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Join McCormick Junior High Geography Teacher Brent Weigner In The World's First Marathon Race To The Geographic South Pole

The Proud Team Celebrating Their Finish at the Ceremonial South Pole.
Amundsen-Scott Station Antarctica, January 22, 2002


Half Marathon Results
1. Ute Gruner, Bonn, Germany, 05:48:56
2. Don Kern, Martin, Michigan, USA, 05:53:00

Marathon Results
1. Richard Donovan, Galway City, Ireland, 08:52:03
2. Dean Karnazes, San Francisco, CA.,USA, 09:18:55
3. Brent Weigner, Cheyenne, Wyoming,USA, 09:20:05

45k Ultramarathon Results
1. Brent Weigner, Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA, 09:59:53
2. Richard Donovan, Galway City, Ireland, 10:10:09
3. Dean Karnazes, San Francisco, CA.,USA, DNF

Ute Congratulates Brent Shortly After The Ultramarathon Finish

NOTE: After waiting in Patriot Hills for 10 days, team member Raphael Rottgen was forced to leave Antarctica because of work commitments and was unable to travel to the Polar Plateau to complete the marathon.

Relive the adventure by reading the on-line journal entries that were sent by Don Kern and Brent Weigner to Rich Nolan at McCormick Junior High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Rich posted the daily dispatches on the web site.

Daily Reports from the Ice at the Bottom of the World Beginning January 3,2002, from Punta Arenas, Chile. The event was documented by daily dispatches which are listed below in chronological order.

JANUARY 3--First Report from Punta Arenas, Chile, at 11:30 AM Thursday morning: Dr. Weigner made a satellite phone call this morning and made the following report: He said the weather was "bad" on the ice and that a group of folks had been waiting to get on the ice since December 19th; they will be using an older Soviet-made plane instead of the usual C-130; this plane can take up to 50 people at a time, so he will have to be on the second flight, since there are around 50 people already waiting to go; currently it appears that there are only 5 runners daring enough to run to the South Pole, which includes our fearless and intrepid Dr. Wiegner; stay tune for information after they have a briefing tonight at 8 PM--we will keep you posted! Dr. Weigner also says "hola" to all of his students and asks them what waterway separates South America and Antarctica? Email Update on 3 January, 9:00 PM Hey guys, Greetings from Punta Arenas, Chile! We had our first briefing tonight at 8 pm. No planes have left for the ice in the last two weeks. It appears the weather may be breaking and a plane may get out in the next couple of days. However, there are 50 clients backlogged who have been sitting in Punta Arenas since the 21 of December. They will be on the first flight. Adventure Network is using a Russian crew and an Aluetian jet which has been to the North Pole several times. This will be the first year they have used this aircraft rather than the always durable C130 Hercules. It should be interesting. I ran in Magellan National Park this morning--did an hour plus trail run to the summit of a ski area. I had great views of the Straits of Magellan. I thought about the early mariners who must have passed through the area to get from the Atlantic to Pacific or vice versa thereby avoiding the always hazardous trip around Cape Horn and the Drake Passage. My students know the story but it is worth repeating that Tierra del Fuego got its name from the fact the early sailors saw the native's fires burning as they sailed by, thus land of fire became the name of this geographical area. There appears to be only 6 marathon racers, Ute the only woman, is from Bonn, Germany, Richard Donovan from Ireland, Raphael a transplanted German living in the states, Dean Karnazares the North Face athlete who is sponsored by them. He does product design for them and has helped design their running shoes and packs. He is the tough guy of the bunch. Our main guide, Bean Bowers, is from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, small world. He has also lived in Bozeman, Montana, and knows one of my climbing buddies, Tom Waldorf. Tomorrow, we have another briefing with all the Antarctica clients, skiers, climbers, South Pole taggers, and of course the crazy runners. Right now the discussion whether some of the folks that did not bring snowshoes should consider getting some. I don´t think any of else will really know what to wear until we get to the course and can check out the snow conditions. I know I´m glad that I have my snowshoes and have had the experience of racing in them several times before. Some of the runners have never worn snowshoes and probably shouldn´t start now, however, postholing 26 miles and sinking in 4 to 8 inches every stride is not a good thing either. It appears that the race will be more of an expedition that is to be survived rather than race to win. Nobody is going to run a pr, that is for sure. Well, that is today's email update. Will have more interesting info for everybody tomorrow. Please say hello to my students and make sure they keeping up will their journals as they take this virtual fieldtrip to the South Pole. Adios,Dr. Weigner

Email Report for Friday, 4 January, 9PM: We had a briefing this AM and the weather is still not acceptable at Patriot Hills for flying. The window of opportunity is very narrow. The winds must be no more than 15 knots gusting to 20 knots, the ceiling must be at least 1500 feet, and visibility must be 10 miles with clear definition between the horizon and snow-ice. At this point in time, our group is 3rd in line to fly. A group of 50 has been waiting here since Dec. 21. The next flight will be a fuel flight, and then us. Best case senario is that we will be here for a least another 2-3 days. Some of us are thinking about renting a car and driving up to Torres del Paine National Park for a day or two. Today we did an hour and a half run in Magellan National Park. The five guys took a taxi up to the Park, about 6 miles outside of town. Ute, the German lady, did not go with us. She has trekked across Greenland and skied the last degree to the North Pole. We ran up to the summit for some good views of Punta and Straits of Magellan. This evening we had a social hour and got to visit with climbers that are going up Vinson Massif, people flying to South Pole, and a group of scientists who are collecting meteorites. I will continue to update you daily, as long as circumstances permit. Please reply to my hotmail account at: Please email me questions. Mas Tarde, Senior Weigner On-site Update by Dr. Weigner himself! Hello Mr. Nolan and all my students! From Dr. Weigner, from the end of South America, Punta Arenas. Leaving at 6:00 pm today for Patriot Hills.

