We received another email with the update of the projects Open Doors is using your donations for. It is full of exciting pictures. Have a look.
In October we got an exciting email from Open Doors about what they have decided to do with all the money you donated. When I received the email I was gearing up for a little Antarctica Reunion in Ireland and once I got back my mind was on other things. So as I fly back after two fun filled weeks in Thunder Bay I am finally getting around to writing this. I apologize for the delay.
The Open Doors Board of Governors met to discuss what to do with all the Running Antarctica for Open Doors money. They had two priorities. The first was to put the money towards projects that will generate income and the second was to pay off some debt. Paying off the debt might not be the most exciting thing to read about but it will definitely help Open Doors get a sound financial footing! Here are 6 projects that your generous donations are going towards.
1. They bought two new laptops. These will help them with everyday functioning.
2. They completed their fish pond and bought 300 fish and fish food!! They will use this in their vocational training to teach the students how to farm fish. They were hoping to start marketing the fish by Christmas. We will follow up and see if they were able to meet that goal! (They are also going to start raising chicken for the same purpose thanks to a grant they received to build a poultry house).
3. In the dry season they often run out of water so they are putting money towards a borehole. This will give them enough water year round for the school and their fish farm. It will also generate income because they will be able to sell water.
4. They are going to put cupboards in the speech therapy room. Right now all the equipment is just in crates on the floor so the cupboards will keep it safe and secure.
5. Rachel and I both helped lift wheelchairs in a out of the classrooms when we were there because there were only steps leading up into them. But not for long. They are finally going to be able to build wheelchair ramps to make the classrooms accessible to all the children!
6. The final thing that the money is going to go towards is to raise the security wall around the centre. This is going to increase the general security of the centre as well as prevent their eggs and chickens from getting stolen once their poultry project takes off.
It is so exciting thinking about about all these exciting “penguin projects” happening at Open Doors thanks to you! We will keep you posted with after pictures as they come to us. My heart aches to go back and see it all in action! Maybe I can convince the pilot to make a detour…
You donated $1000 so we ran the race in penguin onesies.
You donated $2500 so the students at Open Doors prepared a surprise for you.
You donated $3000 so we waddled and penguin slid across the finish line... but there wasn't much sliding.
You donated $4000 so we did the polar bear swim.
You donated $10 000 so Rachel ran the full marathon, Stacey did the half due to a bummed knee.
We have raised a grand total of $16000!!! We are extremely overwhelmed and grateful for all the support!! THANK YOU!!!
A HUGE thank you to Emmanuel Home in Edmonton for having Stacey come in and speak about Open Doors Special Education Centre and the Antarctica Marathon. The residents were very interested and had many questions. They were full of support!
Not only did they want to to listen to a presentation but they also scrummaged through their belongs to find items to donate to a white elephant auction. The $359 that was made at the auction is the highest amount they have ever received. They generously donated all of it to Open Doors Special Education Centre!
Thank you residents of Emmanuel Home! It is truly appreciated!
The night we got back to Buenos Aires after Antarctica we made plans with our new kiwi friends, Angus, Abby and Tundy, to meet at an Argentina vs New Zealand rugby match later that night. We then set off to our hostel with two of our new American friends, Jamie and Barret. The thought of making a reservation did not even cross our minds and when we got to the hostel it was full. This led to a little bit of a scramble but we found a place close by. After dropping our bags the four of us jumped in a taxi to the stadium. We bought some scalped tickets and searched for our Kiwi friends. The game was half way over and our friends were no where in sight. Even though we did not really know what was going on we had a great time cheering along with the crowd! Afterwards we somehow managed to run into the Kiwis and shared one last dinner together.
The next morning we met up with our speedy Aussie friend, Sharon, and headed down to the Sunday market together. The market was incredible and we were enjoying the sun, snacks, and a couple small purchases. Until Rachel noticed that her wallet which contained her passport had been stolen out of her purse. This put an immediate stop to the shopping! The Canadian Embassy is closed on Sundays so we spent the afternoon looking up phone numbers, Rachel making a ton of phone calls, and a trip to the police station for a report. We met up with Sharon for dinner that night, which definitely included some cold beer! Rachel then spent the night filling out forms back at the hostel.
