After Bird Island's triumph in the
Rebel Race last winter we were looking forward to this year's fitness
challenge with a degree of trepidation, knowing we had something to
live up to and would be without the influential Craig.
This year sees the return of the
official race, organised by those in Cambridge with teams from there,
the ships and the bases completing a distance of either 2,840km
(Scott's Terra Nova route from Cape Evans to the pole and back
again), 6,000km (across the continent from Cape Hope to Cape Adare)
or a monumental 12,000km (a 'grand tour' that takes in many of the
research stations). We've a ten week window to complete our chosen
distance and, like most of the 26 teams entering, we will be going
for the 6,000km trek.
We've put together our team of six –
the four of us on base plus the other two field assistants who have
just got back to the UK and are keen to retain their Bird Island
fitness in the presence of such mainland luxuries as take-away food.
Activities have been weighted with
different scores based around world record speeds, hence 1km cycling
= 2.5km running / walking = 3km rowing = 10km swimming. We have
machines for all but the latter, which sadly is off the list of
events until I get somewhere warmer. With less outdoor work to do and
with the nights drawing in we've plenty of time to get moving.
Here's a few pictures of what else has
been happening recently:
|Wandering Albatross are starting to head off to spend the winter at sea. |
The last few unpaired ones are still dancing round like the singles left in a club at 2am.
|A possible last opportunity for established pairs to spend time together before spending all their time feeding and bringing back food for their tubby, fluffy chick who will otherwise be left alone for the next six months,|
|While the Macaroni Penguins have headed out to sea and won't return to land before October, the Gentoos stay closer and often come ashore in large numbers in the evening.|
|Grey-headed Albatross are continuing to feed their chicks, although it won't be long before they follow the Black-brows in starting to fledge and head off themselves.|
|As the days get shorter there's more of a chance of being out to see a sunset. Though there won't be many like this, with a clear sky.|
|Clear skies also mean good opportunities for stargazing.|
|With the majority of Giant Petrel chicks having fledged the adults gather together to discuss the breeding season. |
|Great views across the South Georgia mainland from near the tip of La Roche.|
|Testing the ice on the frozen ponds.|