*Antarctic ICE Marathon November 2016
*Adventure Marathons: First ever Bagan Temple Marathon, Myanmar 2013 &
*Polar Circle Marathon 2012
Antarctic ICE Marathon – part of Seven Continent Marathon and fund raising event
The two members for Bornholm Runners Signe Simonsen and Jesper Floyd Kristiansen went together to run the last of the 7 continent – the last marathon The Antarctic ICE Marathon.
There was a long journey in front of them when they left Copenhagen on November 19th after having flown in from Gdansk and Randers. First stop was Madrid and hereafter the night flight to Santiago in Chile. In Chile they had to connect for domestic flight to Punta Arenas in the very South of Chile. Here they arrived Saturday November 20th in the afternoon.
Sunday 21st was a beautiful day and it started for the two runners with a short and enjoyable run along the seaside in Punta Arenas ending up with an amazing dolphin show just in front of them. In the afternoon they went on a boat trip to Magdalena Island where over 100.000 penguins have their home.
To walk around all these amazing animals was the first sign for Signe and Jesper that they were far away from home.
Monday was the day of inspection and approval of the running gear. Hereafter it was time to visit the trip organizer ALE where also the arctic cloth was rented. After first trying some cloth which were far to large they both found what looks acceptable and fur sure would be warm enough. In the evening it was time for run briefing and receiving the start numbers – Jesper no; 23 and Signe no. 40
Tuesday morning there were obligatory briefing at ALE and here they got the information that from now off Mother Nature would decide. It means they can forget about time and meetings appointment agreed for the coming days. ALE informed that one group the year before stayed 5 weeks extra on Antarctic due to weather conditions! Signe and Jesper are chocked but hope for good weather.
The representatives inform that there will be a control weight of luggage at 12.30 and pick up of luggage for the special Antarctic flight. Beside this it was agreed that there would be a new briefing at 19.30 as due to some changing weather conditions there could be a late evening departure instead of morning flight. At 19.30 the information was given – departure Wednesday morning at 6.00 from the hotel. Signe and Jesper did not sleep that good the night as the excitement for the trip now really came on.
Wednesday morning at 6.00 departure from the hotel. Short bus ride to the airport . They were here informed to leave their hand luggage in the bus and just take their phones and money into the airport building as they would get back to the bus afterwards. They went into the airport and security (easy without their main hand luggage!) then into the departure area. Unfortunately came information that the flight would be four hour delay due to technical issues with the flight. Some hours later the group could leave the departure hall and go down to the waiting bus and their hand luggage – then a short ride to the enormous flight. Up the small metal staircase and Signe and Jesper found a nice seat inside the cargo flight.
There were seats for some 40 people while rest had to sit on some folding chairs along the flight side at the further back. The noise was incredible but the flight could be followed by a monitor in front of them. The service from the East European crew were fantastic and the 4,5 hour flight went very fast.
Finally the flight was ready for landing and on the monitor the mountains were visible and soon after the huge flight landed on the 9 km ice landing road and when breaking with the four engines the noise was incredible.
The door opened and immediately the extreme cold wind came into the cabin – it was time for Signe and Jesper to set their feet on the Antarctic! How it will be possible to run 42 km in this weather???
The obligatory pictures were taken and then it was time for the 8 km drive to the base camp at Union Glacier. When leaving the big American trucks Signe and Jesper get surprised. There is no wind at all at the base camp and with the sun shining it is almost a nice temperature – especially in the heavy cloth. The staff introduces them shortly to the camp and invites them in to the restaurant tent – which is open 24 hours and where it is always possible to get something to drink and eat. Signe and Jesper find their tent on the overview and soon after they are on the way to “check in”. On the way they take their sleeping bags which are packed in huge bags.
Their tent is almost at the last row and has a beautiful mountain at the back but from the staff they know that there is almost 2 km to the mountain and the distance is extreme dangerous to move into.
