(Photographic Plate by Frank Hurley,
Royal Geographical Society Collection)
Day 149 Mile 149: Endurance. 100 years ago today Ernest Shackleton and the members of the Endurance expedition returned to the UK. Through my life I have read and re-read Shackleton’s diary of this voyage several times, and remain in awe of the undertaking. This is made all the more resonant as (unknown to me up until a few years ago) it is also one of my Mum’s favorite books.
The Endurance expedition to Antarctica between 1914 and 1916/17 is an amazing story of survival. It is remarkable even for an era and region that already has far more than its fair share of tales of heroism and fortitude in the face of adversity. The intention was to cross the Antarctic from one coast to the other via the South Pole. In the event, the main expedition never set foot on continental Antarctica, however expedition managed to survive the loss of their ship in the middle of the Antarctic pack ice at a time when there was no chance of contacting the outside world, let alone of being rescued.
In 1914, just as World War I was starting, Ernest Shackleton and his team embarked the on Endurance. It left from Buenos Aires, and within a few weeks was in the ice pack.
Just a few miles short of Antarctica the Endurance became trapped by the ice floes. While icebound for the entire Antarctic winter, the ship was slowly crushed by the shifting bergs. After being on the ice for 6 months, the crew were forced to abandon the Endurance and camp on the ice.
The most well-known part of the expedition was the open boat journey of over 800 miles in appalling seas by Shackleton and several of his crew culminating in a crossing on foot of South Georgia, in order to get help for the men left behind in Antarctica. In my oppinion it is of the most remarkable survival stories of all time.
Not one life was lost during the entire expedition.
Shackleton and his men returned from the Antarctic and subsequently went on to serve in World War I mostly taking up active service. Several were killed and many were injured becoming microscopic statistics in the horrors of the war.
Today’s run starts overlooking the sailing club (with numerous boats bigger than the ‘James Caird’ in which Shackleton and his men made the 920 mile journey across the Southern Ocean!) along the prom and up through the houses to the War Memorial. It’s an oddly emotional mix, awe for their achievements and drive but sadness for the loss, the balance feels good for the soul.
I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.
Distance: 1871.1 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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Thanks as ever for all the support!