Polar Race 2007

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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.

Arctic training – © Tony Woodford and Mike Whiteside

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.

Only a few years ago, however, we would have said such a race was impossible.

Don't forget to check out video clips from the training week, in the Polar Race Movie Theatre.

13 April 2022 - Polaris

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.

Leg 1 winners: Northern Stars – © Alex Williams

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 was started.

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 camp.

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

Out walking in the whiteout – © Tony Woodford

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!

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 bad weather.

Computer/Comms expert:
Paul Theobald

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!

Dugald 'Ned Kelly' Macdonald

Exhilarated by their mini-expedition, some intense final hours of preparation were put in by contestants for the start of the Polar Race.

"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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