EMail Update at 7:00 PM, Monday, 7 January 2002: Looks like we will head out for the ice today at 6:00pm. We are on standby from 3:00 pm on. That will be great news. The backlogged climbers and Pole Taggers left two days ago and the fuel flight left yesterday. We killed time by renting a four wheel truck and driving north to Torres del Paine National Park. We returned last night around 10:00 pm. The rock towers at Paine are some of the most famous rock climbs in the world. We did a two hour run up and down the mountain. On the drive in we saw many Nandu (emus, ostrich like birds) and Guanacos (related to alpacas and llamas, not Dali Lama:-)). Will confirm our arrival at Patriot Hills when we land.--Dr. Weigner Email of the Trip to Torres del Paine (provided by Don Kern, a fellow runner from Michigan): Lots of windswept landscape, with trees permanently bent by the wind. Where there has been fire in the past, the bent, dead trees still stand, scoured nearly white by the winds and weather. We're in the Patagonia region, at the southern end of the Andes. We left around noon on Saturday and drove north to Puerto Natales (about 250K) where we had lunch and filled the gas tank. Then about 100K on gravel roads to the TDP entrance. Guanacos were everywhere. We had to stop on the road on the way in to take pictures of them. They're quite tame, and don't seem to be afraid of people at all. We also had to stop and watch some gauchos herding cattle across the road. Our hotel was another 14K beyond the gate, and as we started we came to a very narrow iron bridge. A quick discussion between the three of us and we decided that they wouldn't have a bridge there if it wasn't wide enough for us to cross. We crossed, the mirrors clearing by less than a foot on either side. We could reach out the windows on each side and touch the railings. People have been to TDP many times and never seen the towers. Today wasn't one of those days. We had a clear view, in-and-out of the clouds, of all the towers from a long distance. We reached the hotel, and after checking in immediately put on our running clothes to head up the mountain. It was a very comfortable temperature for shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. The lodges we stayed in were modern, comfortable accomodations, with a red-orange stained log cabin facade. The floors were flat stones set in cement in the public areas. We ended the day with dinner, a buffet of world class proportions--and prices! There were six other Antarctica travellers there whom we joined in the dining hall. After breakfast, Dean and Brent went back out running. Again, temperatures were pleasant, even mild compared to our experiences in Punta Arenas. Dean is definitely a world-class athlete. It's no wonder that The North Face recruited him. He runs 100 mile races and designs and tests some cool gear for TNF. He is also a dedicated family man with two kids, ages 4 & 6. Raphael Rottgen is an investment banker in London. He's done two marathons and a 54 mile race. He learned about this race on the Internet. Ute Gruner is a civil servant from Bonn, Germany, with the Ministry of Economics, is 55 years old, and has 2 daughters and four grandchildren. She is running her first marathon. She skied to the North Pole last year, and hopes to be the first German woman to reach both poles under her own power. She also skied across Greenland. She recently spent 14 days training in the Alps. The marathon runners are: Dr. Weigner, age 52, Cheyenne, Wyoming; Ute Gruner, age 55 from Bonn, Germany; Raphael Rottgen, age 29, from London; Dean Karnazes, age 38 from San Francisco; Richard Donovan, age 35, from Galway, Ireland; and Don Kern, age 45, from Martin, Michigan.

TUESDAY UPDATE: Dr. Weigner has landed in Antarctica at Patriot Hills!! He has lost the ability to access his email account for the moment and had to call in the following information. We hope he is able to access the internet soon. They landed at Patriot Hills, set up "camp" and then went to sleep. They woke up this morning (Tuesday) to a raging blizzard and have spent most of the day in their tents. The Patriot tents are set up in mid-November and taken down around mid-February. The camp can only hold 50 people at a time. Meals are taken in a big kitchen tent in two shifts. Most people are processed through and sent off on their adventure. Dr. Weigner and the other runners are 4th in line to fly out of P.H. to the starting point of the marathon. History will be made soon as Dr. Weigner is one of the first to complete a marathon to the South Pole! Go Dr. Weigner and all the other runners--stay warm!!! FOR UP-TO-DATE INFO CHECK OUT (link at bottom of this page, this site has a picture of all the runners too). This web site, as of 9 January, also has audio greetings from Dr. Weigner, Don Kern, and several other runners.

