Antarctica '09: Extraordinary People, Achievements, Events

G+T4 G+T3 G+T2 G+T1 Trudy and Gernot: the two Co-Stars




Rob3 Rob2 Rob1 Rob: our Guide and Team Front Man


Ramon2 Ramon1 Ramon: our fourth Team Member

Antarctica Ice Marathon

For the forth year running, in mid-December the “locals” conducted a marathon and an ultra-marathon (100 km) around the Patriot Hills. For the ultra this means four times around the hills on a track with sometimes more, sometimes less hard-packed snow. This season, 15 people participated in the marathon, 3 in the ultra, the latter sporting our very own Patriot Hills weatherman, Belgian Marc de Keyser. Needless to say that he won the events hands down in a record time of 12:49 h: he had the unfair advantage of daily practice, using professional duties as his excuse to go run-about for hours in the Antarctic cold.

Hannah

Hannah Hannah McKeand (sorry, we haven't got a better picture of her than the one from her “needle class”) lead one of the other last-degree groups to the pole, running about a day ahead of us. But her claim to fame was that for two years she had held the world record for the fastest ski trip from the coast to the pole, covering 10° of latitude (or 1111km) in 39 days, 9 hours and 33 minutes. And all on her own!

And besides that, she carried only about 2,500 calories of food per day, half of what we had. That kept her sledge to some 80kg (still incredibly heavy, but not much more than twice the weight of ours). Apparently she had started weighing about 15kg more than her normal weight, and lost more than 20kg on the trip!

It seemed like a special privilege to spend time with such an amazing person.

Kite-skier Champion

The other sport that grabs people's imagination here in these vast, kite wind-swept fields is kite-skiing. Ronnie Finsaas is earning his stay in Patriot Hills as a kitchen hand (well, actually, at the level of chef) while attending to his true passion: to kite the land or, more precisely, to ski-kite snowy plains. He is in competition with his friends and colleagues back in Greenland, and currently it is Ronnie who holds the 24 h ski-kiter world title: 503 km in a day! This was a non-stop run as part of a trip from South Pole to Patriot Hills, the 1,083 km of which took him 4 days to complete.

The Doctor and His Nurse

ALE certainly doesn't want to take chances when it comes to medical care. Apart from a fully-equipped emergency surgery room, they provide for a fully qualified doctor and a nurse. The doctor at the time of our stay is Sven from Norway, a world specialist in cold weather, high altitude and outdoor/expedition injuries. The “nurse” is Chris, a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Oxford University, with vast and varied experience outside the operating theatre: he worked in an Ethiopian refugee camp in Sudan, as a British Army field surgeon in Afghanistan, as medical adviser in Afghanistan for the Department for International Development, and chairs the General Medical Council undergraduate board at Oxford University (amongst others specifically concerned with teaching/training medical doctors).


Trudy & Gernot


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