(By Correne Coetzer) In addition to their goal of skiing unassisted and unsupported to the South Pole, Chris and Marty Fagan also have a desire to inspire possibilities. “Because when you go beyond what seems possible and push outside your comfort zone – you always grow,” they said to ExplorersWeb. “Continual growth contributes to a fulfilling life. Inspiration connects us and opens up new possibilities to put good into the world. We want our son and others to see our planet and universe as a place full of possibilities that are only limited by what we can imagine.”
The couple’s expedition, 3 Below Zero, starts November 23 (weather permitting). ExplorersWeb caught up with them at home in North Bend, Washington, USA.
What was the trigger for this expedition?
Chris: About 3 years ago we thought it would be fun to do a big adventure and Marty suggested the South Pole. We hadn’t been on an expedition since we met in May of 1998 while climbing Mt McKinley in Alaska. We were at a point where our jobs, family life, and fitness level could support a major expedition like the South Pole. We also wanted to go to the South Pole while it is still wild and pristine, and relatively unexplored in comparison to places like Mt. Everest.
Chris, why do you think Marty will be a good teammate in an extreme place like Antarctica?
Chris: Being a married couple is one of our biggest assets because we intimately know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We are both very competent in the outdoors and are physically and mentally strong, having trained together for 15 years.
We’ve experienced each other at our highest and lowest during tough physical challenges like running 100-mile trail races or doing self-supported long runs through the mountains. We both are very passionate, determined and hard working, and usually find a way to succeed.
There is no one that I can imagine as a better teammate than Marty. He is relaxed and loving, decisive and organized. We complement and balance each other’s personalities. Marty will be an ideal teammate for many of the same reasons he is an amazing husband.
Marty, why do you think Chris will be a good teammate?
Marty: Can you imagine running the 93 mile Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier with your spouse? I feel so fortunate that this is just one of the really great adventures that we’ve done together! Chris and I seem to enter a zen zone when we’re doing these types of outdoor activities, we tend not to get too excited, and we operate as a team.
I absolutely love that as I get even older, I’ll be able to sit down with Chris and reminisce about the wonderful adventures that we did as husband and wife and watch our son head out on his own adventures.
How will you divide tasks between the two of you? E.g. who will cook / digging snow / work the tech? What will be your navigation routine?
Chris: We are each competent in handling any task – but I’m sure we’ll divide and conquer to build efficiencies into our routine. Marty will be in charge of recording our daily stats and communicating them with ALE. Chris will leave our daily voicemail update that will be posted to our blog. We will trade off melting snow and cooking – one of us will be on duty at night, and one in the morning.
When it comes to navigation, we plan to trade off leading throughout each day. We see ourselves as equal teammates.
One or two top tips you each have learned from Keith Heger and Helen Thayer.
Chris: Helen’s message is all about planning, perseverance, and hard work leading to success. She’s provided us with inspiration that we can succeed, especially since she continues to do amazing adventures in her mid 70’s. Keith reminded us to have fun, which will be really important given the monotony of our routine that we’ll feel at times.
Marty: Keith also reminded us to look at each piece of gear that we bring as having multiple uses in the field, helping us to cut down on weight that we’ll bring.
How do you involve your son, Keenan, to be part of the experience so that he does not feel left out? Will he join you in Punta Arenas?
Deciding to leave our son Keenan, and go on this expedition, was the single hardest decision we’ve had to make. Consequently, over the past 3 years of planning and training, it’s been very important to find ways to include him.
He helped us train by walking or biking with us on some of our long tire dragging outings. He taste-tested the freeze dried meals we considered, winter camped with us to test gear, and created some short videos showing our planning and preparations. His school will be following us while we are gone, and he’ll be in charge of plotting our daily location on a map of Antarctica.
Throughout our planning, we’ve talked a lot about how we’ll all cope being apart, which has actually strengthened our bond as a family.
Since Keenan will be in school when we depart on November 17, he will not join us in Punta Arenas. One of our goals is to try to keep him on his regular schedule as much as possible.
How does each one of you prepare yourself mentally for the long hours against the wind, uphill, with the endless horizons in front of you?
We have read many books about South Pole expeditions, and talked to a lot of people who have been to the South Pole, so I think we have realistic expectations of what our days will be like.
We’ve spent the last 15 years training as ultrarunners, running 100-mile races in the mountains that take up to 28 hours to complete. These races require tremendous mental discipline, so we will draw heavily from that experience.
Our long 8-10 hour tire dragging training days also help to simulate the conditions we’ll face.
People ask what we will think about for hours each day. As we’ve experienced with ultrarunning, we’ll likely think about all kinds of topics, and sometimes nothing at all. We’ll listen to music, books on tape, and to the sound of our own breathing. We have to be able to take our minds away from the monotony that we’ll feel at times, but also embrace the endless horizon and remoteness as part of the unique experience.
Chris and Marty Fagan are an accomplished ultra-running couple who plan to start skiing from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner) to the Geographic South Pole on November 23 (weather permitting, as always). It is a 890 km route. The couple will be unguided, unassisted (no cars/planes carrying food/gear) and unsupported (no wind or vehicle support). They plan to haul food for approximately 45 days in their sleds, which count to 180 pounds each.
Chris and Marty have done some polar training under the guidance of PolarExplorers' Keith Heger. In February 2012 Chris attended a five-day polar training camp in Ely, Minnesota and in April 2012 Marty attended a five-day polar training camp in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Another polar adventurer who mentors Chris and Marty is Helen Thayer.
Other married couples skiing together to the South Pole:
Thomas and Tina Sjogren (2001-02 also unassisted and unsupported, and the founders and owners of ExplorersWeb and HumanEdgeTech)
Mike an Fiona Thornewill (1999-2000 resupplied, part of a Geoff Somers’ team)
Ray and Jenny Jardine (2006-07 resupplied)
All did Hercules Inlet route.
Follow their daily updates in the Live News Stream on ExplorersWeb.
Chris and Marty Fagan's website ‘3 Below Zero’ and links to social sites
#polar #southpole2013-14 #chrisandmartyfagan #martyandchrisfagan #fagan #southpole #antarctica
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