The starting line:
The race began around 9:20 am, this Sunday morning and about 17 runners were lined up on the starting line beneath dark cloudy skies and about a 15 knot wind. The clouds we liked in that it would keep the snow firm, but we did not look forward to facing the wind for what would amount to about 8 miles, starting at the half way (turn-around) point. The call to begin was given and within 20 seconds my recently tied right shoe lace came undone. I was determined to use this frustration to my advantage. There was also more than 26 miles yet to run, but I had slipped to the back of the pack. (My chosen outfit was, of course, the NOLS wind pants combined with the red EMS wind breaker. They never fail me.)
I ran about nine minute miles and finally was able to catch some forerunners once we turned the corner for eight miles with the wind. I felt good these first thirteen miles. Then I turned around to face the oncoming Antarctic wind. Immediately, I put back on the hat, the windbreaker and the liner gloves, and chowed down on some dehydrated bananas that were delicious (THANKS LID!) My friend Mark (a helo-tech) asked me if I wanted to draft and I, as heartily as I could, responded in the affirmative. So for the next eight miles we drafted, the runner up front would pick the path through the path to get the good snow, while the rear runner would count the flags that we passed. Ten flags then switch. The switch was not looked forward to, though the fall back was an excellent reward for ten hard flags. It was as if the forerunner's vortex would suck the rear person along.
We finally made it through the eight long miles and then turned to be abeam the wind for the last five or so. At this point, my legs were feeling worked, but I had the remainder of the dried bannanas and drank a good bit of the water from my camelback to avoid the dreaded "bonk" of depleated energy. The miles flags that I had planted slowly passed by going the opposite direction and I gave all I could those final miles and finished in 3 hours 55 minutes. I was shooting for under four hours and was very happy to hear that I was the third runner in.
Twenty-six miles. Well, hopefully, I won't have to run that distance for a while. I am very happy to have it behind me and I can now go forward knowing, to quote Rocky Balboa, that "I've gone the distance." All the cooler to run my first in Antactica on the shelf ice. My legs are still sore of course, much stretching and hydration to come before the day is out. I shall sleep well tonight.
Another view of the route: