Monday, February 28, 2011

By the way, the pre-race Adventure Log is up as well

Sort of backwards from the race results as this was up yesterday and I didn't have a chance to post it.

See how I compare myself to Scott and Amundsen!

Antarctica - Short post race note now that we have internet access again

Dear friends - 

Just a quick update as we now have internet access again.  (We didn't have it or the promised cell service at the race.  I feel better knowing our cells phones don't actually work in the Antarctic.)

The marathon was a tough one.  Not too cold fortunately, but very windy and muddy.  My time was my slowest ever at 4:26 but I feel great about how I ran it, and I passed about 5 people over the last 10 miles.  Not sure where that puts me (top 10 I think), but everyone said I looked solid.  Rebecca was able to come over from the boat to see me finish.

Just now, we've been very fortunate to see orcas - maybe 7 or 8.  We happened to be on the bridge at the time which was very neat.  And did I mention we saw icebergs in the distance as well?  Super awesome.

Now we are sailing to the Antarctic Peninsula for 4 more days of landings.

More to follow.




Laird Malamed
Twitter: runlairdrun
Support my 2011 Marathon Fund Raising Goal:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Antarctica Marathon Update: 1 Day to Go

Dear friends and family -

(Read online at

Just one day to go before the race. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. I think we've already raised $6000 or so which is wonderful for this double marathon of Antarctica and Los Angeles. Here's the link again: (you may have to copy and paste it into your browser.)

We are currently sailing from King George Island to Robert Island - both of which are part of the South Shetland Islands. Two days ago, we made the crossing of the Drake's Passage which was fortunately very calm as it can be super bumpy and windy. I had a bit of seasickness but nothing major that just lying down (and taking Zofran!) couldn't help - fortunately no trips to the bathroom were needed. Happily since yesterday we have been in the more sheltered areas so the seas are much calmer and medication can be skipped without discomfort. Rebecca has had none of the symptoms but has been fighting her bad back. One of the fellow runners does therapy work and has helped her which has been quite nice.

The running organizers are on King George Island today setting up the course; we won't know the final conditions until our briefing later tonight. Then tomorrow morning at 8 AM local time (we are currently PST + 5 hrs or GMT - 3 hrs), we board the Zodiacs for shore. The race starts at 9 AM. 98 runners are here of which 83 are running the marathon. Since the course is two loops, the half people get to stop after one go.

I have been given a "seeded" number as someone to watch out for in the final tally. I'm number 3 by virtue of my 3:31 time at Adelaide last summer. My friend Martin who I met in Casablanca in October is number 2 due to his 3:03 at that marathon. Mike from Denver (who is here with his fellow runner and wife, Vicky, and their non-running young kids Sarah and Gavin) is number 1 with a 2:41 marathon last year. Mike is an orthopedic surgeon, so I guess if he ever gets injured, he'll know how to treat himself. There is also someone here with a 2:50 marathon recently. I actually find this aspect of thinking about time in this race to be somewhat silly given we don't know the conditions (other than likely to be muddy and windy) and no one I have met seems to care for more than finishing. Of course, I'm sure some of us will care when the start hits us. I think Ross from New Zealand is one to watch given he is primarily a trail runner and this is definitely a trail run. Ross and his wife and fellow runner Shelly ran the Everest Marathon last year which involves 14 days of hiking to acclimatize before running the race itself. Although nowhere near as audacious as that type of event, hopefully my time in the Santa Monica Mountains will have prepared me for the rough terrain. I have not been as crazy as some of my fellow runners who have been doing laps on the boat.

The trip on the boat has been great. Everyone is super nice, and there are wonderfully comfortable places to hang out. I'm writing from the Oceanus Lounge on deck 4 and there are about 30 other people here reading or on the computers. We have expensive but decent internet access (dial up speeds so key is to really shrink photos before sending them). Rebecca and I secured the Owners Suite which is fantastic and includes a sitting area, king bed, jacuzzi tub and a private balcony. We are on the top deck at the very front of the ship. Really, compared to previous events, we have it easy. The boat we are on was a last minute replacement due to the planned boat running aground in October. Thom Gilligan (yes, we are going to an island with someone named Gilligan) told me they are not likely to have as nice a boat next year.

As you might imagine, everyone is sort of wired the same way on the trip. With a boatload of runners - and ones that like long distances and adventures - we have more in common than differences. Still, with participants from Europe, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and India, we have much to learn from each other. That has been great and given we are 10 days together on the cruise, you get more than enough time to meet everyone. Meals are open seating, so each meal is another chance to talk to new people.

