ISB News

ISB in Antarctica: 6 Days in McMurdo

ISB research associate, Allison Lee, has boarded an icebreaker in the Ross Sea in Antarctica, where she will spend the next 53 days conducting algae research. Between her more formal blog posts, we’re sharing some Facebook snippets from her first few days in McMurdo, where she participated in a half and full marathons prior to boarding the research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer. Read related posts.

Boarding the plane to McMurdo.

Boarding the plane to McMurdo. Photo by Andrew Margolin.

Feb. 8, 7:11 a.m.

I will run a 5k in a banana costume in Antarctica tomorrow.
I will run a 26.2 Marathon in Antarctica on Sunday.

Feb. 8, 7:35 a.m.

We have a National Geographic blogger on board ship with us! Check out her posts at

Feb. 8, 8:54 p.m.

Hanging out in McMurdo for 6 days before loading on to the icebreaker. It’s gorgeous here. Surrounded by mountain ranges covered in snow. Mt Erebus, the active volcano, looms above the station. The wind is bitter cold. There is NO humidity so you’re constantly feeling thirsty. They have “urine color charts” on the bathrooms so you can tell if you’re dehydrated. The sun burns the skin easily so there are sunscreen stations everywhere. There are 3 bars in town and EVERYONE was at the same bar last night for trivia. The martinis were POTENT.

Feb. 9, 7:19 a.m.

8 p.m. at McMurdo station it is 14F (-10 Celcius). With the wind chill it is 0.4F (-17.5C). Walking between buildings I wear my snow pants, snow parka, gloves and hat. I’ve pretty much been living in this outfit for the past 2 days at station.

Feb. 9., 8:02 p.m.

I have 1 hour till the marathon. Its 15.8F outside. I’m wearing a banana costume in addition to at least 12 layers of clothing.

Feb. 11, 9:42 p.m.

(After the half marathon.) One aid station had a grill going and grilled cups of water and protein bars since they froze otherwise. I ran with two waterbottles which froze into blocks of ice.

Allison Lee Finishing Half Marathon

Allison Lee, ISB research associate, completes a half marathon in McMurdo, Antarctica. Photo by Andrew Margolin.

Feb. 12, 1:34 a.m.

For Lent, I’m giving up Gmail! HAHA Kidding. I’m heading off to sea for the next 53 days so please email me at…

Feb. 12, 1:42 a.m.

…with the wind chill (which I ran into the wind on the return route) it was -7.8F…

Feb. 12, 3:37 a.m.

BTW, this vessel (Nathaniel B. Palmer) takes 430,000 gallons of fuel. Pumped to us at $4/gallon…$1.7 million dollars in fuel. And the fuel tanker accidentally gave 55,000 gallons extra to the Russian Icebreaker. That amount of lack of fuel would cost us 10 days ship-time, Luckily McMurdo had some extra for their “winter” that our ship used. The Russians could at least repay us in vodka ;P

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  • ISBers Doing Cool Things: Running a Marathon on Antarctica

    Allison Lee, a research associate at ISB who blogged about her research cruise on the Ross Sea in Antarctica, recently wrote a piece for Northwest Runner about her experience running a marathon at McMurdo Station. In a banana costume. You can read her account (Antarctica Marathon Article). You can read about her research in Antarctica and view some of the wonderful photos of ice, algae and penguins here.

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