Every January, McMurdo Station hosts the McMurdo Marathon (half and full). The race is run on the ice shelf near Ross Island. This is near the airfields where the LC-130 planes (the ones that brought us here) land.


Josh Heward and Byron Adams in front of Ivan the Terrabus. They are ready to run! Photo by: Ashley Shaw

The McMurdo Marathon began in 1995 with just 2 participants. This year two of our team members, Ashley Shaw and Byron Adams, ran the half marathon, and Josh Heward ran the full marathon. On Sunday morning, we got up early and boarded Ivan the Terrabus, who transported us to the starting line. About 70 runners, bikers, and skiers were on board, ready to race to the finish line. The day was chilly, 24°F, and the wind was blowing hard.


Ashley is ready to run. Runners lined up at starting line on the right. Photo by: Byron Adams

At the starting line, we had a few minutes to pull on extra layers of clothes and to stash our extra gear. Then, with the sounding of Ivan’s horn, we were off. The race course was out-and-back (or, in the case of the full marathon, out-and-back-and-out-and-back). We ran 6.55 miles on the snow road to a turn around point and then returned to the start line.


An unusual participant… Photo by: Josh Heward

The first 6.55 miles we ran straight into the wind. The road was full of ruts, snow drifts, and ice patches. The day was cloudy, with a flat light, making it impossible to see details in the ice or anything but a flat white road. The returning 6.55 miles, the wind was at our backs.

After the race, we got into the dunk tank – a huge tank full of freezing cold seawater, fresh from the Ross Sea. This is supposed to help remove lactic acid from muscles. Wow, it was painful!

We were all pumped up after finishing the Antarctic race! It was a race day unlike any other!

Written by: Ashley Shaw