Thanks for your patience in waiting for this post. After we completed the race I'm afraid that sitting down to read or type a blog was a bit beyond me, and a fair bit of the trip back was spent lying down keeping the nausea at bay. However, I'm now on the home stretch, sitting in buenos aires airport with another couple of hours to wait for a flight and thought I should post an update.
So, the last stage. After a false start in the morning (I'm sure you've already read the details from others' blogs) we finally managed to get out in the snow for the final stage about 5.30pm. Most gratefully too as it was really our last chance and i don't think any of us would have felt like the race had been completed if we had to count day three as the last day. So as short as it was, it was perfect. The loop was small (1.5km) but pretty much flat. Most of us had to start out at walking pace as we were moving in single file trying to carve some sort of path in the deep soft snow. As people started to spread out though it became easier to start running.
It was overcast and snowing, we were in the most beautiful place on earth, penguins were making us laugh as they ambled along beside us, in front of us and around us (and occasionally held us up as they crossed our path or indeed jumped into our tracks and waddled in front of us) and it was just so much fun to be out actually enjoying running. I think that was the most fun I have ever had on a last stage, it really did feel like we were out on a weekend run with friends. No times to beat, no places to try and make up, just the pure joy of running.
Fergus started out with the leaders as usual and it was great to see him enjoying the day too. It was even better however after a few laps as I came through the checkpoint and I realised he'd stopped to wait for me and we were going to finish the Last Desert together. An incredibly special moment in an awesome day and a perfect finish to the series.
The Drake Passage was, apparently, incredibly calm on the way back. No 70ft waves, no rocking so much the furniture flew across the room. Didn't seem to make much difference though, and the first day or so I pretty much stayed in bed and couldn't eat. The next couple of days were better, but it really did knock me around. I also think it's pretty safe to say there's not much that could entice me to get back on a boat for more than a few hours. Ever .
Antarctica itself is so incredibly beautiful and the pictures, as fantastic as they are, don't, can't, do it justice. Much seems familiar after watching documentaries and having spent time in mountains and on glaciers, but it doesn't prepare you for the pristine beauty of the ice and the snow. Or the majesty of seeing a humpback whale lazily roll up to the surface and gently curve it's way back through the waves with barely a splash. Or the (admittedly unintentional) comedic talents of penguins as they poop, shag and slide on their bellies. And it certainly doesn't prepare you for the unearthly glow that icebergs have, even on overcast days where it looks like someone has turned a turquoise blue light on under the iceberg. It's truly a spectacular place and comes highly recommended. Don't forget the seasickness pills!.
For all those future competitors, the next(and probably last) post will include some thoughts on kit etc. which may help your planning. But for now, on to the next leg and the long flight home.
Apologies all, but Kate's currently indisposed.... After successfully finishing, she's now lying down in a dark room holding seasickness at bay as best she can. She should be back on her feet in a day or two, and there will be a full update to follow...!