First thing to do? Get the Danish flag on the tent – nobody shall be in doubts that the Danes has arrived! Due to the sun it feels in fact rather warm inside and the mood of the new Bornholm Runners are high – it is time for dinner which is prepared well by the staff at the camp.
After dinner a new run briefing takes place and the organizer already
warn the runners that most probably the run will not take place as expected the next day as Thursday weather forecast promise cloudy and low visibility. Especially the visibility is important as it else can be difficult to see where you run.
Signe and Jesper go to bed just before midnight – strange as it is still daylight but already cloudy.
Jesper wakes up after some hours and can hardly feel his arm – after some time he realize that it is because it is so cold. He takes the arm into his sleeping back and slowly get warmed again. This is the first sign that it is really cold outside as well as inside. At around 7.00 Signe and Jesper wakes up and realize that there is snow/ice on the inside of their tent. The water bags they took to the tent some hours before is totally frozen. They now realize that temperature might be around minus 5 or below inside the tent. It is therefore a very cold experience to move out of the very nice and warm polar sleeping bag and take on the very cold polar trousers and jacket. Luckily it doesn’t take many second for the cloth to be warm and soon they can move over to the toilet buildings. Toilets at Antarctic are a history itself. As everything has to be moved back to Chile means that all remaining has to be as divided as possible – meaning a place for liquid and none liquid!
No water (and no heat) at the toilets but you clean your hands in cleaning gels.
Now it is time to breakfast and to hear what the decision for the run is.
The run is postponed until Friday where the weather forecast shows sun but also strong wind. It means a full day for photographing for the coming Antarctic runs as well as some social time with the runners – not to forget some card games.
Thursday evening rather early to bed as the forecast is rather clear that the run will start Friday at 12.00.
Signe wakes up around 6.00 am and goes to visit the toilet. When she is back Jesper does the same. When he comes back to the tent Signe informs that she is not well. She is shaking of coldness but has sweaty hands – this is not good sign for the coming run. Jesper suggest going and getting some warm tea with sugar as it might help. They get dressed and soon after enjoying some warm drinks and Signe slowly get back her color in face.
At 8.00 it is time for breakfast and soon after the staff comes and confirms that the Antarctic ICE Marathon will take of at 12.00. They also inform that the weather forecast is good – sunny and temperature around minus 16C but for a five km part they will have very strong head wind of some 50 km/hour and it will feel very cold. After that a 6-10 km run with the cold wind from side and back. The advice from the staff is to be very aware of the cold wind and also trying not to be too warm when running with the wind from the back.
Signe and Jesper goes around the doctor station to get Signe checked and here is the information that it is a rather normal reaction after the long journey and the excitement. The doctor suggests taking it easy and just enjoying the run.
It is then time to relax a little bit in the tent while taking a little bit about the coming run. Signe and jesper agree to run after a schedule of 7 minutes per kilometer which will bring them to the finish line around 5 hours – most probably a little bit more if the speed goes down at the later part.
An hour before start it is time to take on the first layer of sun protection. It might be cold at Antarctic but the sun is shining with a strength which can give severe sunburns. Therefore two layer of factor 50 is necessary in face and other places not covered during the run. After the sun block the two Bornholm Runners start to get dressed – several layers of cloth is necessary to be able to handle the heat from running and the extreme weather conditions.
15 minutes before start Signe and Jesper is ready to leave the tent and soon after they join the other runners at the start area. It is time to arrange one team picture in a ring with the camera in the middle.
The first 4 km goes very well and it is almost a pleasure finally to have the race going on. They make a small turn and after another 1 km suddenly the very hard headwind hit them and they realize that it is not going to be that easy. They can see the first station with hot drinks but every meter is a fight against the win. At the station they take fast some warm water and then move forwards now with the wind from the side and later from the back.
Even it is very early in the run it is amazing how the weather conditions have made the group of runners divided. The landscape is incredible and the colors of the ice on the mountains are amazing.
The 10 km long straight part up to the next manned drink station is like a never ending part. Due to the snow it is very difficult to imagine the distance. The strong wind has made the surface like running in sand on the beach.