Bright and early the next morning we were at the Canadian Embassy. Rachel’s flight left at 5:30pm that night and the lady gave us hope that Rachel would be on it. After dropping the forms off we went to get passport photos taken. (If anyone wants a really horrible picture of Rachel let Stacey know. She stole one of the extras and is willing to share). We sat at the embassy all morning. We were in good spirits and mostly just talked about how great Antarctica was and made plans for future trips to meet up with our new friends around the world. At noon they told us to go get lunch and our bags and be back at the embassy at two. When we got back to the embassy we anxiously waited. Around 2:20pm Rachel was handed an emergency travel document!!
We raced to the airport to get Rachel on her flight. Sometime during all of this Stacey decided it was no longer worth the long bus ride to visit her friends in Cordova since her visit now would have been cut down to just one day. Not really sure if she wanted to go to Edmonton, Thunder Bay, or Tucson she called the airline to see what last minute change she could get. She managed to get on the same flight as Rachel!! Even though Stacey was on standby for the second leg of the journey they both somehow managed to make it to Toronto!! What a whirlwind!! When getting off the plane Stacey got a text that her dad and brother happened to be in the area so she changed her flight again so she could spend the night with them before heading to Thunder Bay in the morning. We said good bye and both felt a little bit lost without the other by our side, even though we had plans to hang out a few days later in Thunder Bay.
This brings our crazy Antarctic adventure to an end. We managed to smile and laugh the entire trip despite Stacey leaving her debit card in the bank machine the first day, having to share one toothbrush and one deodorant the whole time on the boat, and Rachel’s wallet/passport getting stolen. Memories that will last a lifetime!
(We will get some pictures and videos up soon! We promise!)
We have been avoiding writing a blog post about the rest of our time in Antarctica because we were not really sure how we are supposed to sum it all up in one little blog post. But we will try…
The penguins were definitely a huge highlight of the trip. We spent most of our time with the penguins laying down or sitting on the ground hoping that they would come over to us. While many did we had one little guy that LOVED us. Maybe because at this point our jackets (and even a little bit of Stacey’s hair) were so covered in penguin poop that he thought we were just part of his colony. He nibbled our jackets, boots, fingers, and Rachel’s dreads before he settled onto Stacey’s lap for a little rest. Watching them waddle around and slip on the ice made us laugh every time. Such funny little creatures!
The wakeup call of a soothing voice over the ships intercom along with view of icebergs floating by our window will forever be one of our favourite ways to wake up. We spent a lot of time marvelling at how beautiful the icebergs were. Not only the various shapes and sizes of the ice that was sticking out of the water but also the brilliant blue ice underneath that was visible through the clear arctic water. We have never seen anything like it. Icebergs are one of those things that no matter how well we describe it or how many pictures we show you, we will never be able to do them justice.
We spent a few hours in a double kayak one afternoon. It was cold and snowing but that is what made it so picturesque. There we were, paddling beside giant icebergs, sleeping seals, and swimming penguins in ANTARCTICA. We had to remember to take a moment to let that all sink in. Rachel took one for the team and exposed her fingers to the cold for some phenomenal photos while an overtired Stacey paddled in the back and laughed at absolutely everything! Right after our kayak we went to shore for our polar swim. After stripping down to our long johns, we held hands and jumped into the ice cold water of Antarctic Ocean! One of us squealed a lot more than the other, but we will let you guess who that was.
We got to experience the Drake shake again on the way back to Argentina. Seasickness sent Rachel to bed around 7:30pm. Stacey was one of the stragglers still in the dinning room when an extra big wave hit. Along with her fellow diners she slid across the room on her chair while dishes smashed and things flew out of cupboards. What a crazy feeling! Our first night back on land in Buenos Aries we both jerked awake in the middle of the night at the EXACT same time. We were CONVINCED our room was rocking and had a serious discussion about whether it actually was or not.
