- November 18, 2008
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting entries about the upcoming Last Desert race in Antarctica. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t realize that Antarctica is classified as a desert, given that the continent is largely covered in snow. It is. In fact it is the largest desert on earth, just a cold one.
Antarctica is also very remote. How remote? The continent is 1.4 x larger than the USA, yet there are only about 3,000 inhabitants. Could you imagine just 3,000 people living in all of the US? Clearly, urban sprawl isn’t a problem they’ll be facing anytime soon.
The Antarctic is filled with superlatives and remarkable facts; it is a fascinating and astounding place that captured my senses from the moment I first stepped foot on the continent six years ago. I’ll pontificate on the wonders of this frozen land in upcoming postings. As an introduction, though, I thought what we’d do first is revisit my historic maiden journey.
As some of you know from reading my book, Ultramarathon Man, I first visited Antarctica in 2002 to participate in the inaugural South Pole Marathon, an event that has yet to be replicated (which speaks volumes about the intelligence of attempting a marathon on the polar plateau). But this marathon wasn’t the only harrowing event that took place during my travels to the South Pole. Something even grander transpired afterward.
Huddled near the finish line, one of the other participants, a friend of mine by the name of Don Kern, had another bright idea: “Now that we’ve become the first to run to the South Pole, let’s be the first to run around the world naked.”
My initial thought was that I’d either heard him wrong through my earmuffs, or that he was suffering acute hypothermic dementia.
“Around the world naked?” I asked.
“I’ve been doing some calculating,” he said.
At the South Pole there is actually a candy-striped Barber Pole with a stainless steel orb on top. Don went on, “If we run around that Pole, we’re literally circumnavigating the globe, just at its smallest circumference.”
He was technically correct; there was only one small problem, “Don,” I said, “It’s minus 40 degrees outside.”
“Just don’t let any of your appendages touch that metal ball and we should be fine.”
Being the gentleman that he his, he volunteered me to go first. Geez, thanks Don.
I made him promise that if the situation got “sticky,” under no circumstances were they to deploy a tourniquet. Thankfully, the endeavor was completed without incident or loss of limb.
Now we have the dubious distinction of being in the first party to run to the South Pole and being in the first pair to run around the world naked. Gives new meaning to the term: “being buff.”
Stay tuned for frequent updates on The Last Desert Race in Antarctica. As Don likes to say, “And the journey continues…”
P.S. For those of you who have been asking when the 50 Marathons DVD will be available, I’ve finally got an answer: it’s out now. Visit www.50Marathons.com for more details.- The North Face
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