One does not simply walk a marathon in Antarctica, at least not without three layers of jackets and sweaters — I learned that the hard way. It was March 9, 2014. I, filled with adrenaline, looked anxiously at the half-frozen, half-soggy, dirt-laden course. My head filled with second thoughts.
After traversing the infamously tumultuous Drake’s Passage, located between South America’s Cape Horn, and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, having been confined to the Russian ship, Akademik Ioffe, on which we had traveled for several days, I was overjoyed to finally be back on solid ground. My joy was short lived however, and soon replaced with regret as I walked with other runners from around the world, to the starting line. The next thing I knew, the horn had been blown and the race had begun.
The vacant Antarctic island, the St. George island, filled with cheers from the limited onlookers, their echoes sounding and resounding endlessly for such a small group. The number of people who could be on land at one time was extremely limited, and the race organizers monitored it strictly as it would jeopardize their clearance to sponsor the race in the future. Nonetheless I could hear well wishers and support personnel throughout the course. The race appeared to be off to a great start, yet less than three miles in my feet were already sore and frozen from the streams and muddy hills. To distract myself from my aching feet, I directed my attention toward the various reddish, orange research facilities supported and manned by several different countries. Running on the frozen desert past the various research facilities made me realize how complex and small the world really is. Antarctica is not owned by any one country. I thought about the panoply of diverse people in each of those buildings as I ran. They were from all over the world, with different cultures and geography.
The more I ran forward, was the more I looked back in reflection. The further I ran, the smaller the world felt. I realized like never before that we were all one and the same on this journey through life’s adventure on this small planet of ours.
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