To where? For the people who have been here since the beginning of summer, May 1 marked the halfway point through their full year contract. And for me, I’m halfway to McMurdo. That’s figuratively speaking, of course because I’m still stuck at South Pole for another 5 plus more months.
Let me explain. In an effort to provide a motivational tool for people to exercise this winter, I’ve resurrected the Race to McMurdo, something that I organized in winter 2005.
The distance from South Pole to McMurdo is about 840 miles, as the skua flies. I came up with a contest for people to log their workouts over the winter with the goal of running, rowing, biking, skiing or walking a distance of 840 miles before station opening in October. There's an adjustment factor for those riding a bike, since it’s a heck of a lot easier to bike a mile than run it on a treadmill, so the conversion factor is every 3 miles biking equals one mile walking/running.
Jodi, our designer in 2005, helped to create the chart on which people can log their miles. It starts with South Pole on the left side and has a square for each mile all the way down to the right side of the chart where the finish line is McMurdo. Progress points along the way are named after the check points for the LC-130s, Pole 1, 2 and 3. We spaced them evenly along the course although in real life they’re not quite exactly 210 miles apart.
It’s been quite the motivational tool for people to stay in shape over the nine months down here. This year, we have over half of the station population participating and many people have told me that the only thing that keeps them coming to the gym is the desire to mark off more notches to inch their way closer to McMurdo. It’s also brought out a competitive side to a lot of gym rats who are doing longer and more frequent workouts and who take delight in passing up their buddies on the chart.
The front runner is Johan, who is now at about 570 miles. Sven and I had been neck and neck for a long time but he’s now pulled ahead and is at about 470 miles. His trick is to watch several episodes of “24” while cycling, which can keep him going for hours.
I’m in third place and just passed Pole 2 or the 420 mile mark. That’s how many miles I’ve run on the elliptical machine and treadmill since we started the race, on Feb 18, an average of about 5.5 miles a day. As obsessed as I am about working out, I’ll have no problem keeping up this pace, making it to McMurdo well before station opening. Plus I’m doing weight workouts three times a week and Guts and Butts class 1-2 times a week. I figured after all of the previous posts about the food here, I'd better explain how I'm burning off those calories since I don't even attempt to avoid the cookie tray. Running my way to a virtual McMurdo won't get me out of this place any faster, but it will certainly help keep the pounds off.