Distance to go:
Ben and Tarka will cover 1800 miles starting from Scott's Terra Nova Hut at the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back to the coast again. That's equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons hauling up to 200kg each (the weight of roughly two adult men) of kit and supplies necessary to survive.
Distances here are shown in statute miles.
Deja Vu (Day 104)
Day 104: S77° 52' 32.34", E167° 24' 47.88"
Duration: 10 Hr
Daily distance: 25.1 Mi
Distance to go: 11.1 Mi
Temperature: -9 °C
Wind chill: -22 °C
Altitude: 197 Ft
As I type this, we're camped about 15km from our Ross Island finish line, which is less than four hours' skiing away. We'll have a massive lie-in tomorrow before setting off in the afternoon, principally as the bases here run on New Zealand time, which is 11 hours ahead of us, so if anyone's going to be there to wave us over the line and take a photo for our holiday snaps, we need to fit in with their time zone.
Antarctica, true to form, didn't make life easy or comfortable for us today, and the weather seemed to be messing* with us in a spookily adversarial fashion; luring us - wearing far too little - out of the tent with bright sunshine and a still warmth first thing, before pelting us with a blizzard barely ninety minutes later. The wind intensified just as we stopped to eat and drink at our first break, and as we sat on our sledges with our down jackets on and our backs to the gale, whirling eddies and vortices of sandy spindrift were spun up into our faces, filling our pockets and sledges and anything else left unzipped for more than a few seconds with fine, gritty snow. It calmed down before we started skiing, then revved up again at the next break, in a pattern that dogged us for most of the day.
As I mentioned yesterday, our sheer exhaustion seems to be overriding any chance of outright back-slapping glee at being so close to pulling this vast journey off (our GPS says we've clocked a cumulative 2,859km now, which is 68 back-to-back marathons dragging sledges) but team morale is definitely much improved, and the prospect of skiing a mere 15km after a big lie-in seems infinitely more manageable than another mammoth day. Interestingly, despite never having seen the view we faced today, skiing past White Island towards the giant flanks of Mount Erebus until we picked up our final (hundred-day-old!) depot, before hanging a left and heading past Castle Rock towards McMurdo Sound, the scenery felt strangely familiar after so many years of dreaming of reaching this point.
We'll start skiing tomorrow in the late afternoon UK time so don't be alarmed if the tracker doesn't budge for a while after our usual kick-off. We should finish in the evening, but it may take us a while to get online again and send a blog post back, so watch this space. I'm sure Andy, Chessie and the team in London will update the site as soon as we phone in from Ross Island, so you'll be the first to know when we're home and dry.
At the moment, the magnitude of it all hasn't really sunk in yet, though I'm excited about getting more than five hours sleep for the first time in weeks, and I suspect lying here tomorrow morning the excitement - and if I'm honest, the sheer relief - may start to finally kick in...
*This may not be the precise word Tarka used as we were shouting at each other in the blizzard, but it was hard to hear him over the wind.