Antarctic Marathon
25th Wedding Anniversary Trip
Feb 1999

We have pictures! Louise's Photos are from throw away cameras and Jim's slides are from a very nice camera. Our Plustek scanner takes both photos and slides!

The Antarctic trip to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary was great! We traveled aboard the Akademic Ioffe (yah-fee), a Russian research vessel, which had luxury accommodations. We had a large room with a large window which could be opened for great pictures. The captain and his mates maintained an open bridge for the whole trip, which allowed us to talk to them, follow the our travels on the navigation charts and instruments, and view the sights from an excellent warm dry viewpoint.

Our journey took us to islands on both the East and West of the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as to a couple of locations on the peninsula. Included were Aitcho, Paulet, King George, Deception, and Peterman Islands, all above the Antarctic Circle. Below the circle and inland on Antarctica there is little wildlife. The islands and their surrounding waters are alive with birds, seals and whales for superb wildlife viewing!

We visited many penguin rookeries for the Chinstrap, Gentoo, and Adelie penguins. The young ones were about two months old, nearly full grown, and shedding their last down fuzz in preparation for their first swim. We watched them swim (like porpoises) walk, jump, climb, and feed their young, and listened to their almost constant chatter. The beaches also had many elephant and fur seals. We saw crabeater seals and the fearsome leopard seals on ice and in the water.

The birds were magnificent. The albatross is incredible - huge, graceful, gliding through the air with no apparent motion. We saw many varieties. Petrels were everywhere, in the air, sweeping over their nesting cliffs, sitting in nests with their young. None of these animals have human predators. You have to be very careful on land not to step on them! They do not flee from people, though the fur seals do growl if they notice you within 10 feet of them.

The whales were frequent visitors. The humpbacks put on a special show for us when we were on the Zodiacs, swimming about and giving us the eye. Those heads are sure big! We also saw Minke's and "false" killer whales. They are magnificent creatures that deserve preservation. Extinction is forever. We do not want that! Also from the Zodiacs we could photograph brightly colored icebergs and travel the shoreline of ice cliffs watching parts crash into the sea with a thunderous roar.

The marathon was a great success! The weather turned sunny and relatively warm. Most of the mud dried up after the first outbound leg. We ran from Uruguay through Russia, then Chile and China and got our passports stamped by them. The return from the climb up the glacier offered spectacular views of the area. We both completed both the marathon and an informal 50K. The winner finished in about 3:43, not so fast for one who normally runs 2:20. Jim took 5:06, slower than his usual pace because he chose to run with a member of the crew of a Russian ketch that was anchored at the island. They are circumnavigating the planet North to South. Louise took 6:16 for the marathon which included couple of extra miles to the end of the airstrip and back following a pack of lost strays. Many thanks to Thom Gilligan and his team from Marathon Tours of Boston for staging this spectacular event!

The highlight of the return voyage was rounding Cape Horn. Our trip included wonderful long display in the bow pressure wave by hourglass dolphins. One particularly frisky dolphin enjoyed flipping on its back, showing its bright white belly. They are so incredibly fast as they darted to and fro in front of the ship.

Most time on the ship, other than watching the magnificent scenery and wildlife, was spent either eating or attending lectures on wildlife and Antarctica. The food was incredibly good. Most non-meat-eaters became ardent consumers of the wonderful Argentine beef and lamb. The lectures were great! We learned about the geological history and future of the Antarctic continent from a retired professor who has run many research excursions to the continent. We learned about the birds and whales from a well-spoken self-taught ornithologist. We also had a Russian lesson (!) and several lectures on the history of Antarctic exploration.

Marine Expeditions of Canada chartered the ship for the tour and directed all the travel, shore visitations, meals and accommodations aboard ship. They were extremely good at it; things went flawlessly. They even changed the dreaded Drake's Passage to Drake's Lake for us! Only at night were there any significant waves. We were rocked to sleep by the swell. The Akademic Ioffe has a stabilizer system that takes the roughness out of the sea. What a great ship!

Here is Louise's photo album.

ship

The Akademik Ioffe, a Russian research vessel, comfortable, spacious, and smooth-sailing with a great open bridge policy. She is identical to her sister ship used to film the Titanic!


birds
Birds in flight during Drake's Passage crossing.


penguins
Adelia penguins breading on Paulet Island north of the Weddell Sea.


seals
Fur seals growl at each other but it appears to be just play.


captain
Captain Apehktin watches the ice very carefully ...


navigate
... as he navigates through the ice.


sign
The South Pole is still very far, 3000 Km, from us here on the Antarctic Penninsula. We are about midway beteen Buenos Aires and the South Pole. Antarctica is very big.


marathon
What else would one do in Antarctica but run a marathon?


zodiac
Our way to get ashore and tour the coastline was aboard Zodiacs.


whale
Whales were constant companions and came very close to our Zodiacs.


scenic
This is truly the land of ice and snow, very pretty on such a calm day.


jim & louise
We are in Paradise Bay!


skier
The runners from the other ship come to the Ioffe for the marathon awards ceremony.


ice
Some ice is very deep aqua colored.


leopard
A 12 foot long leopard seal rests happily on an iceberg. These animals have been known to attack people, but mostly they eat penguins, after torturing them in play, like a cat and a mouse.


dolphins
Hour glass dolphins play at the bow of the ship as we round Cape Horn.


Cape Horn
This is it - the real Cape Horn!

Jim's pictures

Here is Jim's photo album.

The Plustek scanner slide adapter works great!


penguin1
A Gentoo penguin on Peterman Island.


ice berg
Intense, eh?


penguins on ice
Penguins are just marvelous and so cute when they are gathered on the ice.


ice wall
This was really there! Isn't it remarkable?


whale tail
This humpback is starting its deep dive and will be gone for 20 to 30 minutes.


penguin2
Another Gentoo penguin.


Jims's CapeHorn
Cape Horn from Jim's camera's eye.


Jim and Louise's home page on wholey.net.