Dr. Weigner is back with email capability! Email posted early 9 January 2002, Wednesday: Hey you guys, we finally made it to the ice about 11:00 pm last night. We had to set up tents and stow our gear and went to "bed" around 1 am and up at 8:30. The wind blew all night and we woke up to snow and poor visibility. We had breakfast in the cook tent which can hold about 50 people. However, the camp is very full with several expeditions backed up and waiting to get out. The marathoners are about 4th in line after the climbers, the meteorite folks, and the Pole taggers. The staff has a briefing every morning at 9:00 am when the camp manager gives an update on weather, logistics, etc. They meet with the runners after that to keep us posted. It appears the best case senario is we will be at Patriot for at least 3-4 days, assuming the weather breaks in the next 24 hours and some flights get out. I gave the marathoners a tour of the camp--toilet facilities (where to dump the bottles), the mechanics tent, communications tent, weather tent, the underground (under snow)wooden hanger where the Cessna is stored over the winter, and the ice cave which is basically a big freezer carved under the snow. I am sitting in my tent typing this as the wind blows. My tent mate, Don Kern, is probably in the heated kitchen tent drinking coffee and reading. When the weather is bad it is a waiting game. We are at about 3,000 feet and 30 miles from the coast near Hercules Inlet and the Ronne Ice Shelf. Most of the tents are made by North Face. As I write this, the climbers are building snow walls on the windward side of their tents. This keeps the tents in better shape and it is not so noisy at night with everything flapping in the wind. That is all for now. I have to go help get all the food and gear ready for the marathon. We absolutely could not run today because of the wind and poor visibility. Warm regards to family, friends, and all my students. --Dr. Weigner Email posted later on 9 January 2002: Hello, to all my wonderful 7th grade students! The weather has improved and the Pole taggers left today. We will be up on Friday, if the weather is okay. The Iridium email server was down yesterday. We did a 4 mile run on the snow today and then the doctor took everyone's EKG to make sure there are no heart problems. We took the snowmobiles out to a glacial morraine lake and ran back with the wind.--Dr. Weigner More Information from Dr. Weigner in reference to questions emailed by his students: 1) The meteorite people have left for the South Pole and I am looking to find a web site for them; 2) We haven't had to wear snowshoes yet, because the snow is hard-packed. But on the polar plateau the snow is softer, so we may need them there; and 3) it is not really all that cold when you are running because the body is generating heat, BUT if the wind is blowing, I do have to cover my skin to prevent frostbite. KEEP THE QUESTIONS COMING! Thanks! The email address for the meteorite folks is

Phone message from Dr. Weigner, 9 AM, Friday, 11 January: The Iridium server is down again, so email messages are tough to get out. Hang in there with me, folks, and I will get information to you as best as I can. Everyone is gone from the camp, except for the meteorite folks, but they may be heading out today. If so, we might get out today or tomorrow. The weather continues to be iffy and changes on a moments notice it seems. The weather at the South Pole is rough at this moment, so we may get as close as possible, set up camp, and let the flatlanders acclimate. This morning we had to dig out from the snow that was starting to collapse our tents. The wind blows 20-30 knots but we have bright blue skies. We are doing practice runs, while we wait to fly to the plateau. Yesterday we ran six miles into the wind and had a tough time. Be sure to check out the latest audio on . Our weather forcaster said another storm had formed in Queen Maud Land--let's hope it doesn't head this way! Say hello to everyone--Dr. Weigner Thursday's trivia questions on Antarctica: 1. Who was the first to fly over the South Pole and in what year did he do it? 2. Who was the first to reach the South Pole, what nation did he represent, and in what year did he do it? 3. The tops of mountains that stick out from the ice are called what? 4. Who is the sea captain that is credited with being the first to cross the Antarctic Circle and what latitude is the Antarctic Circle found? Stay tune for more questions and perhaps some answers! Friday's trivia questions: 1. What is the highest mountain in Antarctica, its height, and who is it named after? 2. During Robert Falcon Scott expedition to the Pole, what did he use to pull the supplies? 3. What is the main food source for aquatic life surrounding Antarctica? 4. What is the lowest point in Antarctica and its elevation?

EMAIL UPDATE FOR 12 JANUARY 2002, SATURDAY, 10:00 AM: Hey all--We are weathered in here with no flights in or out. We took snowmobiles up to Windy Pass and ran on snowshoes back 4-5 miles. Ute and Raphael are getting worried about getting back to work, as I am, but things are out of our control. Richard Donovan pulled or strained the back of his knee shoveling snow yesterday, so he didn't run today. Dean K. snowboarded down Windy Pass. I will try to send more later. As long as we are in Patriot, I can use my computer. Once we get on the Polar Plateau I will only use the phone because of expedition weight concerns. "Warm" regards--Dr. Weigner

EMAIL JOURNAL ENTRY RECIEVED 10 January 2002, 10:32 AM: From Don Kern: The group of Pole taggers came back last night about 1:00 a.m., mission accomplished. Jonathan Silverman has now become the youngest person to ever reach both poles, he's now 11 yrs, 6 months. He is feeling pretty good about it too! This morning we went out to the site where a DC3 crashed a few years back, about six miles from here. Brent, Richard, Raphael and Dean ran all the way back. Ute and I came about halfway back with the snowmobiles and then ran the rest of the way in. The Vinson climbers just got out today, and the plane full of gear for the meteorite people left today, as well. It looks as if the meteorite folks will be going out tomorrow morning, and we'll possibly be going out on Saturday heading for the pole. Last night was very warm in the tent, so we opened it up a bit, and actually ended up needing to zip up sleeping bags for a change. It doesn't take long to get things cooled off in such an environment. I'm getting a little exercise here and there by shoveling snow. Especially, while waiting for the bathroom, it's always in need of shoveling out a bit. Everything needs to be shovelled out on a regular basis. Our tent is now about half covered with snow, and we have to clear out the entrance every time we go in or out. Ute's tent, right beside ours, seems to be trying to bury itself. She has a straight-out entrance, and somebody digs her out every morning. A shower would feel great right about now. This afternoon, the winds have come up, so we're kinda hanging out at the dining hall, doing journals, reading, and talking. Not much else to do here for the moment. The sun goes around the sky here, counter-clockwise as you're looking up, never setting. The cooks here seem to be working sun-up to sun-down, which in this part of the world is a pretty long day. The food is great and plentiful. 3:18 PM--We just got a briefing by Doug. Looks like we'll be at least Saturday afternoon before heading south and the adventure continues....

