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25 December, 2000

Merry Christmas from the South Pole! Our Christmas morning revolved around something a little different than opening presents. Most of the Polies gathered at 10 AM for the annual "Race Around The World." This 2 mile event is only a race for the serious runners like Von who came in, in the top ten for year another year. In 1991 he won the race. He insists that he doesn't have anything to prove.

As you can see this event draws a fairly large crowd. It seems that most folks really want to get their own "Race Around The World" T-shirt.

With the exception of the "serious" runners, most of us "run" our three laps any way we can. Some bike, some ski, some jog (like me), some walk ...

And then there are those who ride in comfort around on a sled, snowcat, or snowmobile. I have to admit that when the tractor went by the second time while I was still on my first lap, I was thinking that maybe those folks had the right idea. But I did it on my own and covered the 2 miles in a blazing 30 minutes and 12 seconds! I was only 12 minutes off the leaders pace! I will admit that I didn't really jog the whole way. I stopped a few times to take pictures and walk a little bit. Considering the elevation and the cold, I think that I did great.

Since it is Penny's last full day at the Pole she is trying to get as much data as possible. In order to help her out I volunteered to drag the far retro reflector out to 1000 meters. After jogging for two miles earlier today I really wasn't too excited about going on a 2 km round trip walk in unpacked snow. Penny also made a big splash here at the Pole last night and this morning. She proposed to her boyfriend with a Marry Me sign standing in front of the Geographic Pole and had one of the other scientists take a digital image for her to send to him. The hubbub this morning was that he e-mailed back and said yes. An unusual way to propose?!

I have been asked several times by kids from several schools if I have seen a Penguin yet. I could only say no, I hope to when I get back to McMurdo. But low and behold today during the "Race Around The World" I saw my first Penguin, and at the Pole no less! One of the Amanda Project Graduate Students from the University of Wisconsin was waddling around the track dressed as a Penguin. She looked like a big kid in a costume for Mr. Poppers Penguins!

After the "Race Around The World" was an opportunity for the victorious parcticipants to celebrate. It was also the first opportunity that the two TEA's that are here at the Pole to actually have their picture taken. Karina Leppik is a physics teacher from Connecticut. Karina teaches at an exclusive Ivy League Prep School, Choate Hall. Her student load and student variety are very different from mine. I teach at one of the largest public schools in Montana. One of the strengths of the TEA Program is that teachers from all types of schools that represent all types of kids have an equal chance at parcticipating. Karina is working on a CARA (Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica) Project in the Dark Sector with Astronomer Dr. Chris Martin.

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