They arrive to the station at around 16 km and get some warm drinks to warm their cold bodies. Short after Jesper is ready to run again and he asks Signe if she is ready? “I am done – I cannot run anymore” is the choking answer – Signe has used her resources and suggests that Jesper just continue by himself. As a good Bornholm Runners team mate Jesper of course informs they will do this event together – no way of leaving someone behind. Therefore they start to walk/slow run the rest of the run and Signe fight against her lack of energy resources and after passing the start line they start the last 21 km and it becomes even colder when they again hit the cold head win as they now are wet in their first cloth layers.
The slower speed on the other side gives Signe and Jesper some unique possibilities to take many photos from the surroundings.
After almost 7 hours they can see the finish line and they get the flag out from the pocket and with the Danish flag between them they pass the line in 7 hours and 2 minutes. Denmark has got the first female Seven Continent Marathon runner and third male.
After finishing the run it was time for a hot bath. On Antarctic a hot bath means you have to take a bucket and wait really long time for the system to melt the snow into hot water. After some 15 minutes you got perhaps 10 liter water which you can add some snow – giving more water in a good temperature. Then you take the bucket into the bath area where a pump brings the water into the shower. All in all you have warm water for a bath of approximately 2 minutes – not exactly a option to just relax under the water but just hurry up to wash hair and body. Then get dried as good as possible and back in the polar cloth and out in the cold weather and run to the tent.
After the shower it was time for some warm dinner, a beer and a lot of talk with the other runners. Already during the evening dinner the staff informed that it was almost for sure that the flight back would be minimum one day delayed as the weather for Saturday was too windy for the big plane to land. They were informed to just come early to breakfast to have confirmed that no reasons for packing their stuff next morning. Plans for the coming months were discussed and at 23.00 Signe headed towards bed after an emotional day. Jesper continued talking and having an extra drink with especially the new friends from South Africa and Australia.
Around midnight the suggestion came to make a cool down run. Jesper were asked if he was in – of course the Bornholm Runners was in. Ten minutes after he was dressed in his singlet and start number as well as running shoes —- it was time for the first “naked run” at Antarctic! Five men went out of the base camp and side by side they ran towards the finish line. Amazing to run after midnight and still in nice sunshine but certainly also temperature below minus 20C! Most of the remaining runners and staff waited at the finish line and it was time for a special version of the mannequin picture (still picture). Then back to the tent and get some warm cloth on and short after the entire team of runners went to bed and nice dreams after they all finished one of their dream runs.
Saturday morning started as expected with the information that there would be no flight arrival this day. For Signe and Jesper it meant that the first of two tickets from Punta Arenas to Santiago were lost but still they could manage their Europe flight if they could get out from Antarctic next day Sunday. It became a day of relax and playing various games at the base camp. Volleyball net was sat up and the special snow bikes were busy most of the day.
At 18.00 it was time for one of the major celebration of the base camp – opening of the new toilets. It took place with speeches and champagne!
Straight after the opening of the new toilet buildings it was time for the Antarctic ICE Marathon to celebrate the winners of the run. Gary Thornton from Ireland won as expected the men race in 3 hours 37 minutes and 13 seconds – fast on these conditions but for a guy who has been running a marathon in 2 hours and some 17 minutes most probably all of the runners expected a new record race for the Antarctic ICE Marathon but that did not happen this time. For the women race we had the fantastic pleasure of congratulating Joanna Medras from Gdansk as the winner in just over 6 hours.
For Signe and Jesper it was difficult to be patient during the celebration ceremony as afterwards the 15 new members of the Seven Continent Marathon Club should have their extra medal hereunder Signe and Jesper.
Sunday morning the information came – the huge cargo flight had been taking off from Punta Arenas and it was time to pack all the stuff and leave the tents. In the afternoon the transport of the runners began in two shifts and the first one would be freezing at the area of landing zone but would have a chance to see the flight landing. Signe and Jesper enjoyed the warmer weather at base camp and took one of the last cars to the flight. It was with mixed feeling they finally crossed the ice area to the flight and start the journey back home.
