My Favorite Races Part 1: Scott’s Hut Race, McMurdo Station Antarctica

 

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Scott’s Hut Race is probably the most exotic race I’ve ever run primarily due to its location.  The course is 5.2 miles and is held each year on Ross Island in Antarctica.  The race goes through and around McMurdo Station the largest US Science Base in Antarctica.

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I know you’re probably thinking that any race run in Antarctica must be a miserable, freezing experience.

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And it’s not exactly suitable for an underwear run, but because it is held during the Austral summer, the weather is at its warmest.  Warmest in Antarctica’s summer is pretty equivalent to a nice winter day in Minnesota, highs in the 30’s or 40’s and lows in maybe the teens.

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The biggest difference between Antarctica’s Summer and Minnesota’s winter though is the sun.  The sun shines in the sky 24 hours a day during the Antarctic summer making just the tiniest of circles at the top of the sky, and it can be a little un-nerving, especially when the bars close at night.

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Yes, there are bars at McMurdo.  Three of them in fact.  And when I was there back in 2005, on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, we had what is lovingly referred to as “Cinderella Liberty” which meant we had to be back on the boat by midnight.

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There is a lot of ugliness that is usually hidden by the darkness of night that becomes immediately and alarmingly apparent as soon as you stumble out the door of the bar and into BROAD DAYLIGHT.

But I digress…  Back to the Scott’s Hut Race.

The race begins in front of the Chapel of the Snows, then racers head up the hill and around the Discovery Hut.  Discovery Hut is also often and correctly referred to as Scott’s Hut, although there is another more commonly known Scott’s Hut farther north from Robert Falcon Scott’s 2nd Antarctic expedition.

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From the Discovery Hut the course continues uphill to Scott Base, home of the New Zealand Antarctic program (and a kick-ass New Year’s Eve party I might add).  Then there is finally a nice downhill section back down through McMurdo, then back past the hut again before finally concluding back in front of the Chapel.

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If you’re ever in McMurdo for a summer, there’s also apparently a marathon you can check out as well.  If anyone else out there in Twitter land has run either the Scott’s Hut Race or the McMurdo Annual Marathon, please post a comment.  I’d love to swap stories with you!

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