Ocean is ready for a name change. He swam with the aquatic creatures of Tacoma, dried himself off, wiped the sand out of his crotch and planted his feet on the land. Who knows he might even take to the air at some point.
What I do know is that he gave me the honor of figuring out his new name. This is pretty cool because Brian asking me for a favor is rare. He's smart like that!
We've know each other for a while... basically a lifetime through thick-and-thin.. shits and giggles... van halen roth to van halen hagar and back to Roth.
It's weird to think about the times at his parent's house because I can still hear Styx's Come Sail Away blasting through the portable tape player while we played one-on-one basketball. Brian seemed to always win and I seemed to always curse him out.
And then we ate and laughed some more
The Davis house was the homebase: the epoxy, Elmers glue.
I’m not one of those people that had a primary goal of
ticking off the 50 states or 7 continents, though I'll admit I have a pathological need to get away. But after the Great Wall
6 down already, why not just finish the 7th?
I knew several people who had run the standard Antarctica
marathon which occurs in March and involves flying to Argentina, then a several
day cruise aboard a Russian freight ship through the Drake passage, and has a 3
year wait list. There was an alternative tour which flew directly from Chile
and involved camping overnight on the island, no wait list. I’d already been to
Argentina x 2, and as someone who gets sick even in stick-shift cars, the no-
boat tour was more my cup of tea!
A few things about Antarctica.
It is not a country. It is
the only continent without a native human population. It is actually defined as
any land mass or ice shelf below 60 degrees S latitude. The marathon is run on
King George Island, which is actually the largest of the Shetland Islands, >7000 miles from the South Pole, but still technically Antarctica. And
though there are more hard core runs on the main continent, most tourists run
on KGI. I’ve never felt the need to be a purist/ hero, plus the mainland run is
always the same week of Quadzilla and costs nearly $20,000. BTWthere are no
polar bears there (wrong pole), just penguins.
Back in September at the Woodinville Wine Country half
marathon I met CAZ’s friend M, a fellow marathoner and veteran of Mt.
Killimanjaro. It was a rainy day and we were huddled under a tree prerace
pretending it was offering shelter, and I heard her say she wanted to run the 7
continents. Well, what a coincidence, I was running Antarctica in Jan, and
there was a South America the same week, one could knock out 2 continents for
the price of 1. Several weeks later, I got a text from M, she was in- yeah!
The weeks before departure I was back in a dark place. The
holidays are always rough, work was killing me. I knew I should be grateful but that
only made me feel more lethargic and pathetic. The morning before I threw some
stuff in my bag and looked forward to airplane movies and international flight
meals/ wine. 4 hours to Dallas, layover, 9 hours to Santiago, another 3.5 hours
to Punta Arenas, leave home 9 AM Friday, arrive Saturday midday.
I found my suitcase had cracked on transit, but luckily
there was a North Face store in town where I got a much needed waterproof
duffel. Punta Arenas is actually a fairly large city of >100k, the capital
of the Magellanes area of Chile named for the explorer Magellan, full of
restaurants and many people speak English. It was summer in Patagonia but I
knew the winds could be killer. Walked around town and met with M that evening.
Sunday we walked around town and I had an unfortunate face-plant incident (I
blame my new progressives) while filming on my iphone.
Bloodied my legs,
shattered my lens cap (fortunately not my camera lens!) and was shaken for
several minutes, kind locals came up to me offering to pour water on me.
Got to take a ferry to see the national penguin colony
Monday at noon, the runners from the Triple 7 Quest flew in.
These folks did 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days, (Perth, Singapore, Cairo,
Amsterdam, NYC, Punta Arenas, Antarctica). They were able to apply for Guiness
records since all their races were open/ public, with commercial flights, for a
cost of $14k (total $22k with flights) as opposed to the World Marathon
Challenge people who had chartered jets and private races, for a cost of 36,000
EURO. Basically they had to land, run, sometimes in 104 degree heat, get on a
plane and run the next day. This may seem pointless to most people, but no one had to explain to value of this to this particular group.
The Southern Cross marathon was 4 x out-and-back on the
Punta Arenas waterfront (here is a view from our hotel room). All the Triple 7 runners but only a handful of us
White Continent runners, it was a crazy windy day with brief rain. Something I
ate did not agree with me, I spent the evening puking up everything and having
to leave the pre-race briefing half a dozen times to puke, so got no food in
after the race.
But luckily the weather gods were truly smiling and we were
able to fly out to KGI next morning at 9 AM. We had to be ready, dressed in our
gear by 3 AM. Got my hair braided by Val, another runner who was doing crazy
braids on a lot of the women in like 2 minutes.
It was windy but not that cold (mid-30s) on KGI. Colder and more snow in Seattle! We waited
for our bags to be unloaded and hiked 2.5 miles to the campsite, which was
about ½ mile from the Chinese research base.
On arrival we were told the race
was starting in 20 minutes. There was a scramble to find a bucket to pee in. We
had to pee in buckets and pour our pee into a barrel, and poop into a bag and
put the poop bag into a poop barrel. Leave no trace!
I had been warned that the course was hilly and rocky, there
were a few puddles but overall, not as rugged as one might imagine Antarctica
to be. A couple penguins but really no ice on the trail. I was waaaay
overdressed and had to unload a bunch of clothes, and poop, but you’re not
allowed to just go off the trail. Had to wait for them to assemble the poop
tent, and even then, the poop chute was not ready so a very nice race employee
disposed of my bag. I was so constipated and pushing to expel that I nearly
broke the poop chair, that would have been ugly.