After another 20.000 km travel Signe and Jesper came home to friend and family as well as contact to various media.
It was now time for Jesper to follow up on the fund raising agreements he signed before the trip to Antarctic.
On behalf of Bornholm Runners it is with great pleasure that we can inform that the following sponsors donated for Gdynia Children Hospice:
JS Hamilton Poland PLN 10.000
Berendsen Poland PLN 3.000
Wlodek Kwiatkowski PLN 2.000
FUSAO, Brazil Euro 500 (PLN 2.250)
Biocartis, Belgium (employees) Euro 320 (PLN 1.440)
All in all more than PLN 18.000 transferred to support the children at the hospice. THANK YOU SO MUCH
Bagan Temple Marathon, Myanmar November 2nd 2013
30 October at 12.00 we met the other 24 participants and the guide from Albatros Travel at CopenhagenAirport.
Soon after we checked in and just had to wait for our flight.
Due to crying kids we did not get much sleep on the 10 hour long flight to Bangkok and later 1, 5 hour flight from Bangkok to Yangon.
Day 1 in Myanmar, Yangon – 31.10.2013
We arrived to Yangon at around 6.00 a.m. local time. We knew that it was going to be a long day caused by jet lag and tiredness after long trip.
After some minor chaos with handling over passport, immigration papers and the pre-prepared visa application we finally got our passport back and could pass the controls. Luckily all our luggage also had arrived so in fact no reason for carrying all our running gear in our hand luggage the entire way. Our local guide was waiting us and short after our group of 27 persons were in the bus and on the way to the hotel.
At the Traders Hotel only part of our rooms were ready. We got our room and after a short shower we felt a little more awake and went to the reception at 13.00. We went with the bus to the lunch break where we also for first time tried the local beer called Myanmar. After a stressing lunch when we had less than an hour to finish our meal we went by bus to a temple where the 67 meter long, South Asia longest statue of Buddha is laying.
After a walk of some 100 meter we even managed to find a toilet. This was at a private house with separate toilet for foreigners – most probably this was the toilet with sitting option but no toilet paper! Now we understood why the left hand is called the dirty one! Well good we did not have such need!
After another drive – when most people felt asleep – we stopped at the Shwedagon Pagoda – the most important religious pilgrimage site in the country. Local authorities claims it is more than 2500 years old when experts say that it most probably is built around year 600. It has 8 corners – one for each day a week. Wednesday is counted as two days in Buddhist calendar!
Buddhists are coming to pray at the corner of their birthday’s day of the week. It is the most holy place for Buddhists in Myanmar as three things from the first Buddha is here: his walking stick, eight hairs, and part of his dress. On our way around the fantastic building Greta and Jesper were stopped by two monks who were practicing English with help of English-speaking tourists.
After an hour walking on our bare feet at Golden Pagoda we again went back to our bus. It was time for a nice dinner.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped for a while in front of the Lady Aung San Suu Kyi’s house. It is now empty as the Lady has moved to the new capital Pyinmana which are the political center in Myanmar.
At around 20.45 we were back at the hotel and short after sleeping – finally.
Day 2 Bagan – 01.11.2013
Alarm clock waking us up at 03.30! Showering, packing the last and at 04.30 sitting in the bus with breakfast box on our way back to the airport.
Luggage have been delivered to the airport, we went through security check.
No comments regarding liquids in our hand luggage. No call out to the gate. Just we have got a label on our T-shirts showing the logo of the company we should flight with. Later we got our boarding passes to the Bagan Air with departure 06.15 meaning 06.45!
Serving on board: first a drink and a small meal including Danish pastry with coffee and tea and some sweets before landing at 08.00!!! Who could see such a luxury on short distance flight in Europe?
