The Last Desert Blogs

View All Posts From : Matt Mclellan

Final Stage

30th November 2012 03:43 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

We all got back on board around 5:30am after camping out overnight. All competitors had to spend a night on shore in either a tent or bivi. I went the bivi option which was the best choice as it only took a few minutes to get going after stamping down a flat sleeping area. Some less experienced campers took 45 minutes to get their tents up which provided some commedy to some cruel minded competitors. We camped between a glacier and a penguin colony, both of which were very noisy night. The glacier made noises all night; we were warned about carving which is when a big slice of ice falls in the water and creates a big wave. We were camped above the last carving line so felt semi safe. The penguins made loud penguin noises all night.

The initial spot for the run, planned at 8 hours was waved off due to weather. We steamed for a few hours and found a more protected spot. Managed to get in a pretty social 2.5 hour run around a fairly small loop. The loop crossed a penguin "highway", so a fair bit of the run was interupted by penguins crossing the track, at one stage one wandered down the track for a while holding up most of the field, a bit like a safety car in a motor race. Very cute.

A bit sad to finish as it was an absolutely unique event. We have all got our medals and are making up for five nights or so of walking past the bar which was off limits previoulsly.

All in all not the toughest desert, however the conditions when they turn bad down here are absolutely unforgiving. I have a massively increased respect for the early explorers whose ability to survive down here is beyond human.

Steaming home.

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Stage 3 - 2

28th November 2012 07:42 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

Relatively a very pleasant stage. A short 1.2km course, 600m or 15 mins straight up the hill and 600m or 5 mins down for a bit over two hours. The crampons got a good work out. The weather was very friendly, the biggest concern was getting too hot on the climb and then freezing on the descent.

We pulled up at the beach in the zodiacs which was covered in penguins. They are totally unafraid of humans and walked amongst us just like little people as we unpacked. They seem to prefer standing on top of hills and it is fantastic watching them slide down on their stomachs. The course ran next to a glacier which is full of crevaces, spectactular to look at. BBQ on the outiside deck for dinner tonight, the crew thought it was a good idea....

We are all off camping on the mainland shortly in either tents or bivvies, it should be an experience.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Jane Armtrong

Posted On: 29 Nov 2012 08:05 AM

hi honey - sounds like you had a good day today - Jake is a little worried in the sliding results as you would expect.....Jake said to tell you he got his tiger badget today and he hopes you are doing good Daddy, see you soon love form Jake, MAx says go hard Dad you will soon be home and Evie wants to see the cute penguins. All proud of you, enjoy the last big day of facing - run Matt run, make us proud as I cant bear the angst of the middle child much longer.......Hope you survive the night, I can only imagine how cold its going to be - LOve J M J E

Glen Mclellan

Posted On: 29 Nov 2012 08:26 AM

Great efforts Matt, Hope you continue the great form on the last day. Celebrate hard and enjoy the relaxation and the sense of achievement you must have. Love Dad
Stage 3 - 1

28th November 2012 07:42 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

Recovered reasonably well from yesterday, the calves are still pretty sore though. Looking at everyone else limping we all seem to have the same injury.

Saw a pod of Orca's this moring a 100 metres off the ship.

The plan for the day is a few hours of running this afternoon, back on the ship for dinner and to get changed and then camping on shore over night. Time to see if the sleeping bag does as advertised.

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Day 3

27th November 2012 05:51 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

We steamed over night from the finish of the first stage to what was meant to be the second stage at Deception Island. We cruised in through a very narrow opening to the bay which is actually a volcanic crater. It last blew in 1972 and before that 1932 so for those who like number puzzles you can guess what should be happening sometime in the next 30 days or so.

The plan for the day was for a 10 hour or so session to get as many km's in as possible.Unfortunately the weather conspired against us and we arrived in 40 to 50 knot winds which made launching the zodiacs too dangerous. Another ship in the bay was dragging its anchor so the wind was certainly howling. We then upped anchor and moved a few hours further south to Trinity Island to try to get some running in.

