The Peace Torch in Antarctica…
Antarctica 15 March: Port Williams, Tierra del Fuego - Argentinian Base, Antarctica
The Peace Torch in Antarctica
As part of the round-the-world Southern Hemisphere Peace Run being held in 2019, while the team was running the North Island of New Zealand, Jim Lawless took the Peace Torch to Antarctica by way of Chile. He caught a trip on a Russian ship organised by an Australian company, leaving from Port Williams in Tierra Del Fuego.
A quick and calm passage across the Drake Passage took them to the South Shetland Islands, officially part of Antarctica, and to a landing on the Antarctic Continent at an Argentinian base. The Torch was taken for a short run – not the most elegant running ever seen, but it isn’t easy in knee length gumboots and soft snow! This is the second time the Peace Run has visited Antarctica, after a delegation at an Australian science research base ran a marathon with the Peace Torch in 1991, ensuring that there has been an official Peace Run on all 7 continents.
The faithful ship the "Polar Explorer" crossed the Antarctic Circle a couple of days later. The trip organisers got right behind the Peace Run concept and incorporated it into a very moving ceremony as we sailed slowly through icebergs on a calm sea.
The passengers were also very enthusiastic about the Peace Run and all wanted to hold the Torch. A certain faction were if anything somewhat over-enthusiastic and thought it would be a novel idea for Jim to take the Torch on a swim in the -1C water amongst chunks of floating ice. This was vetoed on technical grounds, in that we feared the Torch may never be the same again after immersion in freezing seawater. Jim protested that the same could probably be said for him, but to no avail. In he went to general acclaim …
After return to Punta Arenas in Chile, Jim took the Peace Torch south to a park where they had a display of indigenous culture. It had mostly static displays, but the guide was passionate about setting the record straight about the wrongs done to the original Indian inhabitants. So it seemed like a good place for a Peace Run event. We showed the Peace Run video to the staff and invited them and some tourists hold the Torch, then the chief guide and Jim ran around a trail through the park. Everyone was very welcoming and happy.