FROM DR. WEIGNER--11:49 am Friday, 11 January: Hello everyone! The winds are at 20 plus knots with gusts to 30. We are only waiting for the meteorite folks to fly out and then we go. Weather is not good at the Pole today, so it is iffy if anyone anyone will fly today. The weather report indicates a system is forming off Queen Maud Land and it is anybody's guess which way it will go. I guess it is better to be stuck here at summer camp than stuck in unheated tents on the polar plateau. Today's activities after breakfast was digging out the tents and packing all the marathon gear for the bivouac--tents, food, survival gear etc. --Dr. Weigner

11 January 2002--from Don Kern: Last night Dean, Richard and Rafi scarffed some of the snow blocks left by the Vinson guys that left yesterday and built snow walls around their tents. By this morning, the high winds had blown the snow in around the walls and nearly buried their tents, so we spent a while dismantalling the walls and digging everyone out. We MAY be able to head south today--they're trying to get things arranged, but we still don't know. More later...Don

EMAIL MESSAGE SENT 12 January 2002, 12:00 PM: From Don Kern: For Dr. Weigner's students who are asking about "bathroom" concerns. Bathroom stuff here is different. Adventure Network ships all the human waste back to the mainland for disposal, so that we don't pollute the Antarctic environment. Nothing here is biodegradable, since it's always frozen. We have a little building which houses a men's and women's urinals, where everything goes into heavy plastic bags and is sealed up. The ice toilets are housed in a plywood structure pretty much buried underground in snow. The seat is over top of the collection bag, which is shipped to the mainland. Everything freezes up, so it's not really very disgusting. The seat isn't even that cold. :-) There's a flag outside each toilet that we put up when we go in and turn back down into the snow when we leave. The snows get blowing really hard here, and by yesterday we had to step down about three feet to get in. They finally dug them out this morning, so now it's just a small step down. We've slept four nights here so far. Last night the wind was high almost all night, so getting to sleep was a little difficult. 9:30 briefing: Looks like we're going to try and get the marathoners out today down as far as Thiel Mountains where ANI has a refueling station. There's a storm and we're going to try and beat it. 3:34 During lunch we got the word--we're going to try and go south to Thiel. Weather at the pole is bad, but we can spend one or two of our acclimatization days at Thiel. We've spent the last two hours breaking camp. The Twin Otter has gone south to check on the weather, and if it's ok, we'll head out in the DC3 in about an hour. 4:30 We went out to the DC3. We just got out there and they heard from the Otter that it wasn't good. We will wait another half hour. 5:30 Mission scrubbed! Bad weather. We'll spend the night here again, then try tomorrow. Winds are blowing VERY HARD!! Our staff has arranged for us to stay in the Library and the one Weather Haven tent instead of re-erecting all the tents. 9:30 PM Winds have died down, the sky is clear and beautiful. 12 January 2002 Thiel is socked in, and it's looking like it may be for a couple of days. We may be here for a bit. It got cold last night when the clouds rolled in. Dean had a hard time keeping his feet warm while sleeping. Richard pulled his leg a little yesterday, but it should be better shortly. Dr. Duncan is taking good care of him. This morning, we took a snowmobile trip to Windy Pass. Standing up on top of it, you look down on the blue ice, and it's almost as if you're looking at the ocean. Blue water, with a white sand shoreline reaching up into the mountains, but the water is all frozen and the sand is all snow. Dean took a snowboard out with us, and took a couple runs down the mountain. Pretty cool! Some of the guys ran all the way back from Windy Pass, Ute, myself, and Elvira from the meteorite group walked/ran back from a couple miles out. I stopped at the Chilean station and looked in the windows. It's abandoned now, but you can look in and see the various rooms. Sometimes (many times) the Iridium ISP service doesn't work. So, if you don't hear from us for a while, that's why. Everyone here is OK--any problems we have here are minor. They're feeding us well, we're staying warm except when we plan to get cold by going out in the snow and playing. There are many things to do, and people seem to be keeping spirits up well. We are getting a little impatient, but safety is the main concern,and ANI is very cautious about making sure we're safe. That's all for now--Don Kern

Don, my literary agent, has done a good job of bringing everyone up to date. I have received several emails from students but am unable to repond to them all. Let me just say that nothing is easy in Antarctica. Even simple things require effort. For example, when leaving the shelter, you must rug up with your parka, mittens, hat, etc. The ice toilets are a really cool experience. The bags are switched out on a regular basis. The snowshoe run in from Windy Pass was nice. The snowshoes work really well on the blue ice, better than anything else. Here is a GFD for my students--When was the mountain Vinson Massif first climbed and by whom? If that one was too easy, try this on for size--Who owns Antarctica? How far is the ANI camp, Patriot Hills, from the Ronne Ice Shelf? Where is the only place on the Celcius and Fahrenheit temperature scales where they are the same? Take care--Dr. Weigner BE SURE TO CHECK UP ON THE LATEST AUDIO MESSAGE FROM DR. WEIGNER AND THE OTHER RUNNERS AT ICEAXE.TV--LINK IS LOCATED AT BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE. More Antarctica Trivia Questions: 1. Who was the first woman to set foot on Antarctica and in what year? 2. What was the 1947 military operation called that sent 4700 men, 33 aircraft, and 13 ships to Antarctica for military exercises? 3. What was Robert Byrd's plane named? why was it named this? when did Byrd and his crew fly over the South Pole? 4.The first corroborated sighting of Antarctica was by who? what Antarctic feature is named after him? what year did he do it? what was the name of his ship? and what does it mean?