We were picked up by an old bus and went the 30 minutes ride to our hotel Myanmar Treasure in Bagan. On our way most probably all of us got goose bumps when we saw the enormous street promotion for our marathon.
After unpacking our stuff we went shopping on the local market. We bought water, bananas, local home-made sweets of sugar palms and nuts.
Then time for dinner and getting our start package. Greta got number 203 and Jesper 12!
Back to the hotel and trying finally to get some sleep before the big day.
Day 3- Bagan – The Race day- 02.11.2013
After a night waking up several times just to check what time it was the alarm clock rang at 04.10.
Time for a banana, some water and get dressed. A light breakfast at 4.45 and at 05.30 we were all in the bus and on the way to the start area. Soon after we could see the impressive HtilominloTemple where both start and finish should be. Some small talk with other runners, pictures with Japanese
and Danes – we were ready. Sun came up behind the temples and the same did some 7 big balloons – stunning view in the rising sun. Unfortunately picture does not show real colors and nuances of light pink on the sky.
Around 06.45 we were asked to go to the starting point and were short welcomed by the minister of Tourism and Sport from Myanmar. Then we ran our distances. That is a pity that we could not start the run already around 6 a.m.; to avoid the whole hour of boiling heat from the sky.
We started to run through the sandy path among bushes and fields with many temples around us all the time through the first 20 km. Just after one kilometer from start line we realized first challenge a „river” of mud. We were forced to jump over the deepest water. The result – wet mud in socks! Soon after some sandy area Jesper could feel that wet mud and sand was mixed in his shoes – at this stage he realized that Bagan Temple Marathon was not a regular one!
Passing a corner and you had to stop for an oxcart- with the long horns; they for sure had the first right to pass. Several local people inclusive small kids were already out along the route.
Around 11 km it was time to divide the routes and Jesper ran after the black arrows indicating full marathon. It was going through agriculture area and small villages.
Roads surface were gravel or deep sand!
The temperature became over 35°C and in direct sun even over 40°C.
One of the most impressive experiences was a very small village where all people sat outside smiling and waving! During the run we have learnt to say “hello” in Burma people language. It is pronounced: “minga laba”. The worst was the village “highway” – 15-20 cm deep sand and together with the heat it was like hell.
At that stage (even after only some 18 km) Jesper had no energy to run and by walking fast the time lost would be minimal.
When the route was not sand slow running was possible but the last 15-16 km it was really just walking with significant pain in right foot as a sign that big blisters was on its way.
When having 6-7 km left the marathon route again hit the half marathon route as a sign that this run soon would be over. When having few hundred meters left Jesper could see Greta waiting at a corner playing cheer leader.
Here came the last corner around the HtilominloTemple and to the finish line – with the last forces and biting the pain the last 250 meter was done in running. Passing the finish line and finally feeling the weight of the impressive medal. The run was done. 5 hours 55 minutes it took Jesper to become number 31 of 44 finishing men at the marathon distance. Greta ran her first half marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes and finnished as number 34 of 38 participating women but most probably the one with most pictures in her camera taken on the route
Greta was amazingly fresh and happy after her first half marathon. For sure her 5 time per week training during 6 weeks before the run helped to build her general condition. The hardest for her was the last kilometer.
The day before the run we talked about clothing on the route. In fact there is no good clothing when is that hot; does not matter how little cloth you wear. After 5 minutes run all was wet. For sure our white technical T-shirts, white hats and sun blocker 50+ helped to fight sunburn and cold water every 4km helped against sunstroke and water loss on the way to finish line. Greta used cold water on her neck every 4 km. It gave cooling effect together with cold energy drink. It is worth to mention that Endomondo application worked on the route in Burma and helped to keep control on the route with time and distance.
It was extremely hard for both of us to move quickly during the run. High humidity and temperature over 40 degrees made the strong impact on all the runners.
Last runner from our group crossed over the finish line just some 3 minutes before cut off time!!!
We came back to the hotel for showers and to check injures of our feet. Taking care of blisters hereof one some 5 cm in diameter straight on the heel!
