Polar Race 2005 News
23 April 2022
- Northern Stars finally home
This has not been a good leg for Northern Stars (David Aston,
Charlie Newington-Bridges and Alex Williams), our first leg winners.
Illness was a big factor, as first Alex Williams went down with the
dreaded "lurgy" which caused them to stop for a day
followed almost immediately by a bout of illness for Charlie
Newington-Bridges. Finally, Alex's sledge found a large rock to go
over which did not help its appearance or shape!
Northern Stars in the checkpoint tent
chatting to fellow racers – © Mike Whiteside
They are, however, a highly disciplined, competitive bunch so we
expect them to make a strong showing on the third leg.
The only team not yet in is the Ikey Icemen, our steadfast
South African team, who at 9pm were 8 miles from the finish of the
second leg and still going. They are expecting to arrive at
Checkpoint 2 in Cator Harbour at about 3am and are already
announcing their intention of going straight into the start of the
third leg tomorrow afternoon. Doctor Mike will have the final
decision on whether they are up to it, or need a longer rest.
After an exhausting second leg, we received the following
(printable) quotes from those few competitors not sound asleep.
"We are now in total agreement with all our friends and family
who told us we were going to be putting ourselves through sheer
— Neways Polar Team.
"Tougher than getting a table at the Ivy." (a well known
and very popular Central London restaurant)
"After 10 hours on the move Patrick felt strong until he
realised he had left his sledge behind (just kidding)."
— Pole Position
"Just after burning a hole in the tent, I realised that I seem
to be learning everything the hard way."
22 April 2022
- Race for second place produces tight finish
Just one minute separated second and third place finishers on the
second leg of the Polar Race for the Wedgwood Blue Ice Trophy.
Surprise second place finishers at Checkpoint 2, north of Bathurst
Island, were the mixed team, Pole Position of Patrick "Rambo"
Keatinge, Clare Winnick, Helen Lee from Australia and Kevin Dixon
who is a diabetic. Back in 5th place at the end of the first leg and
a day behind the first four teams, they gelled this time to beat
more fancied teams and to prove that good teamwork really does pay.
Arrival of Pole Position – © Mike Whiteside
One minute! Yes, only one minute after 130 miles and six and a half
days racing in the most extreme environment in the world, separated
them from their pursuers in 3rd place; the Cable & Wireless
Polar Team of Steve Wright and Simon Elmont.
Six hours later, Gentlemen Adventurers, James Laban and Will
Morton, finished in 4th place.
Late this evening, Northern Stars, David Aston, Charlie
Newington-Bridges and Alex Williams, became the 5th team in to
All teams on the last day had battled on through whiteout
conditions, endorsing once again the quality of training and just
how far they have come in mastering the conditions.
21 April 2022
- Victory for Neways
The UK/Italian team of Justin Packshaw and Christina Franco showed a
clean pair of heels to their opposition in the second leg of Polar
Race 2005. They had come 3rd in the first leg, beaten by Northern
Stars and Cable & Wireless Polar Team who this leg
succumbed to the dreaded Resolute flu bug and the shocking polar
Justin Packshaw and Christina Franco of
Neways Polar Team – © Mike Whiteside
This in no way should take away from the Neways Polar Team as
Christina was suffering from flu before the start in Resolute which
hindered them in the first leg. They were strong all the way
through, employed the right tactics, and thoroughly deserved their
Both the Cable & Wireless Polar Team and the real
revelation on this leg, the mixed team ofPole Position, are
expected in late this evening which means that Neways Polar
Team will have built a cushion of over 24 hours.
Still a long way to go though!
20 April 2022
- Pole Position
The surprise package of the second leg is the Pole Position
team who are now simply flying along and currently occupy second
place in the leg.
"First amongst equals" is Clare Winnick. Her size caused
quite a headache for our equipment expert Neill Williams as almost
every item of clothing had to be specially ordered for her or made
to measure. Small she may be, but she is like a pocket battleship
packing quite a punch for her size with a steely resolve to match.
(Left to right) Clare Winnick, Kevin Dixon, Helen Lee and
Patrick Keatinge of Pole Position – © Paul Theobald
Then there is Yorkshire business man, Kevin Dixon, who is a
diabetic. Kevin is using a unique insulin pump developed by Roche
Diagnostics without which his participation in the race would
probably just not be possible. Kevin's performance will give hope to
millions and prove that if you have the will, anything is possible.
The third member of the team is Irish Australian Helen Lee, a former
stuntwoman who gave up her job in Australia to take part in the
Polar Race. Like Clare, she is a woman of iron determination.
When she gets to the finish she will be the first Australian woman
to walk to a Northern "Pole". I sincerely hope the
Australian public and press will properly recognise her achievement
when she does.
Last but by no means least is gentle giant Patrick "Rambo"
Keatinge; an Oxford graduate and BP employee. Patrick is one of
those very caring souls whom you could trust with anybody and
someone who I would always want on my team in any expedition!
Late this evening Neways Polar Team made it in to Checkpoint 2, to
claim first place in Leg 2 of Polar Race 2005. More on this
19 April 2022
- Neways Polar Team
Neways Polar Team currently have a commanding leading in the
second leg of the Polar Race, 15 miles ahead of their nearest
rivals Pole Position.
Justin Packshaw and Christina Franco of
Neways Polar Team – © Paul Theobald
The Neways Polar Team is made up of two old friends, Justin
Packshaw and Christina Franco.
Born in Malta, Justin is a former soldier and is very much an
entrepreneur. He has sailed round the world and was for a time the
liaison officer for the Times in the Round the World
Clipper Challenge. He is very, very fit, and a honorable, nice,
man. The phrase "an officer and a gentleman" is one you
would readily apply to Justin!