EMAIL UPDATE SENT 13 JANUARY 2002: From Don Kern: Everybody please follow our adventure on the ICEAXE.TV website. If you leave feedback on that site, we get to hear it when we call in for an update. Words from home are always welcome. You can also hear audio clips from all of us. Also, there links to IceAxe and to Brent's site on Now, for the daily update. We've now slept six nights here. Rafi reported this morning that his dreams are being affected by the environment. He was dreaming he was at his parents house, and they surprised him by coming home unexpectedly from a trip to Antarctica because the weather was perfect and all the flights were early. That's right, Rafi, you're dreaming. We're getting used to sleeping here--way too comfortable. Would be nice to get down where it's colder to start getting ready to run. My gear is working well. Nancy made me some neoprene gaiters that fit down over my shoes. They keep my feet warm and toasty while running. The neoprene mits we made for running are very light and warm. 11:20 a.m. Our weather report briefing has been delayed nearly two hours, while they watch the weather. So here's the deal: The weather at the Pole is good, and Thiel is clearing. They're going to watch closely, but the plan is to send the meteorite folks out at about 12:30 on the DC3. Assuming that's going well, the next plan is to send the runners, Doug and Duncan out on the Twin Otter a couple hours later. Kris, Bean, and Devon will join us ASAP when the DC3 becomes available. If this all works, we will run the marathon probably Wednesday morning early, be back here Wednesday night, and fly back on the first flight back to Punta Arenas. EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE WEATHER, HOWEVER!!!!! Meanwhile, Richard's knee is feeling much better, Dean's feet are warming up well. Brent and Dean just went went out for some short runs. Richard, Rafi, Ute, and I are hanging out around camp, waiting to see how much the news deteriorates. :-) Don't worry about us--we're all well-fed, healthy, and ready for adventure-- and the adventure continues....Don FROM RAFI: Don's already commented on my dreams - at least sleeping works well now despite the 24 hour bright sunlight, notwithstanding increasingly bizarre dreams. The mood is increasingly turning into a mixture of boot and summer camp (and I mean the positive sides of each), with everybody making the best of the situation--e.g. the number and intensity of practical jokes increasing! Brent's not taking the computer up to the polar plateau (I guess -30C stretches the specs of this machine), but you will be able to get regular updates on See ya all soon. FROM RICHARD: Hi Caroline and anybody else reading this! My knee feels a bit better but unfortunately it has swollen more. An orthopedic is going to have look at it shortly.....looks like I've a few torn ligaments or something. This will make things even more painful on the plateau. The good Doctor Duncan, a wee Scottish laddy, is looking after me. I spent yesterday supervising(!) the building of an igloo. Anyway, bottom line is that we should be heading to the plateau today (13th) in which case the race will take place on Wednesday. Hope to be home by the end of the week. Bye for now.

FROM DR. WEIGNER: We are still here waiting on weather. It snowed pretty hard last night. We just finished lunch and everybody is hoping the meteorite people get out shortly. It is quite windy with about 20 mph winds from the north east. Ran out to the Chilean Station Parodi and back. Nobody else wanted to run, so I went by myself. It was hard to see the ground because of the lighting and poor contrast of surface features. I took a radio with me from Peter, the communications man. I did a radio check before I left and again when I turned around at the Station. This is standard operating procedure when you leave camp on an excursion. One never knows when a whiteout might occur and you would be unable to find your way back to camp unless you had a GPS. The route from the kitchen tent to the toilets is actually marked every ten yards with bamboo markers that are painted red on the tops, so that people can find their way. I wore wool socks with the neosocks over them and my New Balance 804 Trail Shoes, no gaitors because the snow was reasonably wind packed. On the legs I wore my capaleine underwear and sun screen and lip protection. I also have Koch cross country ski pants. Wore the same thing on the top. On my head I wore a windproof balaclava, fleece inca cap, glasses and goggles. I carried my back pack with Goretex suit, fleece top, icegloves, face protection (gorilla mask), water bottle with insulated sleeve, 1000 calories of gu, and snowshoe cover. The Chile station is vacant and closed up for the season. I could look in through some of the big plastic domes. The station consists of pods connected by tunnels. Nobody knows what kind of research they are doing. Most think they are doing nothing except having a presence on the ice or to keep an eye on ANI's activities. Last night Richard, Rafi, and Dr. Duncan finished their igloo. Some of the lads wanted to christen the structure with yellow food coloring:-) However, saner minds prevailed. A few practical jokes are starting to take place. No problem really, just a little humor to ease the tension that comes with waiting and boredom. I'm highly motivated to get on with the project, but safety has to be the number one concern. Other than that, I'm actually enjoying the relaxed time around camp. I afraid with 3 good meals a day that I am gaining weight. However, I am making an effort to work out each day and get plenty of sleep, so I stay healthy. I am glad that I brought my snowshoes, they will definitely help. I have the best pair of snowshoes for extreme racing of variable terrain. My years of snowshoe racing in the Rockies has finally paid off with valuable experience. If the marathons happen next year, I think it should be mandatory that everyone bring their own racing snowshoes, or that ANI has them available in camp, and maybe at some of the five mile checkpoints if people choose not to wear them. I don't think folks really understand what it will be like trying to posthole 26 miles to the Pole. In closing, tell my students I miss them and hope they are behaving.--Dr. Weigner, Wyoming Weendog

