE IT!!!!!! Yippee
We all hit the bar on the boat last night in a large way and i was the last girl standing at about 5am!! I had a drink for my great grandfather Sten, as he had been down here on Aurora while Shakleton was on Endurance.  How they coped being iced in for 8 month in a wooden boat with just normal clothes, i have no idea.
We are currently sailing back to Ushuaia and trying to beat a storm which is heading our way in the Drake Passage.....all fingers crossed that we beat it, otherwise the seasickness patches are going to be tested to the limit!!
A HUGE thank you for all the emails and messages you've sent while i've been in the Desert this year  - it hasn't really sunk in yet but i'm sure it willl once i'm back home xx
Comments (9)

Morning of Stage 4 update
23-Nov-2010 05:42:39 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010
Sorry about my small update yesterday.  I felt awful and my body was beginning to shut down, food and painkillers were needed. The Doc reckons I’ve now torn my LCL…..oh dear.  Luckily we only have 2 more days to go.
The setting for stage 3 was stunning, in the crater of the volcano on Deception Island.  We had countless chin strap penguins and a very large seal watching us for most of the time.  We had to take the odd diversion on the course as the penguins kept waddling around! Most of us are lame so they probably thought we were a distant relation! Most of the day was spent in a snow blizzard and all the gear was needed – fur hat, goggles, micro spikes etc.
We have sailed over night down to Dorion Bay where today’s stage is taking place.  We haven’t been told what the time or distance is yet, but I’m sure it’ll horrendous in true RTP style….
Sorry, back at the computer again – we have just been circled by a large pod of orca (killer) whales and a large humpback whale. Incredible to see them up close.  Unfortunately a ‘batch’ (not sure if that is the correct term??) of penguins swam alongside the boat at the same time and a couple of them weren’t fast enough. Watching an orca play with a penguin was very surreal. I’m almost expecting David Attenborough to pop up any minute now!!
Thank you for all your messages – hugely appreciated and please do keep them coming xx
(Ma – cabin 217)
Comments (7)

Stage 3
22-Nov-2010 03:56:08 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010
The storm that i was wishing for last night came early annoyingly and most of us were holed up in our cabins, taking deep breaths, for most of the evening! When the alarm went off at 3.45, it had disappeared....typical! We started today's stage at 6am and we were on the course for 11 1/2 hours, most of which was spent in a snow storm and with the wind chill, temps were down to about -10c.  It was mind numbing! I'm afraid that my knee did not cope very well and i am typing this with my leg up and a pack of ice on.  i think the 750km previous to Antartica might not have helped.
Will write a longer update tomorrow but not feeling brilliant so heading to sleep early. Once again, thank you very much for all the emails - please keep them coming xx
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Stage 2
21-Nov-2010 05:04:29 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010
Stage 2......
Today was meant to be the long stage and we were told that we'd be starting at 6am.  Once again, the start was delayed due to bad weather and we all set off at 10.30.  10km later, we were all pulled off the ice and packed into the zodiac's as there was a storm moving in.  As i'm writing this, there is a snow blizard and the visibility is pretty poor. The only thing i can see is icebergs...?! Thank god we aren't still out there!  Annoyingly, my painkillers kicked in just as we were stopping the stage.....might take them a little earlier next time!  There are rumours going around that if the storm blows over, we will be heading back out onto the ice later today for another 45km or so but we will have to see.
Thank you for all your messages, please keep them coming and i'll update this again today if we head out into the cold again x
Update at 6pm
We were preparing to head out back onto the ice at 4pm but then the weather deteriorated again. Quite annoying as i'd taken some painkillers to try and time it a bit better! Oh well. We are now sailing down to Deception Island for tomorrows stage. As today was cut short, they are planning the long stage tomorrow. We are leaving the boat at 5am for a 6am start, with the cut off time of 9pm.....15 hours here we come!!  I'm going to pray for another storm this evening....!!
Comments (11)

Stage 1
20-Nov-2010 05:35:59 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010
Oh my god……this is the toughest thing that I have ever done.
We were told at 3.40 this morning that the start of today’s stage was delayed because of bad weather – high winds, snow and rough seas, which meant the zodiac boats couldn’t get us safely to shore.  Finally we hit land and the stage started at noon. It was about -5c with wind chill and the course was incredibly tough.  Mostly snow, ice and the odd bit of muddy slush, all on a very undulating circuit.  Horrendous and not very knee friendly.  It will be firmly strapped up tomorrow, along with some very strong pain killers. I managed 45km in the time allocated, which I think was average. Ryan Sandes won the stage easily.
Watching us from the sidelines were quite a few chinstrap penguins, a very large seal and some rather scary young albatross’ which kept diving for us……somewhat unnerving.
Today’s tough course has taken its toll and most of us are hobbling around the boat.  Guttingly 2 guys are already out of the race, one of whom has frostbite.
Thank you once again for all your messages, please keep them coming as this is going to be a very tough race
Comments (9)