Yesterday, we made our first landing and saw gentoo and chinstrap penguins on Aitchoo islands. I've included a couple photos with this email. Landing involves getting dressed up in water proof pants and heavy boots. We then board Zodiacs for the few minutes journey to shore. Then we get to wander in and among the wildlife. Out of bound areas are marked with flags. Despite us being told to stay about 5 meters away, the penguins are free to walk up to you. You can't touch them, but they will come peck at your boots. Two were jumping after the strap from my backpack. Super cool. You are literally right next to them. (Fortunately, the smells don't translate into the pictures.)

After the race, we sail the 100 miles to the Antarctica Peninsula for 4 more days of landings and adventures.

Ok, that's it for now. Please do check out my Indy in the Classroom Adventure Logs for more on the journey. I am really enjoying writing for that site.

I'll report back after the race! Try to dream fast thoughts Monday AM.



Laird Malamed
Twitter: runlairdrun
Support my 2011 Marathon Fund Raising Goal:

Friday, February 25, 2011

On the Way to Ushaia and a big thank you

Well, after to be expected shenanigans at the Buenos Aeries domestic airport, I'm filling this report from the air. Not sure when I will get to sync email, but when I do it will transmit to the blog.

We were meant to have 4 seats so Rebecca could have 3 to lie down. Of course, this was reconfirmed yesterday by the tour company with Aerolineas Argintineas. So, at the airport this morning, when I asked about it, they said there are no extra seats - they've been given away since the plane is full. They did move us into business class (which is ok but the point was to get Rebecca the chance to stretch out her bad back). No idea what will happen on the way back. I felt bad for all the people behind us in line. Thankfully, everyone on the tour was very understanding and didn't complain.

And that takes me to thanking everyone who has donated so far:

Thanks so far: S+KM, TT, L+EO, JR, L+MP, M+RL, S+DS, SG, J+JV

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hola from Buenos Aires

Well, we arrived safe and sound in the capital city of Argentina. After meeting 1 person (Mike from Chicago) on the plane and then about 40 more in the terminal, a comfy bus whisked us into town. Apparently, we've arrived at the end of the Argentinian summer holidays, and we had traffic getting to and around town.

Right now, luggage is being delivered and after that arrives, we'll go explore the area surrounding the hotel to secure some lunch. A Super Mercardo (super market) is nearby so we can get some bottled water etc as well.

At 4 pm (it's 5 hours later than Los Angeles here), the tour company plans for us to run about 45 minutes which I will join.

Off to explore we go!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Indy In the Classroom Adventure Log is live!

The Adventure Log
Thanks so much to Thomas and Wes - the site looks awesome!

On the plane!

Well, we hopefully had the only glitch we are going to have. All fine now, and we are settled into our seats on the plane destined for Miami. A few hour layover and then it's overnight to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

So, what happened? Well, we are using miles for the air portion of the trip. We cashed in a ton and are First Class all the way and back which is key for Rebecca's back (not to mention super comfy for me). About two months ago, American changed the time of the return flight from Buenos Aires to Miami. This left us with a 4 hour layover from 4 AM to 8 AM at the Miami airport. So, I called American and changed out return to come back through Dallas. No cost and no problem.

Or so we thought.

Fortunately, my ticket was changed perfectly and I was able to check in our 3 duffel bags on my ticket. This was key because we were quickly approaching the deadline to check bags at all and Rebecca's ticket wouldn't print. it took two agents and 10 minutes to sort it out. Not really a horrible issue or in the end all that worrisome, but when you are heading out on an adventure, you want the adventure to be during the adventure portion!

Oh, and I know this won't be the only hiccup. I can hope though!

Cool site commemorating the 100 anniversary of reaching the South Pole

As I am 5 hours from flying out of Los Angeles, I wanted to share this neat site: The site is updating live as if the Sir Robert F. Scott expedition to the South Pole were happening now. This is in fact the 100th anniversary of the race between Roald Amundsen and Scott. Amundsen reached first and returned safely home; Scott tragically died ever so close to a supply depot.

