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Richard Burgess' Account of his time at Checkpoint 1 on Polar Race 2003

Richard Burgess was at Checkpoint 1 with Richard Bull, Tony Woodford and Ian Davis from 11 April to 15 April 2022 during the Polar Race. This is his report. As well as igloo building and visiting the Polaris Mine, their main purpose was to meet the racers as they arrived at the checkpoint, handle any problems medical or otherwise that the racers had, communicate with Race Control in Resolute on a daily scheduled basis, take pictures and video footage, re-supply all the teams with food and fuel for the next leg of the race and start the next leg. This is Richard Burgess' view of life at Checkpoint 1.

Richard Burgess

Ice Work at CP1

It's not until you've spent five days on the ice confined to a space no bigger than your bedroom cupboard with three people that you truly value your personal space. On top of that it was about -25°C most of the time and the diet consists of the sweetest sweets you could imagine. Needless to say we were full of energy with little to do. What to do? We had three days until Extreme Steps and ViP3 were going to arrive. We were restless!

After a two day stint of bad weather, which further delayed the remaining teams, we ventured outside. The icy winds had brought with them a covering of new snow. One foot high ridges of snow had closed round the tents as the wind whipped round them. The snow brought with it things to do. Dr Ian and myself decided use the snow to build an igloo. Not being an igloo building genius, and Ian having never built one before, we thought it would be a good challenge. We set to work cutting ice blocks with Richard Bull's machete and began laying the blocks in a circle on the ground. We then added more and more layers and closed off the top. We then cut a hole for the door. A tunnel was then extended from the entrance a couple of feet to keep out the wind.

Our Igloo:

Richard's Igloo

Our Igloo actually looked like an igloo - we were pleased.

During our stay at Checkpoint 1, Tony Woodford and Richard Bull paid a visit to Polaris mine. Despite the fact that they had a heated indoor swimming pool that looked over the frozen waste (our campsite), a hot tub and showers, their visit was purely business. They had to deliver some the tapes of Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team crossing the finish line at Checkpoint 1. Ian and myself stayed back at the checkpoint. The workers at the mine invited all four of us back the following night for a meal (Spare Ribs mmmmm). That evening we phoned base camp at 2100 for our daily check in and to our dismay ViP3 and Extreme Steps were due to arrive the night of our promised meal. Oh well, things never run quite so smoothly in the Arctic.

When the remaining teams arrived, Tony Woodfood filmed them crossing the line. It was close, there was only a minute gap between the two teams. After being interviewed by Tony and checked over by Dr Ian, they set camp and started their well deserved 24 hour rest period. The following day the Twin Otter plane arrived at the checkpoint to take us back to Resolute. The gun went at 1216 and the racers continued their journey towards Checkpoint 2.

The checkpoint ran relatively smoothly and it's good to be back at South Camp Inn. We had a good laugh on the checkpoint and I'm looking forward to the next checkpoint.

Richard Burgess
15 April 2022



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