The Last Desert Blogs

View All Posts From : Matthew Donovan

Today's The Last Day.

30th November 2012 04:15 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Well it look like we've made it. Today it 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 greatful to be apart 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 definatly 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 were 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 sence of humour with this one because the coarse was 600m straight up a massive hill and them 600m straight down. Dad was using him 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 sence 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 sureal experience. Unfortunatly i can't say i slept under the star in antarctic because there wer 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 exicuted this perfectly.

Today we have been disrupted by the wheather 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 comfirmed yet. The whether 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 todays stage and after we finish the 4 Deserts Grand Slam! YEWWW!

Comments: Total (8) comments

Ronaye Brennan

Posted On: 01 Dec 2012 06:00 AM

Hi Matt, well what I say OMG you all did it. Congratulations to you all, we are thinking of you of there in the cold, here its 36 degress. Take care coming home and see you soon. Ronaye, Mike, Chris, Nick & Jsh

Cameron Dyer

Posted On: 02 Dec 2012 04:30 AM

Hey mate. Awesome work brother! Massive congratulations for the year and for the grand slam. Enjoy the last few days and the journey home. The trip sounds amazing man can't wait to hear all about it when you get home on the 6th!!

Kristen Stokes

Posted On: 02 Dec 2012 11:46 AM

WOW Can't imagine sleeping the snow in the bright nightlight! Hope you got to have your last run and it was all good. Congratulations on your massive achievements. Cheers. Kristen

Emma David

Posted On: 02 Dec 2012 12:03 PM

What an adventure! I am so proud of u and your dad! Xo

Leanne Dyer

Posted On: 02 Dec 2012 21:48 PM

Hey Matty, you have not only done it but you have made history! How proud you must be....... I am so excited for you, relieved that it's over & so very proud of your amazing achievements that you have worked hard for. Good on you darling, you deserve the titles that you now have, congratulations!

Laura Impey

Posted On: 02 Dec 2012 23:49 PM

Matt!!! Congratulations, what an amazing effort and what a year you have had! You have learnt so much about yourself and what you are capable of. You, Dad and the team should be so proud of what you have achieved together, I know we are! Have a safe trip home, and I can't wait to catch up with you and hear all about your adventures! Stay safe, love Lau

Raylene Donovan

Posted On: 03 Dec 2012 02:14 AM

Hi mate.4 Deserts Grand Slam.WOW!Done and youngest ever.You are truely inspiring and to share this journey with dad will stay with you forever.Congradulations. Relax and enjoy the celebrations. Can't wait to have you home. Love and miss you heaps.

Steve Donovan

Posted On: 03 Dec 2012 02:26 AM

Hey Matt. You are inspirational. I'm glad you and dad are all done now. I'm excited to join you for the run next year. Have a safe trip home and I'll see you soon.
Stage 3 Update

27th November 2012 04:06 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Hello again everyone from home. Thought I would start off by saying that I'm currently looking out the window of the ship and watching a pod of killer whales cruise by. Pretty cool.. I'm not going to lie. There would be about 5-6 of then and we have been following them for about 10 minutes. Like I said before.. I know it sounds a lot like a holiday!

Yesterday was stage 3 and it went according to plan. We were set ashore on a 3.2 km circut and were given 8.5 hours to cover as much distance as we could. Dad took his polls this time which helped get him up the massive hill in the middle of the track. I took it on myself to stay behind him and physically push him along so we were moving at a quicker pace. We managed to cover about 45km in the snow. I think most of the competitors would agree that moving through the snow down here is much harder than moving throuh the sand in the Sahara. Even given the heat.

In about 10 mins we will have a breifing for todays plan. Wheather is overcast but no wind so it looks like we will be going ashore again to get it done. Today we are doing 2 stages... one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Obviously both will be a little shorter than what we have done so far but still may get in 5 - 6 hours total. After running two separate stages today we are meant to be sleeping off the ship on the ice on the mainland. We have had it pretty easy so far compared to the other deserts so im kinda looking forward to roughing it a little and sleeping under the stars.

