The two Canadians who set out on a journey to run the Antarctica Marathon in penguin onesies returned home last week after a life-changing experience on the world’s most southernmost continent. To their surprise, many of the other runners recognized them as “the penguin women,” or “the runners racing in onesies.”
Stacey Collie and Rachel Rauwerda originally figured they were going to do the half-marathon in Antarctica but after raising more than $13,000 for Open Doors, a school in Nigeria, the two committed to the full 42.2K race. The money is going to go towards school fees, construction, and equipment.
“It was definitely one of the best trips of our lives and an unforgettable experience, Rachel and I can’t stop talking about it,” says Collie by phone from Thunder Bay, Ont. “It’s one of those trips that no matter what you say or how many photos you take, it won’t do it justice.”
The two met while attending Redeemer College and re-connected when Collie had an extra spot to run the Antarctica race, not an easy application process. From Canada to Antarctica, the two flew through Buenos Aires then took a boat from Ushuaia, Argentina to the coast of Antarctica where the group of runners stayed until race day.
The race itself was about as unpredictable as it gets as the weather took a turn for the worse and forced the cancellation of the marathon in the latter stages. Many runners returned to the boats off-shore, where competitors were lodged, and completed the remainder of the race on a treadmill.
Rauwerda did the final three kilometres on the boat while Collie stopped after running the half-marathon because of a bothersome knee.
One of the donation benchmarks that the two women had set was to do a polar bear dip if they raised $4,000. A few days after the race, which took place on March 12, the swim came to fruition as both did the plunge while out kayaking. They shed their wet suits, jumped in, and as quickly as possible got back to the boat for a warm shower.
Below is a photo of the two on the kayak excursion:
No trip to Antarctica is complete without a visit from some penguins though.
“We saw so many [penguins],” says Collie. “They’re the funniest animals. If you sit down, they come up to you and there was one in particular that decided to sit on our laps.”
On the return trip, all they had to do was endure eight metres waves, which at one point sent plates and cutlery flying across the dining room as the runners returned to Argentina. Once on the mainland, one of their passports was stolen in a local market but luckily, they got their new documents printed at a nearby hospital and after a police check, a passport was issued the same day at the Canadian embassy.
Luckily, no flights were missed.
Collie shared several secrets of the trade including bringing dish gloves because mittens are bound to get wet as well as Gore-Tex shoes for the six-loop race. Ski goggles came in handy too. There were also a number of other Canadians on the trip with fellow passengers adding to the great trip experience says Collie.
The two hinted that they may be doing the Mount Everest marathon in 2017 with Collie slated to do the Banff to Jasper Relay on June 4.