Last Desert Race – Sailing to Ushuaia and Antarctica Reflections

(first published on the Last Desert website on 11 November 2014)

Greetings from the Plancius (for the final time!)

It is Tuesday morning (11h00 local time) and our last day on the ship. We are fast approaching the islands at the southern tip of South America.

We left Deception Island / Antarctica immediately after the completion of the final stage of the Last Desert Race on Saturday afternoon to start the long journey back to Ushuaia. We were informed about changing weather conditions in the Drake Channel the night before the final stage and that we would have to leave the area by 15h00 on Saturday afternoon in order to avoid the storm moving from west to east across the channel, and get back to Ushuaia on time by Tuesday morning.

We had quite a celebration after the race on Saturday evening while the weather was still fairly ok. However, yesterday it was “back to business” for me given the strong winds and rough seas – spend most of day in my bed with my eyes closed and the bathroom close by…won’t elaborate on the detail!

Feeling much better today and looking forward to getting back to Ushuaia and start the journey home. We have the awards banquet this evening and a last opportunity to spend time with many old and new desert running friends.

Antarctica has been an amazing experience – start to end – and I look forward to sharing my stories and photos with friends and family. The incredible and unique beauty of Antarctica is something which I will treasure forever.

However, my participation in the Last Desert Race was always about more than running in the snow in Antarctica. I have dedicated my participation in the race to the work of Greenpeace Africa.

My association with Greenpeace Africa over the past eight months has increased my awareness and understanding of the many global environmental challenges facing all of us. Antarctica is a key factor in this equation. Climate change is already impacting on Antarctica – significant melting of ice on the western side – and an acceleration in this trend will contribute to further global climate change and related consequences.

Climate change is a complex issue with many contributing factors. However, our dependence of fossil fuel and coal-powered electricity generation are key factors in this regard. The latter issue is one of serious concern to many South Africans and Greenpeace Africa is dedicating much of its advocacy and awareness-raising work to the “economic, social and health costs” associated with Eskom’s coal-powered electricity generation.

But, beyond raising awareness about the problems and causes of climate change, it is also important to raise awareness about alternative and renewable energy sources. I’m therefore very pleased that the fundraising campaign linked to my participation in the Last Desert Race will contribute to the implementation of a solar street lighting project in Diepsloot, outside of Johannesburg. We are aiming to raise R250 000 and people have until 2 December 2014 to make a contribution – just go to – and follow the links from there.

I hope to continue supporting Greenpeace Africa with my future desert running adventures.

Thank you once again for all the email and blog messages over the past ten days. Much appreciated.

Time to get home. See you back in sunny South Africa.

Best wishes


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