NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — David V. Bruce, the former director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cattaraugus County, is heading to Antarctica, but not just to see the penguins and whales.
Bruce, 81, will be running across the freezing terrain as part of his effort to complete a marathon on all seven continents.
A member of the 50 States Marathon Club, having run a marathon in all 50 states, Bruce has also completed marathons in Greece, the Big Five in South Africa. After Antarctica, he plans to go to Sydney, Australia in September.
Bruce, a New Smyrna Beach resident, planned to depart today for Buenos Aires, where he will join other runners from around the world as part of the Marathon Tours and Travel delegation.
“While in Buenos Aires, the group will visit various sites including Casa Rosada, where Eva ‘Evita’ Peron, delivered many of her speeches, which fostered the song ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,’” he said.
Bruce said they then fly to Ushuaia, close to the Chile/Argentina border, where they board the Ocean Victory, a ship that will take them to Antarctica.
“The ship is specially equipped to cope with areas like the Drake Passage, which can be one of the most treacherous waters in the world,” he said. “It will require two days of travel in the Antarctic waters.”
Once they arrive, the group will be given an overview and preparation for the marathon on March 22. This is an out for 2.5 miles and back 2.5 miles over the same trail, which will be done until the runners reach the 26.2 miles, designed to avoid a negative impact on the land and the research areas. Bruce said the temperature range is 0 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit and requires special layering to avoid hypothermia.
The following day, half of the hundred runners start out at 7 a.m., including Bruce. At 1 o’clock, the other half starts. The terrain is very rough with ice, snow, mud and combinations of all three over a varied elevation with a rise and fall of over 3,000 feet, he said.
“Because of the danger of hypothermia, there is a strictly enforced maximum time of six-and-a-half-hour time limit on the full and four hours on the half marathon,” he said.
Once the marathon is completed, they will live on board the ship for three more days, giving the participants the opportunity to go by zodiacs to see humpback, blue, right, sperm and killer whales and a variety of penguins including rockhoppers, kings and emperors.
There will also be, for those who choose and qualify, the chance to do an Antarctic plunge as well as kayak in and around the various inlets.
While it may appear Bruce is a world traveler, he said it was not always the case. He grew up on a small farm in Essex County and had never been more than 50 miles away from his home until 17 when he was selected to attend the New York State 4-H Club Congress at Cornell University. While there, Bruce said he realized what might be possible in the field of Agriculture.
Five years later, after graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in Agricultural Education, he started his 30-plus-year career with the Cornell Extension System, including 18 years in Cattaraugus County. Other positions at Cornell and the University of Florida followed, as well as a couple of master’s degrees along the way.
After Cornell, he was a director for Catholic Charities for five years for the Diocese of Albany and then a hospital administrator for a small rural hospital in Alabama.
“These experiences are not just about running,” he said. “I hope these stories encourage young people to pursue what they believe in, the will to delay self-gratification, understand the importance of change without losing one’s basic principles and appreciation for those persons along the way that make a difference in one’s life.”
Bruce is available to speak and give a PowerPoint presentation to any group who might find the message of value by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org.