I will post another blog soon. Keep sending your messages and maybe a little news from home :)

Comments: Total (9) comments

Mark Moala

Posted On: 28 Nov 2012 16:26 PM

Hey Matt

Laura Impey

Posted On: 28 Nov 2012 21:51 PM

Hey Matt... I'm sooooooo jealous of all the wildlife you are seeing, particularly the killer whales, they must be amazing! Sounds like you guys are bludging down there on your 'holiday' :p Hope you are having an awesome time, would be seriously cool to sleep under the stars, they will be so bright. Scenery sounds just beautiful too. Some news from home: mum & Steve are off to a diabetes lunch at parliament house today, weathers meant to be really hot over the weekend (33 degrees +), and Mitch had a car accident (he's totally fine, car not so fine). Apart from that all is good and same old :) Wishing you all the best for the next few days, and keep warm camping out! Love Lau xoxo

Michael Covey

Posted On: 28 Nov 2012 23:41 PM

Hey brother. Hope all is going well. Sounds like your doing well mate so keep up the good work! Talk to you soon bud. Covey

Cameron Dyer

Posted On: 29 Nov 2012 02:21 AM

Hey mate, sound's unreal! The scenery sounds awesome. Hope James is getting some good footage. No real news from back here. Keep it up mate look forward to having you home on the 6th. We still camping on the 7th?? ha jokes! Take care. Talk soon.

Mitch Impey

Posted On: 29 Nov 2012 03:42 AM

Sounds like you guys are having it easy this time, resting on the boat. Good luck on the next stage, doesnt sound like you need it.

Raylene Donovan

Posted On: 29 Nov 2012 09:27 AM

Hi Mate. Laura pretty well summed up everything. Not a lot going on here. Look forward each day to your blogs (two went up together). Mitch is okay, please reassure dad. Steve and I did our bit for JDRF, which was great. Your year long adventure is about to come to an end, so enjoy your last few days. So proud of you and you are such an inspiration. Lois and Chris from Sofias send thier best wishes. Love and miss you heaps.

Janet David

Posted On: 29 Nov 2012 20:47 PM

Sounds like you are having a great run. Fantastic x good luck for the rest of your journey and enjoy the wonderful scenery. Take care of yourselves, Janet, Lloyd and Gareth xx ps. Good story in the Manly Daily and Beth said she would put a write up in St. Augustine's newsletter.

Emma David

Posted On: 30 Nov 2012 07:38 AM

Sounds like u r having such a wonderful time. This is definitely something you ate going to look back on as a highlight of your life. Good luck with the camping and don't get frost bite! Love u xo

Yuanyuan Ke

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Stage 2 Was A Little Easier!

26th November 2012 04:06 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Hey everyone from home. Yesterday we rocked up to Deception Island where the wheather was pissed off. Deception Island is an active volcano with an old whaling station on the shore. The island itself had a huge inlet and was kinda shaped like a dounut with a bite taken out of it, so we could cruze right inside to the middle of the island (google it if that didnt make sence). The wind was pushing about 50 knots/80km per hour so it was a little too dangerous to be out there for too long. Instead we were taken to another location about 7 hours away where there was a chance we could get in a few hour running before the sun went down. 

When we eventually got to this place the sun was out and absolutly no wind. You could just about tolerate it with shorts and a t-shirt. It just showed how variable the wheather is down here. The island itself was real small, about as big as 6-8 football feilds which would make for a very small circuit. The other thing was that there were about a billion penguins and thebiologist onboard borbid us from running and disturbing them. Instead we took the zodiacs to the island and hung out with the wildlife for a couple of hours. A little more enjoyable then running around in circles all afternoon.

Right now we are about an hour from our new destination and it looks very likey we will be doing another long day of about 8 - 10 hours to make up for the missed stage. 

It try and describute what im looking at right now. We are cruising through a tight channel with a mountain range on either side, covered in ice and massive iceburges the whole way through. The sun is intensite and the colour of the water and iceburges are a bright blue colour. The white of the ice is so bright is almost hurts the eyes. 

I know it sounds a little like a holiday at the moment but im hopeing we can do another 50 - 60 km today.

Anyways, thats all from me right now. Stay tuned for our second bout of running!