One of the biggest things that made this trip so memorable were our fellow passengers on the boat. Everyone brought their own unique personalities and fun to the boat. It was a blast! We loved that we not only got to learn about the history of St. Patricks day but that we got to be a part of the skit that the Irish put on to teach everyone about it! Dancing the nights away after the race will not soon be forgotten and the game Blockus will forever bring us back to the quiet nights before the race. We cannot wait to cross paths with our new friends in the future. Mount Everest 2017… Dublin 2016… watch out because you never know what races these penguins might show up at!
Stay tuned to find out why we spent our last day in Buenos Aires hanging out at the Canadian Embassy.
A few days before the race we were told that the forecast looked great for our race day. This made us pretty happy! We were also told that because the route was changed that the hard hills were gone. Well, let me tell you. That forecast was WRONG. The WHOLE route was pretty much either up or down hill and if it was flat it was it was full of loose rock and gravel.
When we started the race it was raining. This meant our penguin onesies got wet pretty quickly. We had a really fun first two laps together. Everyone loved cheering on the penguins! Our original strategy was run 10 minutes then walk 1 minute, but this quickly changed to walk the up hills and run the the rest.
As a runner, you know that some days you have fantastic runs and others days not so much. This was a not so much day for Stacey. She accidentally took her sea legs onto land and could see the whole land rocking up and down like a boat rocking on the waves. She was also feeling a bit nauseous. This she was willing to run through. Once her knee started acting up on the second lap she started to question whether or not the full was a good idea. When she was heading out for the third lap it became too much. She encouraged Rachel to continue on ahead and dropped down to the half marathon. Stacey walked most of the lap which left her so cold that it took 4 people to help change her into her dry clothes and zodiac boots and outerwear to get back to the boat. She can’t remember who they were so if you were one of them she is so grateful to you!! Stacey is disappointed that she did not complete the full but overa ll happy with her choice to drop down.
Rachel continued on! And she did so until the weather got SO bad they had to call the race early. She was 3km short of completing the full. By the time that she was done the snow and hail weren’t even falling down, it was all just going horizontal in the crazy strong wind. She was at the front of the zodiac boat on the way back. Being at the front of the zodiac on rough water means that you get drenched! If you know Rachel at all, you know that she was laughing the whole way back at how ridiculous the situation was. Once back on the boat Rachel got warmed up and had a meal. She was then convinced to join the other people who got pulled from the race in the ship’s gym and finished off the FULL marathon!! Three cheers for Rachel!
The winner of the full marathon (on our boat) was an 18 year old from Florida . It was his first marathon!! How exciting! We did not see that coming at all! Tomorrow night we meet up with our sister boat who ran yesterday for our awards ceremony. We are hoping that our boat carries the official race winner, especially because they had fantastic race day weather! Overall everyone on our boat seems to be healthy and happy now. We are all looking forward to happy hour at 5:30! There will be many stories of the day shared at that time.
After two days at sea we have spotted land!! King George Island to be exact, the location of our big race tomorrow! It is so surreal that at this current moment if I turn my head to the left I can see icebergs from ANTARCTICA!!
Our crossing of the drake passage was fairly smooth for the most part. When we say fairly smooth we mean fairly smooth considering it was the drake crossing. We both had motion sickness patches on and we still had waves (pun intend) of feeling awful. Our second night on the boat we had waves that were 8 METRES high!! Things were falling off our shelves and chairs slid across rooms.
We love all the passengers on our boat. They all come with such unique stories and experiences. Stacey especially loves the fact that everybody talks about running, one of her favourite topics. Many of these people have done some amazing things. One man has run more than 200 marathons (not including his half or ultra marathons)! He has done one in every state, this will be his last continent, and last year alone he ran 52!!
Today was our first excursion onto land! Both of us can now say we have been to all the continents! The zodiacs took us to an island called Penguin Island. The rock beach we landed on was covered in Antarctica fur seals. These bad boys can be a bit aggressive so we had to be a little bit careful. We only came across one that caused us a bit of a problem but we made it passed with all our fingers still. Of course, Penguin Island had a colony of penguins we got to go explore. Rachel managed to snap a selfie with the one little guy that walked right beside her. The swells picked up while we were gone and that meant our zodiac ride back to the boat was a wet bumpy one.