PS. We were just informed everybody is standing down until 7:00 pm this evening, Sunday, 13 Jan. 2002. Don here--2:40 p.m. Well, we were waiting for the news to deteriorate--and it did. The meteorite folks are on hold until at least 7:00 p.m. We have been given no updates on our trip. Richard is getting a second opinion on his knee from an orthopedic surgeon from Austria. We were all offering to give him opinions as well, but I don't think that's what he had in mind. STAY TUNED FOR MORE OF THE EXCITING ANTARCTIC ADVENTURE!!!!

Dr. Weigner Showing His Wyoming Colors At Windy Pass Near Patriot Hills, Antarctica



(Friday) Dr. Weigner called at 6:15 Cheyenne time and said it was 10:15 Friday night where they are camped. He said the 17 hour time difference is at the Pole itself, not where they are 26.2 miles away! It is -24 degrees actual temp, with -35 degrees wind chill. All the runners are testing their gear, trying to figure out what will work best--biggest concerns are keeping toes warm, and of course, the face. They are still marking the course--the snowmobile, the "markers", weren't working properly, so the men had to spend the night out away from camp, but they did get them working. There is a SLIM possibility that they may run the marathon tomorrow (our Saturday)--if the conditions are just perfect. If not, again weather permitting, the plan is for Sunday. The doctor says that everyone has acclimated well--no headaches, no loss of appetite, and that is why he'll okay running tomorrow if the weather is ok. Everyone is scared, and anxious because the marathon is going to be a "slog"--2 1/2-3 times regular marathon pace. Dean thinks he can do it in 5 hours. Don and Ute are thinking about walking the entire way, as it will probably be as fast as trying to run. Let's hope they are able to complete this first ever marathon to the South Pole tomorrow!

(Saturday evening) Dr. Weigner called tonight from their camp and said that they hope to run the race tomorrow at 6AM. The weather is clearing but it is real cold. It was -25C or -42C with the wind chill. All the runners are ready and healthy but are having a difficult time keeping their toes warm. AI took an official photograph today of the runners in their gear--perhaps that will be posted on their site soon. Dr. Weigner predicted that it will be a very grueling 26.2 miles to the finish line and no record marathon times will be set tomorrow.

SUNDAY EVENING: The race started today but had to be called off 2-3 miles into it due to weather conditions. Unfortunately, the runners are waiting until tomorrow and hopefully will run the marathon then. Stay tuned for more updates!


In January 2002, for the first time in world history, a group of intrepid runners will embark upon a race that has never before been attempted. A Marathon of intense proportions and world-class expertise. The first Marathon to the southernmost point on Earth. The Geographical South Pole. This incredible event will be an adventure for those seeking a thrill of a new kind. A bona fide challenge for those who thought they had tried every extreme sport in the book. Can you handle it?


Answer the questions below by exploring this web site and the associated links that go with the various questions. Good luck and have fun learning about Antarctica.

Adventure Network International will help you explore Antarctica.

1. How much did each runner pay to participate in the world's first marathon to the South Pole?
2. What is the cost to ski the last degree of latitude to the South Pole?

Join the Bancroft Arnesen Expedition in their quest to become the first women to ski and sail across Antarctica. You can retrace their epic journey.

3. Arnesen was born in what country?
4. What do Bancroft and Arnesen do for a living (profession)?
5. Name the first woman to ski to both the North and South Poles.

Click for Amundsen-Scott Forecast

What’s happening at the South Pole this summer?

6. Who wrote the above South Pole diaries?

See live images (up-dated every ten minutes) from the South Pole.

7. Describe what you see in this view from the South Pole.
8. What is the noise you hear at this web site?

Find out what is the current weather is at the South Pole?

9. What is the current temperature at the South Pole?

Check out the CIA Fact Book to learn about Antarctica.

10. What document governs/controls activities in Antarctica?
11. What is the elevation of the highest point in Antarctica?

Bonus: Explore this web site to answer the following questions.

12. When did the first ultramarathon race take place in Antarctica?
13. On what island did the race take place?
14. How many people finished the race?
15. What distance did the runners cover in Antarctica's first ever ultramarathon?
16. The South Pole Marathon Team departed for Antarctica from what South American country?
17. What is unique about Patriot Hills, Antarctica, that makes it possible for jet aircraft to land?
18. From a logistical standpoint, why were the Theil Mountains important to the marathon team?
19. The marathon runners had to be concerned with various natural hazards. Name three natural hazards that threatened the safety and well being of the athletes.
20. What are sastrugi and why might they be a concern for the runners?
21. "Katabatic" refers to what natural phenomenon that originates on the Polar Plateau?
22. How many runners actually ran 26.2 miles to the South Pole?
23. What is the name of the U.S. scientific research station located at the South Pole?
24. Give an example of some current research that is taking place at the South Pole.
25. Why must the Geographic South Pole be repositioned every year?