We have sent e-mail with information to kids and friends.
The evening went on swimming in the pool, enjoying beer and other liquids and relaxing talk with the rest of the group. We have learned that some runners received water with electrolytes directly to the veins through the drip; some have got stitches after fall and other were suffering from the heat and strangling with the distance.
Anyway most of them were happy that they managed to reach to the finish line. Nevertheless running experience all runners were going with strange manner because of pain in hips and legs muscles.
We went early to bed after long and active day.
Day 4 Bagan– 03.11.2013
We refused to go for a planned trip and slept to 8.00 a.m. then ate breakfast and got some relax at the poolside. In the afternoon we went to the village for sightseeing and lunch at a local restaurant Green Elephant. On the way back we met 3 kids and after some pictures and nice talk we had to buy some homemade postcards for one dollar to each kid.
In the evening we had the after-run victory dinner party. The party was a great event with speeches, shows, food and a free bar.
Together with some Mexicans and Americans the Danish group was the last to leave. We were dancing until 1.00 a.m. Before sleeping we packed a little bit to be prepared for leaving next morning at 8.00 a.m.
Day 5 Mt Popa – Mandalay- 04.11.2013:
We stood up at 6.00 a.m. to say goodbye to people from our group who ended the trip already that day and should go home to Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Then we packed and ate breakfast.
Around 8.00 in the morning we left the hotel for driving to the holy Mt.Popa – some 777 steps with a lot of monkeys sitting aside the whole way up to the temple on the top. Here we should walk up the stairs with bare feet – for sure healthy for our suffering feet with the monkey shit on the stairs! View from the top of the hill were fantastic!
Before we entered the temple we got to know that Buddhist life has three stages: education, create family and finally the religious part. Therefore there are that many temples in Myanmar. All believe that if they build temple – there shall be bigger chance to be closer to nirvana stage, which means less reincarnation stages.
At around 13.00 we ate the lunch at a small local restaurant where near the house grow dragoon fruits on cactuses. Afterwards we continued our way to Mandalay.
Generally the countryside was very green and people looks to live a silent modest life at their small farms.
On the way to Mt Popa we have had one stop at a place where alcohol and sweets are made of sugar palms and nuts.
Day 6 – Mandalay, Amarapura 05.11.2013:
Then we went to the Mahamuni Temple and Kuthodaw Temple with the world largest book in form of Buddha’s words written on 729 stones each of them put into a white alter.
Hereafter we went to the AyeyarwadyRiver where we got some gorgeous pictures of the people living at river side. They received in the past plot of land but instead of settle down they sold the plot and moved back to their life around the river.
At the end of the day we went to the Mandalay Hill where we could admire the sunset. Escalators took us up on the 5th floor and the view was great.
The evening we spent packing and went to bed without dinner as the monks
Day 7 – Inle Lake 06.11.2013:
Up at 4.30. Breakfast at 5.00 luggage out and ready to leave the hotel at 06.15.
Flight Mandalay – Heho was a good experience with a very nice service aboard.
At Heho airport the bus drive us to the marina at the beginning of Inle Lake.
It was amazing to see how people lived in houses on piles
and working in their floating gardens. Here they grow vegetables – such as tomatoes and wild potatoes.
We visited a silver smith and after that a weaving manufactory which has been family own during generations
Day 8 – Indein by the Inle Lake 07.11.2013:
Up at 6.30 to have breakfast at 07.00. The boats picked us up at 08.00 and first stop was the village Indein at the west bank of the lake where some 1050 pagodas were standing next to each other giving us some fantastic pictures.
On the way back to boats we did some shopping and talked with all the nice people.
Our boat was the last to leave but short after we found two our boats standing on sand.
Tage and one person more tried to help getting boats sailing again by jumping in the water. Later we were told that on one boat propel fall of and flew into the boat and made marks on the side and at one chair!
Imported silk was prepared and coloring was done in chemicals without protection on hands. After this it was time for lunch. Before leaving we went looking at some nice lotus flowers.