Trying to find my sea legs at the bottom of the Wo
19-Nov-2010 06:52:29 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010
As I write this, we are in the middle of the Drake Passage and it is living up to its name – the ship is constantly rolling which is rather entertaining when you’re trying to eat and sleep!  Luckily the combination of the seasickness patch behind my ear and the homeopathic tablets that I’m taking seem to be working.  Unfortunately some of my fellow competitors haven’t been so lucky and won’t be leaving their cabins for a while….
Apparently we are now only 12 hours away from King George Island, which is where the first stage is taking place tomorrow.  The course briefing from Alastair  was rather scary to listen to, especially as the wakeup call is at 3.45 before the start at 6am.  We have also been told that the Penguins out on the course have the right of way….how classic is that?!  It still hasn’t sunk in what I’m about to try and do, but once I’m packing my rucksack with the all extra kit needed for the ice, I’m sure it will ……………..AGH!  I’ll also be carrying a chest camera for Trans World Sport so will have to watch my language !
We are all trying to take our minds off the race and prevent cabin fever setting in by playing some incredibly competitive games of cards and backgammon, as well as listening to research lectures about the wildlife we’re likely to see (Albatross, whales, penguins etc). Even going up to the top deck to get some fresh air takes a lot of balance and is rather time consuming.
Thank you so much for all your emails, hugely appreciated. Please keep them coming and I’ll try and update this again tomorrow night after the long day – not sure how far we have to go but the cut off time is 9pm ……15 hours on the ice…..hideous.
Comments (2)

Here we go.....
17-Nov-2010 08:07:19 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010
Landing safely in Ushuaia on Monday, with my bags, was a huge relief.  Quite a few fellow competitors had a rather worrying 24hrs waiting for all their kit to catch up with them.  i can't imagine how they must have felt. The hotel where we have been based is stunning - on the edge of the Beagle Channel, at the foot of the snow capped mountains. As well as a few of my fellow competitors, there is also a team of guys who have just driven an electric car here from Alaska.....!! I dread to think what all the other guests (mainly elderly tourists) make of us?!

The last couple of days have been spent eating, wandering around town and doing interviews and filming with Ash and Colin, the guys from Trans World Sport who are covering the race.

We board the boat for Antartica in a couple of hours. It still hasn't hit me yet but the nerves are getting steadily worse.  250km of Antartica lie ahead of me and it is rather a daunting prospect! The seasickness patch is on behind my ear and all fingers crossed that it does its job, otherwise the next 48hrs crossing the Drake Passage are going to be pretty miserable.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who has kindly donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.  The total is just under 31K which is incredible.

Until the boat...............AGH!!xx
Comments (6)

This is it.....
01-Nov-2010 12:48:28 PM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010

I've spent the last 10 days, since arriving back from the Sahara, eating and drinking everything in sight! Probably not a bad thing as i lost weight again and i need to be back up to full strength to tackle the ice and snow of Antartica in just under 4 weeks time. 

My knees did not enjoy the endless soft sand and i had to have an MRI scan. The results showed a badly strained LCL and they suggested 4 to 6 weeks rest........which isn't going to happen! I deceided to put my trainers back on today, after some much needed rest, and managed 15km on the treadmill with both knees heavily strapped.  They didn't hurt as much as i thought they would, thank goodness. I just need to keep doing small runs to keep the legs ticking over as i hopefully won't have lost much fitness as the races are so close together.

The kit list for this race is scary reading and the nerves have started again. After 3 deserts of 50c heat, we are now going to face -20c and have to be prepared.  A HUGE thank you to Sock Solutions Ltd and Falke for their very kind sponsorship of kit.

We haven't been told the stage distances yet but there is a rumour going around that Day 1 is going to be 50 miles....hideous!

The Atacama in March seems a long time ago and there have been some incredible highs and lows since then. We have had tragedy in the Gobi, drop outs, countless injuries, lost bags, earthquakes....I can't really get my head around the fact that in just over 3 weeks time i will be boarding the boat in Ushuaia and setting off across the Drake Passage to Antartica.

I'm determined to cross the finishing line, however many painkillers it takes, to complete the 4 Desert Grand Slam in memory of my father, while raising much needed funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Until Ushuaia x

Comments (11)

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