Alright; now that I’m more cognizant, I will try to provide a proper run down of my… “run”.
There have been two self-reported ultra marathons run at the South Pole. The first was run by John Fegy in Jan 2016 (https://www.strava.com/activities/879707230) covering 50.8 miles in 13:30. (Neat tidbit was that Fegy also completed the Barkley Marathons and is featured in the documentary, and also went to Penn State). He was actually recognized by the US Antarctic Program and awarded a certificate – which is kind of surprising to me…
The second was last year- Jan 2021, and run by Craig Updegrove — according to some online posts “In a Facebook post on January 16, Updegrove announced that he ran 90 kilometers (55.9 miles) in 13 hours, 24 minutes on Jan. 10.” I don’t know if any GPS recording exists.
In Jan 2022 I set the record for longest ultramarathon at the South Pole ; a distance of 80 miles in 23 hours 11 minutes (https://www.strava.com/activities/6504837534).
I can hardly call it a “run” since the 2nd half of it was entirely walking so I don’t feel great about that, but I had some severe ITBS start at hour 3 (mile ~15) that just would not let up. I think it was because of the slippery conditions caused by the high winds the previous 2 days; most of the 6.5 mile loop was blown over…. So here’s how the day went:
I had previously planned to run this during the day of the marathon (Sunday Jan 09) but the race was postposed due to weather (winds picked up Saturday and Sunday; sustained at 20knts). I was all prepared to run and the course (a 6.55 mile loop) was groomed nicely so that it was compacted and hard – pristine for running. Since the race was postponed and the winds were uncomfortably high, I decided to wait until the next lull in weather – something the models predicted for Monday afternoon into Tuesday! So I took the opportunity and started running at 3pm on Monday Jan 10th. Below is a plot of the wind speed during the 24 hours.
One good thing about having higher winds is that they mix up the warmer air a few hundred feet above the ground with the ground air; so the temperature was fairly warm for the duration of my run – ranging between -6F and -15F as reported by the weather station on DSL. A plot of the temps (in C) is shown below.
I began my run by completing 4 of the 6.55 mile loops of the marathon course. A lot of the course was pretty well blown over from the high winds the day before so there was a lot of slipping and sliding around and it was pretty slow-going — think of running through sand… very unpleasant. I took my time – thinking of the advice I’ve heard for running ultras: “start slow and slow down” – however that wasn’t good enough and on my 3rd loop I started having IT band issues. Every slip would send shooting pain through my right knee- and there were lots of slips. I think I completed the full marathon (4 loops) in 6.5 hours — probably my slowest ever marathon besides my hotel room run.
After completing the marathon I decided to stick to the nice(er) path between DSL and the station. This is a 1km path and has a hardened footpath from people walking to and from the telescopes often. Unfortunately this path was also pretty well blown over, so there was slipping and sliding here too
One of the highlights of this run (and a goal I had) was to run 50 miles in under 12 hours. I think I just barely got it somehow by pushing really hard between miles 45 and 50 — probably not great for my IT band, but great for my mental condition at that point.
After the 50 mile (12h) mark, I decided to take it easy. I fought a lot going back and forth between stopping there and continuing on, but decided “hey, even walking I can get at least 30 more miles”. As with any endurance event there was a lot of highs and a lot of lows; lots of belting songs at the top of my lungs and LOTS of f***-words yelled when I stepped wrong (boy, do I wish I had a montage of my cursing). For the last 4 hours there was extremely low contrast, which made everything a million times harder; I kept tripping over small sastrugi, and that would really hurt my leg, so my pace went down to like 2 miles per hour, and I decided I would get to 80 miles and call it quits.
I have a bunch of little videos and clips from when I went into my aid station. I’m sure most of it is me just rambling, but hopefully I can put them together into some semi-logical series sometime soon. I also have some nice pictures from my co-worker and SPT winterover Aman Chokshi:
All in all, while I’m disappointed that my leg didn’t hold up and I had to walk so much, I’m glad I was able to get 80 miles and I think it is a decent effort. I have a feeling I won’t be running the marathon on Sunday… need to get back to walking first 😛 but that’s ok, I will be happy to just help out and cheer people on!
One thought on “Jan 11th – Day 56 at Pole”
Glad you survived your my crazy baby.