Comments: Total (1) comments

Emma David

Posted On: 30 Nov 2012 07:32 AM

Hey! I've been looking at all the photos and it looks absolutely amazing! Especially that one of you and your dad with all those penguins! I'm so unbelievably jealous. Have u found a way of bringing me a penguin home yet? Lol. So proud of you. Enjoy it! Xo
Long Day Stage 1

25th November 2012 01:30 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Hello everyone at home. For me it is the morning after the long day. To give you the breif yesterday we had near perfect wheather and were able to get in a full day of running. We had 12 hours to cover as much ground as we could over a 14 km loop. at the end of the day the Team had covered about 70km. The morning started really good and we were about to move along at a steady pace. As the day heated up and the snow/ice became aa little softed things started to slow down a bit. There were parts of the coarse where the soft surface meant that every step you took there was a 50/50 chance of sinking to half way down your leg. Obviously the heavier running had more problems than the lighter ones!

The cut off time for last nights stage was 8:30pm. On your last loop we can into the checkpoint at 8:00pm and decided to push on and clock up another 7 km taking our total to ~ 70 km. A lot of people were very suprised by the because there was only a little bit of time to go. The last 7 km were very slow and the temperature dropped very fast as the sun fell bellow the horizon. Just to give you an idea, our cameraman stuck with us the whole way just to shoot some whalebones that were ourside one of the scientific bases. 7km march for a 15 second shoot... thats efficient! By the time we arrived back at the checkpoint all runners had been taken back to the ship and we were the last to be recovered.

Right now I am sitting in a breifing and am a little unsure if we will be let out today seeing as its super windy outside (50 nots). Deception island (where we were set to land today) is locked in by ice an unaccessable by zodiac. I will update later as to were we will go next. Anyways i'll end it there. I'm kinda happy today is a writeoff because it looks pretty gnarley outside. I wish I could upload a couple of pictures of some of the red roar faces that were hammered by sun. Irish expidition leader describes his own face "akin to a smacked backside".

Hope all is well at home. Keep sending the comments as I look forward to reading about things for home :)

Comments: Total (8) comments

Willem Pennings

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 01:43 AM

Matt, I hope you and the team are not completely lobstered up. You should still have a good base from the Sahara! Best to you and the team. Willem

Steve Donovan

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 03:59 AM

Hey Matt, Great effort for the first day. Have a nice rest for the off day and good luck for the rest of the race. I'll keep reading your following posts.

Raylene Donovan

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 07:13 AM

Hi mate, glad you had great running weather for stage 1. Awesome distance covered. Enjoy this fantastic experience. Wishing the next stage goes just as well for you all, especially after having a rest day. So proud of you and love you heaps :D

Matthew David

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 07:20 AM

Well done! Sounds amazing. U are so lucky to be part of the small handful of people that have seen that part of the world. Good luck for the next leg and hope the weather is better. Love u! Xo

Emma David

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 07:24 AM

Oops if u haven't already guessed that comment from "Matthew David" was from me. Too early in the morning to be writing comments! :)

Chris Follett

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 11:00 AM

Hi Matt, sounds awesome. Can't wait to see photos. Good luck with the next stage. Thinking of you and the team.6

Ronaye Brennan

Posted On: 28 Nov 2012 09:15 AM

Hi Matt, read your blog, you and the Team are doing an awesome run. All the best for Stage 3 and we will keeping reading the blogs. Take care. Ronaye

Yuanyuan Ke

Posted On: 21 Oct 2014 14:47 PM

Crossing The Passage

24th November 2012 10:34 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Hello everyone from home. I hope this reaches you all.

The last two days have been spent on the ship making the 1000km voyage accrossing the passage towards our first landing spot: King George Island. Tomorrow morning when we arrive there we will be let out for the first stage which is estimated to be about 100km. I have to admit I feel very underprepared with zero experience in running in the cold. I have been powering through Cas and Jonsey's latestbook: Crossing the Ice. From this book I have picked up some wisdom regarding physical exhurstion in the cold.
No.1 - Get Fat!
Unfortunatly left this a little too late but it could have been a fun thing to do anyway. Both these guys put on and lost about 25kg each. I have to say our adventure is not quite that extreme, and theirs very inspiring.
No.2 - You sweat, You die.
I understand completely what they mean but this but putting it into practice with be another thing all together. If you happen to get your cloths wet from sweating and then have to stop for whatever reason, within a very short time the moisture in the clothing turns to ice and you are essentially wearing your body bag. I should be ok with this but dad may have issues because he sweats like crazy. Fun times ahead!
No.3 - Conditions change.
From reading the book and getting reports from other past runners and race organisers the wheather down here can change very very quickly. There can be situations when you are running with only light base layer clothing and the temps can be up to 5 degrees C, and freak changes in whether can come up very quickly where the temp drops suddenly and wind storms come through. This could meet facing temps as low as -20 degrees. We have been told that when the temp drops to -20 degrees we are pulled from the coarse.
We have been told we are largely goverened by the wheather and we have to be very flexible and patient.