Tomorrow is RACE DAY!!! We are both feeling nervous but excited! We had a quick little briefing yesterday where they told us that the course has changed to an out and back that we have to complete 6 times for the full. This put us a bit more at ease as this new course is less muddy and less hilly than the original planned course. We can also cheer on everyone because we all be seeing each other multiple times throughout the race! Tomorrow at this time we will hopefully be half way done our race!
Are you the penguin girls? Are you the Thunder Bay girls? Are you the charity girls? These are all versions of the same question we have heard from many people over the past few days. We have made it to Buenos Aries where we joined up with the other 175 crazy people that think running in Antarctica is a good idea.
We have spent time wandering the streets on Buenos Aries and have found it a beautiful clean city with lots of green space. On our second day we hopped on a 2 hour train to Tigre Delta. Once there we immediately jumped on a boat and took an hour boat ride past the trees and houses on stilts. Unfortunately by the time we made to the handcrafted market most of the stalls we closed. Maybe that is a good thing for our wallets and suitcase. We were both thrilled to get out of the big city!
This morning we hoped to have a relaxing easy morning. After sleeping in until 9am our whole morning turned into a scramble of rushing to get our complimentary breakfast that ended at 9 followed by rushing to buy tickets and get to the terminal to catch the 1 hour ferry to Uruguay. We both fell in love with the quant little town of Colonia. We wandered cobble stone streets in the shade of the large trees that lined them, ate at the cafes, and had a rest in the park.
We are excitedly awaiting our 5am departure tomorrow morning where we finally begin our journey to Antarctica. If you are the praying type we would love it if you gave a little shout out to God for our safety, strong knees and legs, and happy tummies.
We want to thank each and everyone of you who have contributed to our trip in so many ways. Yesterday was a busy day of organizing and packing as I had to leave the house around 5:40am this morning. When I finally went to check the donations to see if we would be running the full or the half I was shocked to see that not only did we reach the goal of $10,000 but we smashed the goal!! We are currently sitting at $13,005!! Bring on the FULL marathon!! (Full disclosure: When we set this goal we did not AT ALL expect to even come close to it. We never even played with the idea that we would have to run the full marathon)! We are so thankful for each and every one of you that have donated. Because of you Open Doors is going to receive such a wonderful gift. What a blessing! Thank you!
We especially want to acknowledge a few people who donated $500 and got to choose something for us to do. These people were actually (for the most part) really nice to us! I expected them to be a lot meaner.
Henry and Jenny’s grandchildren: A polar bear dip
Stephanie and Chad: Bring pictures of them with us and take pictures with
Jacquelyn: To have a good time
Matt and Heather: To eat the grossest thing we can find
Betty: Have Stacey come for dinner and tell them about the trip
Christopher and Hennie: To be safe
James and Inez: To cook dinner for them next time we are both in Thunder Bay
Derrick and Peggy: To come home safe
On my flight from Edmonton this morning, the little girl next to me was trying so hard to look out the window she was practically sitting on my lap. As we started taxiing to the runway she whispered in my ear, “Here we go.” I was exhausted and thought, “ya, here we go. 25 hours of planes and airports.” Only my “here we go” was a lot more negative than hers. Once we were above the clouds she looked at me with a twinkle in her eye that only a 3 year old can have and said, “This is… amazing!” And that little girl, she was right! This is amazing! Everything about this trip is amazing! The incredible people that Rachel and I have in our lives that generously donated their hard earned money to a school that means so much to us, encouraged us, “liked” and “shared” our Facebook posts. This journey would not be happening without you having our back the whole way. There have been a few different times over the past couple months where I have felt overwhelmed with love and support. This moment somehow brought it all together. When I am sitting on the boat covered in motion sickness patches and still feeling rough I will need to remember the twinkle in this little girl’s eye and think “THIS IS AMAZING!”