Blue skys and no winds greated at around 2pm, so the plan was to get to shore as soon as possible and do a 5km loop until 8pm or so. Again bad luck struck, this time the area we were to use for the course had been overrun by penguins. Animals have right of way down here and the Captain determined that there were just too many penguins in the area where we wanted to run so in order to abide by the conventions governing tourism down here so we weren't allowed to race. Instead everyone pilled into the zodiacs and we spent a few hours on shore walking around. The penguins are very tame and will walk quite close to you. Have taken about 600 penguin photos.

The scenery is also unbeliveable at Trinity Island with the first sighting of mainland Antarctica. Huge snow cappped mountains, icebergs the works.

We are sailing again overnight to the next running spot, I imagine that weather permitting it will be a long day to make up for what we missed out on today.

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Stage 2

26th November 2012 03:51 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

That was tough, 9.5 hours running a 3.3km loop up a hill, down a hill and being blasted by Artic winds. The mind is a bit wobbly so ignore the poor flow.

The Positives

We are in Neyemer Passage which is unbelievably beautiful
Massive mountains both sides of a 1km wide waterway
We have stopped running
Pushing an iceberg away from the ship when we were coming back in the zodiacs tonight

The Negatives

A camera which froze in the cold
The start of every run before a path is established and you fall through to your knees. Even better when your heel lands lower than your toes and you give the calf muscle a good stretch 20 times every minute - by the way you are meant to fill in the holes so the penguins don't fall down them
Not getting your clothing right, I left it a bit long to put an extra layer on suffered for quite a while whilst I warmed up
Having to take your gloves off to open your food, any more than 30 seconds and your fingers freeze

Tomorrow we are meant to do two 25 km circuits, one in the morning and then move somewhere for another run in the afternoon.

Best wishes to all, looking forward to getting back to Summer.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Jane Armstrong

Posted On: 28 Nov 2012 06:53 AM

Sounds like a gruelling day, havent seen the results yet but sure you did well. Sounds like a beautiful place - I hope that means your camera has not frozen for good as the kids are desperate to see PENGUINS! EVie is very excited that tomorrow that she is using the computer at school to give a talk on the race........the kids think you might just be better than an Olympic runner as you have to carry a pack as well as having to race! love from us all (including the fat brown dog)

Sean Muffet

Posted On: 28 Nov 2012 10:15 AM

sounds brutal Matt, my minds wobbly reading about it. almost half way done,good luck with the next few stages
Day 1

25th November 2012 02:11 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

The first day was a 12 hour section on a 14km loop. I managed to get 5 loops out however finished pretty exhausted.

Most of the day was with blue sky with low winds. Unfortuntately the downside of this was the snow turning to ankle eating slush after the first four hours or so. The first two laps were pretty easy on hard baked snow and managed to keep up a decent pace without using too much energy. However once it got to midday the snow fell apart very quickly and in some sections was just slush. Falling into holes up to your knees was not uncommon or fun. Putting all that aside the scenery was beautiful.

Saw a good variety of penguins who have no fear of humans at all.

Going to and from the ship to shore is via zodiacs and you need to wear gumboots in case you need to wade ashore. Amazing how quickly the hands froze between getting your shoes off after the race and getting the gumboots on. MIne didn't defrost until I was back on the ship for sometime.

Have just pulled up for Day 2, a 10 hour day is planned. The weather today though is pretty bad, 50 knot winds and rough seas, so not sure if we will get ashore until the winds drop off.


Comments: Total (4) comments

Catriona Dixon

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 07:56 AM

You are amazing Matt...we will toast your exceptional efforts over coffee at Pottery Green. Man, a coffee would have tasted pretty good at then end of those five laps! Congratulations on your adventure and tenacity - we are inspired. Catriona Molly and Sophie.