Christina is a guide in her native Italy, but in fact spends a lot
of her time travelling the world employing her many talents: from
photography to writing. Christina has a warm bubbly personality and
is a joy to have around. She is writing a book after the race.
They are a formidable combination.
18 April 2022
- North of Bathurst
A truly beautiful Arctic day for the racers — no wind and
bright sunshine as high pressure pushed its way into the region.
Today we sent in the Checkpoint 2 support crew, headed by Steve
Pinfield to the Checkpoint 2 location, north of Bathurst Island.
They have something to live up to after the efforts of the
Checkpoint 1 support crew at Polaris. Knowing Steve however, he will
set new standards.
Support crew at Checkpoint 2
– © Paul Theobald
Out on the racecourse the flu bug is still doing its rounds, with
Alex Williams now suffering. Elsewhere the Cable & Wireless
Polar Team is back up and running after their recent ordeal, and
Pole Position have pushed into second place, which will delight
Alex Williams – © Alex Williams
Tomorrow we feature our current leg leaders, Neways Polar Team.
17 April 2022
- Polar Bear Encounter
Sadly, the Cable & Wireless Polar Team of Steve Wright and Simon
Elmont had to shoot a polar bear as it clawed its way into their
tent last night.
All contestants are made fully aware that we are the intruders into
the bears' environment and given extremely thorough training in the
many ways of scaring a bear away. Despite all this, very
occasionally the worst happens. The two Channel Islands contestants
were put into an impossible situation and had no other choice.
In the unnerving circumstances they reacted coolly and shot the bear
despite having to struggle out of their sleeping bags. They informed
Polar Race Base Camp immediately and the proper authorities were
They were subsequently advised to move away from the area. This they
did, through the night, and have spent the rest of the day
recovering from the ordeal and repairing their split tent. As both
are still recovering from flu it was an exhausting experience.
Both Steve and Simon are well, and are continuing in the race.
Steve Wright and Simon Elmont of C&W Polar Team
before the start of the race – © Paul Theobald
16 April 2022
- Another Whiteout
After several days of blissful sunshine, the weather turned again
today, with whiteout conditions slowing down all our competitors on
their way north from Little Cornwallis Island to Polar Bear Pass.
The good news is that there is an area of high pressure building to
the west of the competitors which should mean better weather by
The competitors are still on relatively flat new sea ice but they
will shortly move into older sea ice which means more rubble and
The re-supply plane returned from Checkpoint 1 today with messages
from the racers. The Leg 1 winners, Northern Stars, reported:
"We didn't know that four teams were neck and neck with 15
nautical miles to the Polaris checkpoint, but we decided to get up
at 3am and make a push. We arrived twenty minutes ahead of the
second placed team, despite striving into 40mph headwinds and near
zero visibility, not to mention sub -25°C temperatures. David
[Aston]'s performance on the last leg was particularly impressive
given he was sick that night and travelled on empty. What a
Arctic Sea Ice (when the visibility is good!) – © Simon Elmont / Steve Wright
Finally, our quartermaster Simon Marshall flew back home today.
He left us with a short story about race organiser Jock Wishart's
Read it here.
15 April 2022
Leg 2 of Polar Race 2005 started today at 2pm sharp, from Checkpoint
1, with five of the teams setting off on their way to Checkpoint 2,
north of Bathurst Island some 130 miles away — the longest and
hardest leg of the race.
The South African Ikey Icemen team decided to take advantage
of their permitted rest period of 24 hours rather than start with
the other teams, and will resume racing early tomorrow morning. As
they have picked up pace recently this could well be a good tactical
We have been asked by a number of people what we mean by
"checkpoints" and how they apply to the Polar Race.
When the Polar Race was originally conceived it was decided that it
would be too much to ask contestants who were, in the main, Polar
novices to undertake the whole race unsupported and hence they would
have to be resupplied. At the same time we needed to put in safety
cover for the contestants and to some extent influence the route
they would take (to make it as safe as possible and avoid known
danger areas) as well as making sure they were properly rested.
Hence, the idea of manned checkpoints was born.
In the Polar Race there are three checkpoints between the Start in
Resolute Bay and the Finish at the 1996 certified position of the
North Magnetic Pole. This was the position of the Magnetic Pole
certified and measured by David Hempleman-Adams and Jock Wishart for
the Canadian authorities in their Ultimate Challenge
expedition of 1996 when the first group of polar novices was taken
to a pole.
Each checkpoint is strategically placed and at each the contestants
are required to stop for a minimum period to rest and be resupplied.
Polar Race Checkpoints
As the race is about accumulated time between checkpoints, time
spent at checkpoints is not included in the race time and where
possible the contestants are restarted enmasse at the end of the
The first, CP1, is near the site of the old Polaris mine.
This is about 60 miles from Resolute and is normally on new ice and
therefore quite flat and is considered a good introduction to the
The second, CP2, is just North of Bathurst island and is the
longest leg but easily navigable over the island. It also marks the
start of the most difficult leg to navigate, where the contestants
are completely out of sight of land.
The third, CP3, is at King Christian Island, the only
landmark between Bathurst Island and Ellef Ringnes Island.
In each case the exact location of the checkpoint is where the Twin
Otter plane containing the re-supply team can find sea ice flat
enough to put down. The contestants are then informed of the exact
co-ordinates where they then navigate to.
The plane drops off the Checkpoint Support Crew, re-supply kit and
personal messages for the teams before the first racers arrive.
Then, after the racers have left the checkpoint, another plane comes
in from Polar Race Base Camp to transport the Support Crew and a new
set of re-supply kit and messages to the next checkpoint.
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