Apart from that the last two dayson the ship have been pretty cool. Every now and the I venture onto the deck to check it out and nearly get blown overboard (pictures to come). It's a mission getting ready just to go outside and hard to stay out there longer than 10 mins because you are being pelted with water from the sea, ice from the sky and gail force winds. The passage has been pretty rough (by my standards) although we have been told we are lucky to have got a "nice" crossing. Heaps for people have got sea sick and been in their rooms most of the trip. I'm pretty stoked that I'm not one of them!

Next time I read your comments I would have run the first stage of the race! I very much look forward to that! Keep the comments coming.

@ Mum - Dad's fine
@ Steve - Don't forget to post URL to my FB wall with some type of message.
@ Emma - Thinking of you xo

Comments: Total (9) comments

Laura Impey

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 03:46 AM

Hey Matt, good luck for stage one, hoping all goes well and that no-one sweats too much! Hopefully the weather stays nice and you can try enjoy the scenery and any wildlife too. All the best, look forward to reading your next blog :)

Ryan Grant

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 03:55 AM

hey Matt, Good luck with the cold! Keep the blog posts coming.

Raylene Donovan

Posted On: 25 Nov 2012 12:44 PM

Hi mate. You are just as inspiring as Cas

Alina B

Posted On: 25 Nov 2012 12:47 PM

Hi Matt - I don't know how I feel about lesson #2, but I certainly like #1! Wishing you and the JDRF team all the best on your final Grand Slam race. It's been incredible watching you all this year - from what seemed like an effortless Atacama to the sickness in the Gobi to the heat issues in the Sahara. Keep up the phenomenal effort and enjoy the trip! Cheers, Alina

Steve Donovan

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 02:13 AM

Hey Matt, Best of luck for stage 1. I'm thinking of you and hope it all goes well. Have fun

Scott Stefl

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 02:46 AM

Matt, I was thinking of you running my 1/2 marathon trail run yesterday. It was a hot day and I only did a half. I am impressed with how you and your team have done 250km in 3 deserts and going for a cold run now. I wish you the best of luck in your final journey of the year and look forward to your comments along the way. Stay safe!

Emma David

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 07:30 AM

Hey! Wow sounds so exciting and scary. Glad we ate so much chocolate in London to fatten u up a bit! By now u would have done the first leg. Hope it went well and that u have seen some amazing scenery. Thinking of u too and Missing u so much! Good luck and stay safe xoxo

Mitch Impey

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 23:04 PM

Good luck for the rest of the race mate. saw you guys finished the first stage. I've seen how much you eat. if you arent fat yet i dont think you can get fat.

Cameron Dyer

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 23:43 PM

And they're off and racing... Good luck mate. Shame you didn't read that book a couple of months ago - watching you try to put on 25kg of fat would have been most amusing. Good luck mate, stay safe.
Today Ushuaia, Tomorrow Antarctica!

22nd November 2012 02:27 AM[(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Hey everyone at home! I hope you receive this well. Just though I would give a little update so far before getting on the boat his afternoon and making the two and a half day voyage to the Antarctic peninsula! We arrived on Sunday morning. The group was short two bags which were left in some other South American airport and I started to get a little sick. I'm pretty sure it was the airport food that had me vomiting and running to the loo all Sunday. After getting next to no sleep for 2 days this was not a great way to recharge the batteries. I bombed a couple of heaven antibiotics which seemed to fix the situation and I'm happy to report I feel 100 percent. We have spent a few days getting to know Ushuaia a little better. We have been for a run out to a glacier about 10km from where we are staying and have also taken a hire car to the national park which was stunning. The ant isolation is building as we are preparing to board the ship this arvo. I've got enough things to keep my mind occupied and hopefully enough means to keep the sea sickness away. Past competitors have told some horror stories about crossing the passage. I'm just hoping our experience is a little better and much more enjoyable. Whatever the case, stay tuned for more info in the next couple of days! Until then!!

Comments: Total (1) comments

Leanne Dyer

Posted On: 23 Nov 2012 10:48 AM

Hey Matty, great to hear that you are feeling better.Hopfully the dramas are over