Ainslie Wheatley

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 09:19 AM

Phenomenal effort, Matthew! We hope you are in good spirits and best of luck for the rest of the week. x A,M,K,O&J

Eric Allas

Posted On: 27 Nov 2012 10:27 AM

Matt, We are feeling your effort from afar and what you're in for......there'll be a moment during my 24hr MTB race this weekend at Mt Annan (2 or 3 am) where I'll hate my bike and be ultra fatigued......I'll think of what you're up against and click up a gear! Go hard! We're right behind you. Eric

Glen Mclellan

Posted On: 29 Nov 2012 07:15 AM

Congratulations Matt,great effort. We are proud of you...Don't understand why you do it but more power to you. Stay safe, Mum & Dad
Pre-race 2

24th November 2012 10:32 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

Well I spoke to soon, the seas picked up substantially after I wrote my blog yesterday. Spent most of the night trying to avoid being thrown out of the bed due to the rolling of the ship.
They are starting to calm down now at lunch time. Still difficult to make your way around the ship, certainly have to have at least one hand free to hold on to handrails etc. Fortunately for me I have had sea sickness at all so far.
We are due to make landfall tomorrow around 4am and the current plans are to have us racing a few hours after that.

Comments: Total (4) comments

Jane Armstrong

Posted On: 25 Nov 2012 11:57 AM

Hi I hope you are not one of those suffering from seasickness - would make it an extra challenging start to a 100K run. All good here - kids are missing you madly, Evie has finally stopped crying! Hope all goes well today on the first stage, we are cheering you on from here ( jake thinks you might beat some of the other countries!!

Sean Muffet

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 09:12 AM

matt you crazy bastard. hope the 100k intro was tough, having gone all that way. one foot after the other . good luck mate.

Sean Muffet

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 09:17 AM

when you are feeling spent after your second day, just be thankful you are not doing a 200km charity bike ride and that you are actually down South smashing out a seriously tough event....onwards to the line my friend.

Jane Armstrong

Posted On: 26 Nov 2012 20:55 PM

From the kids - Daddy we are very proud of you and think you might be able to beat some of the others ahead of you. Go Dad Go ( from Jake) A big kiss from Max Jake and Eve and a lick from LuLu.(from Max) Good job Dad and you are coming a great place (from EVE). Impressive run for the first day hon - your children believe you will be much higher up the leaderboard by the end of the race ! Run Matt Run

23rd November 2012 01:37 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

So far so good on the high seas. Nearly a day into the journey down. Waves of 3 to 4 metres which is viewed as "mill pond" in this part of the world. The ship is great, very comfortable.Having said that it moves around a fair bit in these easy conditions, you certainly need to hold on to something when walking around. In big seas I hate to think how hard it would be to move.
The first day has been set at 100km so nothing like working your way into the event. Although as the organising team say it is all subject to weather. The favorite world in regard to any planning is flexibility.

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In Ushuaia

22nd November 2012 02:52 AM[(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

After nearly two days of travel and negotiating the transport strike in Argentina have made it to Ushuaia. A very pretty town on the water surrounded by snow capped mountains. Have had to break the cold weather gear out already. Our ship arrived overnight, of the four in the harbour unfortunately it is the smallest, let's hope the toughest. Off to the race briefing in a couple of hours and then on board to start the trip down south.

Comments: Total (3) comments

Jake Mclellan

Posted On: 24 Nov 2012 01:09 AM

dad i hope you are going to do good in the race.I saw you with a picture with your friends love from jake see you when you get back i won cricket.

Eve Mclellan

Posted On: 24 Nov 2012 01:15 AM

dear dad i hope you have a lovely time at antartica. I hope you do good in your race and run fast. I won big teddy bear at the mini-fete. Lots of love from Eve

Max Mclellan

Posted On: 24 Nov 2012 01:18 AM

Dear dad i think your going to come in a great place and have a lot of fun in the snow. My ipod accidentally got washed and now were of to get a new one. Lots of love from Max