This was exactly 14 August 1977, according to the NOAA weather database which is more accurate than my diary. Anyway, back then it was time to hang out in met and watch the official chart.
So where and when did this all start?? Saunas were less common in US culture in the 1960's; Old Pole had a steam bath instead. Due to obvious temperature limitations, they had a "200 club" for as far back as I was able to determine. However...during the 1950's Little America V had a sauna, and as one story goes, they had an "over 300 club" which many w/o's joined. Since the temperature there never got much below -70°F that made for a rather hot sauna in those days.
At Pole in 1977 we had a relatively mild winter, the temperature just barely got below -100°F a couple of times. The NOAA database subsequently seems to indicate that on 14 August 1977 we may have joined the "298 club" but we were looking at THIS thermometer in the met office, and that was official enough for us, so it was time to go do it!! I actually took this picture after the run (and after I'd thawed out) and the temps had gone up a bit but as you can PLAINLY see, the needle definitely hit the -100° line.. Ok if you're curious or hardheaded, the hour-by-hour NOAA weather database for our entire winter (or most others) can be downloaded here.
The weather dipped back a bit deeper into 3 digits on 24 August, which provided another more official opportunity. Eventually everyone but Marshall qualified, although some of us ran farther than others. Nowadays the real pole is much closer to the elevated station than it was for us in 1977,so that of late is a more viable goal for the serious athletes.
Ken Gibson streaks for the sauna.
John Heg makes the turn at the halfway point. Jerry was taking pictures, but his camera froze up before my turn, so I ended up unphotographed and alone and starting to get cold when I got to this point.
back to index | next