Polar Race 2007

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Polar Race 2005 News - Arctic Training Week

7 April 2022 - Flu Attack

Helen Lee

Another day, another night, sees our contestants growing further in confidence.

The only problem now is outside their control as a bout of flu has struck Resolute and three of our competitors are suffering. Our tough little Australian, Helen Lee, has been hit the worst; so at the end of the day she was taken off the ice in order that she have the best chance of recovering before the start of the Polar Race on Saturday.

The two doctors, James Laban and Will Morton, racing as the Gentlemen Adventurers team also looked pale but insisted that they would be "all right on the night".

Fingers crossed for healthy racers!

6 April 2022 - A Mini Expedition For All

The Ikeys Icemen, closely followed by Neways Polar Team, setting off
on the two-day training expedition to Griffiths Island – © Mike Whiteside

Blessed so far by good weather, the competitors were in good spirits as final preparations were made for a mini expedition to Griffiths Island and then back along the coast to Resolute Bay over the next couple of days.

So far everything has gone like clockwork, made easier for everyone by the diligent efforts of our industrious quartermaster Simon Marshall, who learned his trade well when in charge of Base Camp for the 1996 Ultimate Challenge, where the first ever group of novices were taken on a walk to a pole; ably assisted by Rob Sleep, a boat professional with a multitude of skills who is his ideal foil.

Polar Race Quartermasters: Simon Marshall and Rob Sleep – © Mike Whiteside

It is gratifying to see how in just a few "long" days our contestants have come on in mastering polar skills and how their confidence has grown. Made easier for them all by the efforts of the support team who really do work like a well-oiled machine.

5 April 2022 - First Night Out

The first Arctic night camp site, with Steve Wright of C&W Polar Team waking up to experience for
the first time an ice-covered, yet surprisingly warm, sleeping bag – © Paul Theobald/Simon Elmont

It is always an experience when you spend your first night out in the Arctic and so it proved for our competitors. There were some tired faces around this morning but they still went to work with gusto having survived the -37°C temperatures of the Arctic night.

While the contestants grappled with everything from "moisture management" to "gun handling" some important contacts were made. Chief of these being a conversation with local weatherman Wayne Davidson to give us an idea of ice conditions en route. There is a lot of rubble off Bathurst Island, so "Polar Bear Pass" is becoming a likely option for the racers moving between the Checkpoint 1 at the old Polaris Mine and Checkpoint 2 north of Bathurst Island.

The enthusiasm of the racers is inspiring to all of us. Questions are never ending as they work to improve their understanding of the polar environment.

4 April 2022 - First Time in the Freezer

Clare Winnick and Helen Lee of the Pole Position
team venture out from Polar Race HQ – © Rob Sleep

A -30°C temperature greeted the contestants as they apprehensively (perhaps remembering the gruesome pictures of frostbite victims shown to them by Doc. Mike Whiteside the previous night) went out for their first taste of skiing in the Arctic. All can ski, though for some it was their first taste of cross-country skiing using the flexible Berwin (plastic bindings) into which the soft, moon-boot like, Baffin boots fit.

After weeks of bad weather in Resolute and despite the temperature, the day was clear and still, which soon built confidence as the competitors spread their wings and journeyed out away from Polar Race HQ at the South Camp Inn.

...and on to the ice for their first day's ski training

Training is being led by Steve Pinfield, who was formerly in charge of the Patriot Hills Antarctic Base for 7 seasons, along with Richard Bull and Neill Williams who between them have been involved in the organisation of more than 150 expeditions. This plus superb equipment gives our competitors great confidence. And humour too, with Richard, despite his best attempts, showing everyone how not to play golf in the Arctic!

Meanwhile, overhead for nearly four hours, a Canadian armed forces Twin Otter "burned off" fuel before making a successful emergency landing on the ice directly outside Resolute, reminding everyone how fragile life is up here.

Back in Ottawa, where we'd departed the morning before, a blizzard was raging bringing the city to a standstill.

2 April 2022 - The Adventure Begins

Glorious spring weather greeted 26 competitors and organisers in the 2005 Polar Race as they descended on Heathrow for the start of the long journey to Resolute Bay.

As always, the affable Richard Bull charmed the baggage handlers and eventually 1.7 tonnes of personal and race equipment disappeared into the aircraft as we set off for Ottawa.

Resolute Bay Airport Seven hours later, Ottawa appeared unseasonally warm (perhaps a foretaste of things to come) and the party quickly cleared customs, though as always getting guns through was a very different matter. Later, the whole party descended on an old favourite, Friday's Steakhouse, before heading to bed and an early night.

By 7am the next morning the party was back at the airport to be met by highly efficient First Air staff.

Six hours later, a tired bunch of people eventually arrived in Resolute Bay in more glorious weather.

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