M finished way sooner and was kind enough to shlep my bag
into our 3 person tent, where out tentmate Deborah (the women’s marathon
winner) was resting. I changed and got out to walk though by then it was after
9 pm it was still light out. We spotted these penguins and walked right up to
We hiked to the Russian orthodox church and a tour guide found us and
drove us back in the truck just before sundown after 11 pm, SCORE!
I knew we would be sleeping in 3-person tents that
evening.No matter how much we thought
we could hold our pee all night it was just not happening.
All sticky from the
race, cold, needing to pee, starving, I said to M, “if this is supposed to make
us feel grateful, its working”. How absurdly privileged we were to be there but
one night camping there was quite enough.
It was so nice to be back in a bed and to shower. The next
couple days we just walked around eating all the local foods, including the Chocolatta cafe which has the world's best churros and chocolate raspberry cake for breakfast, with an amaretto cafe (I felt bad for anyone who was not there), a local dive where I got "choriqueso" (english muffin with mystery meat spread) and banana milk, sampled local Chilean seafood and wine, went on an archeological tour with wax statues
where a history professor spoke about the history of native Chileans, caught amazing sunsets which changed by the minute....
acting like 6th graders and shopping for
Then the highlight of the trip was the tour of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. Guanacos (antelopes) and Rheas (ostrich-like birds) just hanging out in the roads.
Saturday was the Punta Arenas run, and several of the Triple
7 people opted to run an 8th race. The weather was wonderful, but the last loop I was informed the
course was short and I had 3 bonus loops to do at the end. How deflating! But
still managed a 5:22 (first place female out of 2). I even won the finish
banner as a door prize!
Next day I hung with 3 of the Triple 7 quest ladies at the
airport. 2 were grandmothers (one 70 yo!), the other a marine corps veteran and first
African American woman to run the 7 continents in a week.
They joked I would do
it next year. It is now a triple 8 quest with the new continent, Zealandia. Who
The flagship event of the BRS is back- Davis Challenge
Ocean moved it to his new home base in Olympia at my request
at the last minute, and Omaha and his GF Lisa accommodated me. After my DNF at
Antelope Canyon 50 last weekend, I had this idea I would run the Mountain
Marathon in Capitol Forest day before. I’ve run there before- amazing in
summer, troughs of mud in winter. I awoke at 4 AM and realized the pounding rain
I heard outside was not my Relax Melodies app. Texted Ocean, “thinking of
bailing the race. Ok if I still come to Olympia?”. The response, “Yup… maybe
bring [Billy] for short recon adventure… time on bike”. All of the sudden my
lethargy dissipated. Instead of 8 hours of slogging through mud and pretending
to be cool, first bike of the year SCORE!!
After a quiet morning of charts, I got my gear into the
Beast and headed down to Olympia. Listened to a couple of fascinating podcasts
from the SYSK guys Josh and Chuck, about optical illusions and the quinoa
revolution. In-ter-es-ting. Time flew by, Olympia is not as far as I thought.
On arrival there was sideways sleet but 10 minutes later it
stopped. We rode through downtown Olympia to the Olympia Woodland trail,
connected with the Chehalis Western trail which we’d done before (another post
I never finished). He said let’s turn back and it was smart- it got windy,
cold, and wet, and I was completely numb with my Raynaud’s cadaver hands/ feet.
Ocean had a Cioppino ready, the broth from a seafood store
in Mukilteo and fresh scallops with gimormous shrimp. We had grilled/ fresh
bread from a local bakery (the Bread Peddler) on his new grill to dip,
by home-churned popcorn in the Whirleypop.
Watched Manchester by the Sea and
contemplated why some people can move on and others cannot.
Next day had amazing breakfast at the Bread Peddler
Omaha and Lisa came to start the Army PT challenge. Ocean’s rules- we go by the
old criteria for the age 17-21 year old. I of course peek at the age 42-46 new
criteria, easier in every way except situps. To pass I have to get 60% in the 2 minute pushups (12), 2 minute
situps (32) and 2 mile run (23:42) vs. the old criteria which would be 18 PU, 27 SU, and 19:00 (or so). I had not done a situp in at least a year, and was
dismayed to see my weight at an all-time high since I had started running 12
years prior. Then we weighed our rucks to get 35 lbs. I figured I need to lose ~25 lbs if I want to be fit enough to do RAMROD, I imagined carrying a 25 lb ruck everywhere I went.
We went to a local track to do the 2 miler and I couldn’t
believe how long those loops were. Then as we put our rucks on, the sideways
rain came back.
Ocean estimated a 6 mile march, which meant it was about 8.5
miles. The views of the east side of the bay were amazing. The hill back to the
Thurston County courthouse was either the cherry on top or cruel and unusual
punishment depending on your point of view. On arrival (soooo good to get the
ruck off), a text from Omaha. They had stopped for coffee and had just ordered
a pizza at Old School Pizzeria. The real finish line! This is a NY style pizza
place with cool local beers and décor from the 70’s-80s, weird to realize you’re
older than Hulk Hogan in his hey day.
Ocean awarded us military pace counting
beads and vowed, he will do an Army PT test every year until the day he dies.
It keeps you honest and makes you want to be a better person.