Fitness and Training for the South Pole Marathon

As the marathon consultant for Adventure Network International, I would not presume to tell anybody how he or she should specifically train. Proper conditioning is a complex process based on many variables that differ from individual to individual. The suggestions and guidelines listed below are based on my experiences during the past thirty years of cold weather running in many kinds of extreme conditions and events. These events include the World High Altitude Snowshoe Championships up and down Mt. Elbert in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the Iditasport 100 Mile on Alaska’s Iditarod Trail, the Antarctica Artigas Adventure 50k on King George Island (the first ultramarathon in the Antarctic), and numerous other races, treks, climbs, and training runs. Having said that, this is what I have learned and can recommend to others who seek out the challenges afforded by snow and ice. I have co-mingled the suggestions for both city and wilderness running.

Tips for Cold Weather Running

Use a mental or written checklist of things you need to thoughtfully consider before leaving the warmth of your shelter. What do I really need to take with me? How long will I be gone? How will I effectively deal with emergencies? Do I have the equipment, skills and knowledge necessary to safely run at this time and location? Above all, remember that no run, or summit, is worth risking your life for when good judgement dictates otherwise. The course and the mountain will still be there tomorrow when circumstances may present an entirely new set of hazards and challenges.

Know the approximate temperature and wind direction before placing yourself in the cold. Plan your course to run against the wind as you begin and with the wind as you return. Shield yourself from the wind whenever possible. On days when you must get in a long run, have someone drive you out 20 miles and run back with the wind. Try to run with a partner in adverse weather conditions. Both runners can then check each other for signs of cold weather injuries and your buddy will be around to help you should you get into trouble.

Know your route and make sure someone knows where you are going and your expected time of return. Be aware that some kinds of rescues and evacuations are not possible in certain circumstances. Plan on being self-sufficient and realize you are the responsible party.

Be sure you have good navigation skills, check landmarks and bearings frequently, and be constantly alert for evidence or indications that you may become disoriented and lost. It happens every winter and people die.

In extreme temperatures, cover exposed skin. Vaseline on checks, nose, and lips will help. Make sure your head and neck are well protected because a significant amount of body heat is lost through these areas. Protect your extremities from exposure to prevent frostbite. In the early stages you will notice a burning sensation in the skin. Skin color will change from red to purple to white. If you notice a white, sensitive area, get out of the cold immediately and seek medical help. Be constantly alert for signs of frostbite.

One way to help prevent frostbite is to make sure you are well hydrated. You must drink, drink, and drink some more, just like you are in a desert. After all, Antarctica is the world’s largest desert and it is extremely dry. You should be drinking a minimum of 16-20 ounces of fluid per hour. In addition to drinking, don’t forget to eat. Remember that your body must have enough calories to keep you warm, plus enough calories to sustain the running. You should consume a minimum of 200-300 calories per hour. This will also help with your recovery after the event.

Wear multiple layers of clothing. A wide variety of clothing is designed specifically for cold weather running. Do not wear cotton next to your skin. When it gets wet it tends to stay wet and promote hypothermia. Remove wet clothing as soon as possible. Wet clothing increases the risk of cold injury. Wool insulates well and will help retain body heat even when wet. Be ever vigilant for signs of hypothermia. Know the warning signals of hypothermia; a feeling of disorientation, loss of hand coordination, slurred speech, difficulty walking, and uncontrollable shivering. Find a warm place at once and get some warm liquids and carbohydrates into your body. Hypothermia is a serious threat because it can sneak up on you. When your core body temperature drops significantly, you are in serious danger of dying. That danger is multiplied several times over when you are in the middle of an extreme environment with no shelter, poor thought processes, and no energy to save yourself.

A Gore-Tex jacket is a good windbreaker and works well as an outer layer and can be removed and tied around your waist if not needed. Experiment to find the best clothing combination for you. Remember that you can always take clothes off; but you can’t put them on if you don’t have any extra clothing.
Wear a good comfortable pair of trail shoes that are one to two sizes larger that what you normally wear. This will allow you to wear extra socks and promote good blood circulation. I prefer to wear a polypropylene liner and Neo-socks. They are a neoprene booty type sock that snowshoe racers wear. A good pair of gaiters is also necessary to keep snow and ice from getting in your shoes. If the course includes a great deal of glare ice, you may want to bring lightweight mini-crampons, or screw pan-head sheet metal screws into the bottom of your shoes to improve traction.

Use an insulated fanny pack/water belt to keep your supplies from freezing. Turn your water bottles upside down in their holder. When they start freezing, you will still be able to get a drink by turning them right side up. You may also want to put a small heat pack in the bottom of your water holder. Do not put them inside of your water bottle. They could leak and contaminate your water. Keep your energy foods in an inside pocket to prevent them from becoming rock hard.

When doing events in the dark, remember to use properly rated batteries (lithium works the best), because the cold may render your batteries worthless or significantly decrease the duration of useful light.

Remember that any terrain becomes treacherous when covered with a layer of ice or snow. The results are poor footing for the runner and the dangerous possibility that a car may skid or slide into you. Run early in the morning oruse an alternate route when snow accumulation leaves only a narrow, cleared lane for cars. Always ensure a margin for safety. Leave yourself an escape route. When running in the wilderness, beware of buried hazards such as rocks, fallen trees, streams, and crevasses. In the mountains, even the experts have trouble telling the difference between snowfields and glaciers. The main difference being, a glacier crevasse can swallow you, whereas an unstable snowfield might result in an avalanche.

Consider another form of exercise when truly adverse weather conditions make running extremely dangerous. For a fit runner who is used to training in the cold, this would be when the temperature was more than –50 Fahrenheit. Studies have been done indicating that you can do aerobic running safety up to 50 below zero. This assumes you know how to dress and have previous experience in these types of conditions.