I'll be talking more about this race as I lead up to my own race in February 28.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Antarctica: The latest crazy adventure

Dear family and friends -

Once more, the siren song of the marathon beacons me onward. As my crazy quest to run on all seven continents continues, Rebecca and I prepare for departure to the White Continent - Antarctica. Planned three years ago, this combination tour (starting in Buenos Aires & Ushuaia, Argentina) & running event includes touring the South Shetland Islands and the end of Palmer Land in the southern continent. We expect to see thousands of penguins, a smattering of seals and hopefully the occasional whale. All told, we spend ten days on the cruise from Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world).

The event is organized by Marathon Tours & Travel out of Boston. I first read that you could even run a marathon on all the continents just after finishing my first marathon in 2007. With a love of travel, this seemed like a great way to see the world and do something very few people have ever done. While no official count exists, at most only 2000 people have accomplished this; the number is probably even less. The limiting factor (beyond being somewhat crazy) is of course Antarctica. But if you think having one marathon there seems impossible, would you believe people can participate in three different ones? The one I am running has been around for over 10 years. About 100 people (limited by tourism restrictions) run either a half or a full marathon. A smaller race is run on the ice shelf at McMurdo Station each January. The most crazy (and southernmost marathon in the world) is the Antarctica Ice Marathon at 80 degrees south which they run in November. (My race is held at about 60 degrees south).

Rebecca may be the nuttiest of the two of us as she is going to just be a spectator and supporter. The weather in Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest in the world. In fact, Antarctica technically ranks as a desert albeit a very chilly one. I know that seems odd given that the entire continent is covered by miles of ice. However, at the end of the Palmer Land Peninsula, the conditions are balmy for being south. This is the northern part of the continent and is not inside the Antarctic Circle. Still, we expect temperatures in the 10s, 20s and 30s F. One of the previous races had to be run on the ship because they were unable to land at King George Island for the event. The island is home to numerous research stations, and the roads and glacier tracks between the stations form the course. Effectively, we do an out and back of about 6 miles, then an out and back of 7 in the other direction. The half-marathon people finish after one set; those of us doing the full marathon complete a second 13 mile lap. All told - 26.2 miles just like every other standard marathon in the world.

For preparation, beyond my normal long distance running, I journeyed forth to spend previous weekends in colder climes than Los Angeles. Baltimore and Fort Collins offered up identical temperatures to what I expect, and last week's 25 mile run in Fort Collins was super windy - another factor to consider. In terms of clothing, normally I run in shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Given the conditions, I don't actually add that much in terms of weight. I wear running pants over my shorts, and on top I have both anundershirt and a light wind resistant pull over. For my hands, I am using a pair of running gloves with a liner. Over my head instead of a visor is a running cap, an ear band and I have something I can pull over my mouth if needed. My running shoes are my normal Asics trail shoes that I use in the Santa Monica Mountains. However, I do have some Yak Trax to pull onto them. We expect a fair bit of mud (particularly if the temperatures are on the warmer side - above freezing that is). So, the tour company recommends to bring two pairs and to plan to switch mid-race. (This is not a race one really does for time - they say to expect up to an hour longer than a person's average. For me this means possibly 4:30 or more. However, I really want to complete the race in 4 hours if I can.)

Personally, I am very excited. I've wanted to visit Antarctica for 30 years since reading about exploration in my teens. And I've never been to Argentina either (Rebecca has been once, but not to where we are going). I met another runner when I ran the Casablanca Marathon in Africa last October, so I know one person going which is neat. It's hard to believe the sail date is so close. This will be my sixth continent with South America only remaining to be done sometime later this year (fulfilling my target goal of 2011 which I set back in 2007).

As I have done since 2008, I am using my run to raise money. Here's a link to the fund raising site for those who are so inclined. Once again, I am supporting for The Alliance for Children's Rights, Children International and The Call of Duty Endowment. The past three races (NYC in 2008, Boston in 2009, Adelaide in 2010) have garnered around $40,000 in total. Rebecca and I match $10 for every donation made, so if you give just $10, the charity gets double. I am actually the co-chair of the Alliance's fund raiser for the 2011 LA Marathon (which I am also running on March 20). So, this is really a double race fund raiser given the two races are 20 days apart. (And if you thought I was crazy before reading this far, I am also running a 31 mile ultramarathon in April.)

Look for more updates on this adventure to follow. I am writing an "Adventure Log" for Indiana Jones in the Classroom; more details on that to follow but here's a link to the biography page. I will hopefully get updates on Twitter (@runlairdrun) and Facebook ( Believe it or not, we actually have cell service at the race location. Weird.

Thank you all for your support.

Happy running -