Polar Race 2005 News - Leg 1
14 April 2022
- From Arctic novices to Arctic explorers
It was a very gratifying feeling to see all our competitors at the
first checkpoint in such good order. Close racing, no cold weather
injuries as yet and they all obviously enjoyed it.
Despite all the work that was done in preparing contestants in the
UK, the only place you can train people is the Arctic and yet a week
ago none of our contestants had been north of the Arctic Circle.
Yet only 8 days later they were coping with a full scale blizzard,
a great testimony so far as to the training in the Arctic and
instruction in the UK.
Arctic training – © Tony Woodford and Mike Whiteside
Only a few years ago, however, we would have said such a race was
Don't forget to check out video clips from the training week, in the
Polar Race Movie Theatre.
13 April 2022
Four of the teams arrived last night at Checkpoint 1.
First home at 1711 hrs was Northern Stars, followed 18 minutes later
by the Cable & Wireless Polar Team (Channel Islands). Third to
finish was Neways Polar Team at 1735 hrs and fourth in was Gentlemen
Adventurers. Still on course are the Ikey Icemen and Pole Position.
Checkpoint 1 is located next to the airstrip close to the old
Polaris mine. The mine which had been running for 20 years mined
some of the highest grade lead and zinc in the world and only closed
down in 2003, after which it was all dismantled and buried down the
mineshafts and the whole site returned to how it was before mining
Leg 1 winners: Northern Stars – © Alex Williams
In 1996 race organiser Jock Wishart, had the privilege of being
given a guide tour of this amazing complex which even contained a
heated indoor swimming pool for recreation which doubled as a
reservoir of water in case of fire. "One of the seven wonders
of the modern world!" Even in our 2003 race it was a large
entity. The maple leaf emblem on top of the red roof of the
enormous ore storage warehouse could be seen for many miles. Now it
is no more, although helpfully for us the airstrip is still there.
See the Polaris Mine article for more
information about this once amazing place.
12 April 2022
- All's Quiet On The Western Front
With the Checkpoint Crew now on station at the southern end of the
old Polaris Mine airstrip, things are pretty quiet back at base
Conditions are not great outside and at lunchtime we had a call from
the South African team, Ikey Icemen, saying they were not
moving — sensible stuff as the wind is expected to increase as
the afternoon wears on. We still, however, expect four teams to make
it to Polaris before the end of play today.
Back at base camp, our quartermaster Simon got the offer of a flight
to Cambridge Bay and took the opportunity of a low level flight over
the amazing Arctic landscape, including a large part of the North
West Passage, knowing he would be back before the blizzard blew in.
11 April 2022
- Checkpoint Day At Polaris
The wind abated and the sky cleared following a night of near
blizzard conditions in Resolute Bay. The wind was so strong that
you could almost lie back into it, against the horizontally driven
snow. No emergency calls were received from our competitors so all
must have bedded down and survived the storm without incident. What
an experience and what a confidence booster.
The checkpoint team of Neill, Richard, "Doc" and Tony were
finally allowed to fly, and went out to the airport with what seemed
to be a ton of equipment plus a new team member in Felix, our husky
dog, who is polar bear alert. Neill fell in love immediately, and
visions of a dog being smuggled back to the UK filled my mind!
Congratulations to Clare Winnick who celebrated her birthday on the
ice as part of the Pole Position team. Her son at Durham University
sends his best. She is a plucky lady.
10 April 2022
- Whiteout In Resolute
The Polar Race support crew awoke today to windows rattling and snow
blowing horizontally past the windows. A quick call to the airport
confirmed the obvious — no flying today!
Out walking in the whiteout – © Tony Woodford
Patience is the order of the day, and Patience is the card game that
fills the hours while waiting, thinking of our racers out in the
We have now moved out of South Camp Inn to our own self-contained
house, which in some respects makes life easier for us. With the
living room stacked full of checkpoint gear, much of the day was
spent in idle chatter, interrupted by a call from one of the teams
notifying us they they were moving despite the conditions.
The one person fully occupied was our computer and communications
expert, Paul Theobald, who no matter the hour can be found on the
computer dealing with our constant needs. First in and last to bed
— a real workhorse.
9 April 2022
- Contestants Ready!
Exhilarated by their mini-expedition, some intense final hours of
preparation were put in by contestants for the start of the Polar
Dugald 'Ned Kelly' Macdonald
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy", so time was
still found for a small pre-race party where South African, and
former Springbok, Dugald Macdonald did his best to imitate
Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, by the use of Duck tape, and ended up
looking more like an Egyptian mummy. Meanwhile, the amiable Patrick
Keatinge in his fisherman's jacket has more than a passing
resemblance to Rambo!
Despite a few headaches, all were bright and cheerful as our laid
back Doc, Mike Whiteside, with an exceptional bedside manner, did
the rounds checking personal and team equipment and administering
T.L.C. at the start of race day.
At 11:45, the contestants left the South Camp Inn where they had
enjoyed some exceptional food courtesy of cook, Randy, and made
their way to the Co-Op, where they were entertained by local Inuit
throat singers. A weather report from Steve Pinfield was followed by
a stirring rendition of the poem The Quitter by race
organiser Jock Wishart.
Hopefully inspired, all were soon on their way — 65 cold miles
to the first checkpoint at Polaris.
Polar Race 2005 gets underway – © Mike Whiteside
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