Next stop cigar manufacturing
Back to the hotel and relax with a book.
Most of our group has at this stage had serious problems with stomach so we decided for a light dinner with sharing a pizza. We ordered green tea and cola. We asked for a pizza Margarita to share. The waiter went off and came short after back asking if we were ready to order food??? We told that we ordered already the pizza – then she ran away. Most probably she understood that we wanted the drink Margarita to share
Early to bed after packing most of our stuff.
Day 9 – Kalaw 08.11.2013
Alarm clock rang at 5.00 and after putting our suitcases out we could leave for a light breakfast.
Our crew members Signe and Michael was also ready for new adventure.
Our morning return trip to the main marina took around one hour.
After a short bus drive we arrived to the train station where we should have a 2, 5 hour experience with Myanmar fast train!
Very narrow and curvy rails we had to be careful when taking pictures out of the „windows”. In Heho we had a break to buy some stuff for rest of our trip.
The train rocked us well and we felt like being sailing on Baltic Sea in stormy weather!
After the train trip the bus picked us up and drove us to the very last Pagoda on our trip around Myanmar.
when the monks try not to look.
Then to Kalaw – a very colorful small village with English colonial touch.
Here we visited the local marked with food, textiles etc. Later after visiting the local market we enjoyed the really cold local beer in a small teashop with the company of Signe and Michael and were looking at people passing through.
This night we stayed at Dream Villa at Kalaw. We might have dreamt but certainly the hotel should change its name. Room was cold and beds hard like rocks.
Day 10-12 Ngapali Beach – 09.-12.11.2013:
Up at 5.00 a.m., bus at 6.15 and departure for HehoAirport.
Finally our lazy days on the beach started that day! NgapaliBeach waited for us!
Look at the pictures – no words are needed to explain the last 2,5 days
She served us coconuts every day. We called her Fruit Lady or Restaurant on the Head. Jesper tried to lift the tray with fruits – it was very heavy and that little lady could carry it on the head without help.
Our trip was over and on November 12th we went back to Yangon. Later via Bangkok, Copenhagen to Gdansk.
Myanmar (Burma) is for sure one of the most nice countries we have been visiting and people just amazing.
Travel greetings from Greta and Jesper
Polar Circle Marathon, Greenland 2012
18th October 2012 (Thursday)
In the morning Greta and I arrived to Kangerlussuaq and right afterwards we had time for a 25 km trip to the impressive Russel Glacier. Imagine an 800 meter wide and 60 meter high glacier just in front with stones in the most artistic colors and shapes. With good imagination it was even possible to see a mammoth!!
This master piece (to the right) is a part of the icecap breaking of and for a while it will be standing like this and early next summer it will melt and go into the seawater.
19th October 2012 (Friday)
This was the day of race inspection. In bus-like trucks and one yellow American school bus we started our journey to the start line some 34 km away from our hotel. It had been snowing during the night and at the first hill the yellow bus had problems and needed assistance from one of the military trucks. After 16 km We passed one of the three American military airplanes which fell down in 1968 after not being able to land due to heavy snowstorm and electricity breakdown in the airport. After almost 50 years on the ground the spread metal pieces are still without any sign of corrosion due to the constant low air humidity.
After 21 km we made a stop to see the finish area for the half marathon runners. At this stop we also saw two 400 years old graves where persons were covered by stones in sitting position!
Most scary was the high hill straight after the half marathon finish line – there we would have to run up and up!
We went further on our drive and passed the start line. A little bit later the busses stopped – approximately 3½ km from the icecap. There we had a break so we could walk up these 3½ km which more or less was one big hill up to the enormous icecap. Then 2 km round on the icecap where instructions were clear- keep right of the marks.
After that check-tour we went back to the hotel and the evening pasta party. Outside it was snowing so most of the talk during Friday evening was about how to be dressed for the Saturday run?