Preparing for the Marathon

There are many ways to prepare for a cold weather marathon depending on your individual goals. If one’s goal is to simply finish the event, a modest weekly training mileage of 25-30 miles will be adequate. However, more ambitious goals obviously require greater training mileage. Many world class marathoners average around 100 miles per week. In any case, preparation for a marathon is a long process normally lasting anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks depending on your present level of fitness. Most experienced marathoners would agree that runners who want to race well should try and average 60-70 miles per week for 3-4 months prior to the race. This is based on the notion of “Collapse Point Theory” which states that a runner is normally able to run three times his or her average daily mileage before “hitting the wall.” Thus if a runner wants to race 26.2 miles, he or she should average 9 miles a day in training. You can certainly do it on less mileage, but your performance is poor, the suffering factor increases and the event is not as enjoyable. Beware; do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% in any given week. Otherwise you risk injury and time lost.

Training to race in the Antarctic requires traditional runners to adopt a different mindset. Runners will need to adjust their thinking and their training. You will need to consider the climate, the terrain, and realize everything is weather dependent. A fit runner might be able to average only half his normal speed. Remember that you will be running on the South Polar Plateau where the actual elevation is around 10,000 feet and the effective elevation is approximately 12,000 feet. Furthermore, you will be running with extra clothing and gear over rough terrain that some compare to a ploughed field. Therefore, training on rough terrain would be highly recommended.

The Inuit of the Arctic have something like a dozen different names for various kinds of snow. Unfortunately, we Kabloonas are not as fortunate with our winter vocabulary. Runners will encounter a course that is highly variable in terms of surface conditions. In places it will be covered with 1-6 inches or corn snow (similar to running in loose sand) and the footing will be soft. In other places it may be semi-hard packed and you will break through from time to time. On occasion the course will be hard packed from the wind and the drifts (sastrugi) and snow will support your full weight without sinking in over your shoes. It is recommended that you wear gaiters to keep the snow and ice out of your shoes. In places you will probably sink in well over your ankles. It is highly unlikely that the runners will encounter any glare ice that is common around the Patriot Hills. However, much will be dependent on the weather and how well the snow machines groom the track.

During the Antarctic summer, the temperatures at the Pole vary from about -20º C at the warmest, to -35º C at the coldest. The “Principle of Specificity” states that the best way to train is to approximate the actual activity over and over. Ideally, you should be doing some cold weather racing at altitude. This could include snowshoeing or cross country skiing. In any case, you should get in one long workout every 7-10 days. This activity should last from 3-6 hours depending on the nature of the event. The trick to training and racing at minus 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit is learning what works for you and that really only comes from experience. Training at colder temperatures would not only give you an understanding of how you react to extreme cold, but also help you to adjust your running speed, style and clothing system to best suit your body. Get out in the winter conditions and learn to dress in layers so you can avoid overheating on the one hand and avoid chilling on the other. It is always a fine line depending on the weather and the intensity of your activity.

It is important to remember that your aim should be to complete this extreme marathon comfortably and safely and the best way to do that is with a long training build-up. The training schedule listed below is a guideline only. For more information, see, and other web sites listed on ANI’s information sheet.

Modest weekly mileage totals (around 25-30 miles). Include two long runs spread across the week. You could do one run midweek and do the other run on the weekend. At the beginning of training, these long runs could be 6 miles or so. As the weeks progress, gradually increase them e.g. Week Two would be 6 and 8 miles, Week Three 7 and 9 miles, Week Four 7 and 10 miles, gradually increasing until your two runs are around 12 and 18 miles. You may want to think in terms of hours, rather than distance. Remember that during the South Pole Marathon you will be on your feet and moving for five to ten hours. The shorter runs only need to be between 3 and 6 miles, but try to do these runs on rough terrain. Include one day of faster running and/or integrate pickups into your regular runs. Try to run about five or six days each week. It is not necessary to run the full marathon distance in practice – the longest distance recommended is 23 miles. You should not do any of these long runs the last two to three weeks before the race. The last week before the race should include easy running which includes about half of your normal mileage or time.

Finishers from Antarctica's First Ultramarathon, Antarctica Artigas Adventure 50km, King George Island, 13 February 1999

  • Dave Kanners, 52, Rochester, Michigan, 6:06
  • Jim Wholey, 52, Saratoga, California, 6:16
  • Tad Lancucki, 49, London, England, 6:18
  • Raymond Nyce, 47, Parker, Colorado, 6:50
  • Brent Weigner, 49, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 6:57
  • Mary Ritz, 44, Gooding, Idaho, 7:21
  • Louise Wholey, 57, Saratoga, California, 7:25

Polar Running Links

Read about the world's first ultramarathon to the South Pole
What is the current weather at the South Pole?
Investigate the CIA World Fact Book to learn about Antarctica.
Find out what current activities are going on at Amundsen-Scott Station
Source for Antarctic news and information
Should Antarctica become a world park?
Antarctic Non-Government Activity News
Classroom Antarctica
7 Continents Quest
Wyoming Marathon Races
Take Antarctica Quiz
Sports Ilustrated Story on the South Pole Marathon
Read Bio of First Person To Run Ultramarathons at both Poles
World's Northern Most Ultra Race Results 2005
Sports Ilustrated Story, Part Two
2003 North Pole Marathon Expedition