20th October 2012 (Saturday) – The Run
Saturday morning – I got up at 05.30 – but honestly I did not sleep much and well that night!
A light breakfast and then fast out to the busses to make sure we were not going to drive in the yellow school bus! Greta and I went into a red truck and thought the trip to the start area would go without any troubles. After few minutes’ drive we found out that there was no heating in that car either. So almost two hours drive in something like 0˚ C – killed the excitement for the run!
Finally we were near the starting point and it was time to put on the spikes (rubber elastics with spikes to take around the running shoes). Then the driver opened the door and I got out ——- damn it was cold (minus 16!). We were informed that start would be in 12 minutes and a last fast decision – I decided to run in my fleece jacket and therefore my start number would be hidden.
Finally the shoot from the hunting gun started the race. Almost 130 runners from 29 different countries started to climb the 3½ km hill up to the icecap when Greta and some few other supporters went back to the hotel by one bus.
If it was cold at the starting line it was nothing compared what met us on the icecap. Although it was a beautiful sunshine the wind made us freezing to the bone. It was also very windy and snowstorm so in one minute you ran on ice and next in snow up to the knees.
Some pictures to be taken and then as fast as possible down from the icecap and starting the approximately 34 km run back to the finish. The run back was on a “road” built some ten years ago by VW. VW used the road to transport new car models approximately 120 km onto the icecap for test driving hidden from the press.
After some years this form for testing became too expensive and the roads slowly started deteriorating. From that moment snow and small stones were the surface for the rest of the race!
Every five kilometer we could get some cold or warm drink and I can ensure you that it was mainly warm drinks which were taken!
The above mentioned terrible hill at the end of the half marathon was the second nightmare and not possible for me to run up. Halfway up stood the bus for runners who finished the half marathon– it was like putting sweets in front of a kid! At that time approximately 70% of my brain told me: “Look! A bus which could bring you back to the warm hotel”!
The 20 km drink serving was even situated just three meter from the bus – but after an energy bar and a drink I let the 30% brain explain to me that the bus for sure would not be heated.
Rest of the race was just a hell and I had to walk several times when the hills else would have given me serious troubles.
After 39 km I finally saw the last 1½ km hill which would bring me up to the top from where I knew I could see the airport and hereby the finish area.
The view from top of hill I will not forget – not that it was very nice but I knew at this point that I would manage to finish.
When crossing the city mark (if you can call this place a city with only 500 inhabitants who more or less are airport staff) I started to undress from my fleece jacket so start number and “Bornholm Runners” would be visible when crossing the line.
Soon after I could see Greta waiting –her proud face and voice will for long be remembered – and it was time for the photos.
After some fast photos there was only 50 meters left to cross the fantastic looking sign: “FINISH”. Great to hear “your name, number, nationality and congratulation for a great run” – but most of all to get the medal around your neck straight after crossing the line!
My time of 5 hours, 35 minutes and 19 seconds as well as being number 58 out of 71 men – that was absolutely acceptable for me.
Just before going to Greenland I managed to finalize the idea of Bornholm Runners and the evening before departure the first sponsor signed in. Therefore besides finishing of the marathon I also ran in PLN 4219.50 of sponsor money which will be given to children with cancer at Gdansk Medical Academy on the December 6th as a part of the rules of the running club.
21st October 2012 (Sunday)
Sunday was a day of relax. Greta and I went out for a 10 km walk (yes, you have read correctly). Here we saw some nice dogs which Greta immediately fell in love with.
In the evening we had the celebration dinner and afterwards we had the fantastic opportunity to admire the aurora borealis (northern light) in all its splendor and lights. That was as absolutely amazing end of a great long weekend!
Now I am ready for finding my next marathon but also to find some more club members. Club members who plan to run half or full marathon and who would like to present the Bornholm Runners and hereby generate sponsor money for kids suffering cancer.
During this fantastic event we met new friends from many countries but especially we talked a lot with two couples from Austria and Brazil. We already talk about a marathon in Brazil in the rain forest!