Polar Race 2003 News: 1-8 April 2003 (Arctic Training)
8 April 2022
- Only one day to go to the start and final preparations are under way,
with plenty of "one on one" help for the teams from the training team
plus the additional expertise of David Hempleman-Adams who is here in
Resolute after his recent successful trek to the Geo-Magnetic North
The teams arrived back from their last training day on the ice so as to
spend a final day on preparation.
The conditions were harsh during the training trip and have given the
teams a good idea of what to expect.
The key sessions for the teams, at our base at the South Camp Inn, are
the risk assessments where each team spends time with David
Hempleman-Adams and Jock Wishart going through a prepared series of
questions to ensure that as many eventualities as possible have been
considered and an action plan established. All the re-supply items for
the Checkpoints have had to be sorted, boxed and labelled so that the
correct boxes are sent out to the Checkpoints.
The start point in Resolute Bay has been established and it is outside
the Co-Op next to the town's signpost. The race will be started by David
Hempleman-Adams and Aziz "Ossie" Kheraj, the Major of Resolute Bay. Tony
Woodfood has been arranging the start line and we are expecting the
children from the school to come and watch the start. Many other
locals, who are all very interested in the race and super helpful, have
said they want to come and watch the start.
At the eve of event dinner, Jock and David spoke to the gathered racers.
They emphasised the importance of considering safety at all times and
that they had already achieved a tremendous amount to get as far as they
have. They had all demonstrated that they were the achievers of this
world. In starting "probably the world's toughest race", they were now
about to start on a unique adventure and they should all go out there
and have fun whilst striving for their goal.
7 April 2022
- Walking on water... a whole new experience for this sponsor!
Liz McOwat from Initial Style Conferences, sponsors of the Initial Style
Explorers team came out to experience the training, wave them off (and
assess the competition on the ice!)
This is her experience of one day in the training programme...
Last year Initial Style Conferences agreed to sponsor a team in a
partnership with Mission Performance to enter the Polar Race. The team
will use their experience from the race to produce management training
modules for the workplace and deliver the training in ISC facilities.
Two days ago I found myself in a Resolute hotel and conference facility
with a life size polar bear (stuffed) in the training room and the team
using a ladies toilet as a syndicate room! The external training is in
a very cold climate - -40C with wind chill factor and the tents don't
come with en suite facilities!
After spending the night on the ice, the teams ate a hearty breakfast
(apart from a couple of the organisers, Richard Burgess and Dr Ian, who
had to be dragged from their sleeping bags!)
Jock started the morning briefing stressing the importance of safety
above all, making sure that the race was undertaken in the right spirit
and that it was also supposed to be fun. Having spent the last few days
with the teams, there is an obvious group team spirit as well as
individual team spirit with helpful tips being shared as well as
practical assistance. No more so demonstrated than with the sewing
class Mattie held to adapt equipment to prevent goggles misting and
sewing fur round hoods for wind protection. Another first - seeing a
room full of men with their sewing kits out!
Mattie, Paul and Gary continued with the more serious topics of
navigation, how to deal with thin ice, communication and evacuation.
New skills for me - navigation by the sun (not much use in the UK) and
how to build a runway on ice!
The teams spent the remainder of the afternoon packing for the mini
training expedition they were setting out on that evening whilst pumping
Mattie and Paul for as much advice as possible.
They set off at 5.00pm in two groups with Jock and Richard following to
assess ground conditions and I went along for the experience! You soon
realise the benefits of skis after your foot disappears down a hole
caused by cracked ice yet again! There was also some spectacular skiing
as the Extreme Steps team managed a synchronised fall, which you
couldn't be recreate if you tried! Meanwhile, Dr Ian experimented with
an alternative way of travel.
A couple of hours later we left the teams to continue to their freezing
camp and freeze dried food and returned to the hotel for a hot shower,
steak dinner and a nice warm bed!
My assessment of the competition on the ground - given all I've heard so
far, strength and experience may be an advantage but it is no guarantee
to win the race. Nature and Luck will have more to do with it.
Mon 7 April 2022
6 April 2022
- The teams are out on the ice for final training with all the kit they
will be using during the race.
The entourage arrived in Resolute Bay yesterday and were met at the
Airport by the Mayor, Aziz "Ossie" Kheraj who also happens to be the
person who runs the South Camp Inn which is our base in Resolute. They
then immediately started their last minute preparations for the race
with most people working into the small hours.
It was strange to see men who had probably not touched a sewing needle
in years happily stitching fur to the collars of their wind suits
without complaint. Jock Wishart said "the fur helps to keep their faces
warm hence the sewing, some of it very dubious in quality."
The teams slept out on the Sea Ice (approx. 150 yds from the South Camp
Inn) where the intensive training programme continued on Polar Bear
Deterrent, Navigation, Communications and Emergency Procedures.
Today (Sunday) started with a briefing where the rules of the race were
talked through with final questions being answered. The guiding axiom
of "safety is paramount" was repeated. Following discussions with the
teams and the trainers Paul and Matty, the checkpoint rules have been
simplified (see Rules).
A final 2 day training session started in mid afternoon. Unfortunately,
Richard Dunwoody has picked up a "bug" and the Polar Team for the final
session is Tony pulling two pulks.
This evening communications between the organisers in the control room
and the teams on the ice took place and the inevitable problems were
identified and there is now 24 hours to resolve them before tomorrow
night's calls take place.
5 April 2022
- The teams in the Polar Race start their training in Iqaluit
The serious stuff started with a briefing from Paul and Matty who have
arranged all the pre-race training. The organisers hit their first snag
when the boots did not fit the ski bindings. Immediate modifications
were carried out that addressed the problem. As well as not fitting,
the straps were barely long enough and had to be lengthened.
Fortunately, Iqaluit came up trumps with a lady who stitched longer
straps (34 of them!).
Then the teams and the organisers (except Jock) took to the ice on skis
and had their first experience of sleeping out on the sea ice.
Temperatures were approaching -30C. As well as being a new experience
for most of the racers it was also a learning experience for the
non-arctic organisers. On the morning of Friday 4th April Paul took the
Initial Style Explorers and the Polar Team for a session on skis and
Matty worked with the ViP3 and Extreme Steps teams.
Strong winds made conditions difficult both for breaking camp and
working on skis. The wind chill factor took the temperature down to
Unfortunately, the Extreme Steps team and the race itself suffered a
blow when Norman Butler felt he had to pull out for personal reasons.
Norman, who has rowed the Atlantic, said: "It was not the conditions we
experienced last night. I could handle those."
The race entourage moves on to Resolute today (Sat 5th April) for
further workshops and ice training.
3 April 2022
- The racers arrived in Canada with all luggage intact; well that is
for all except the ViP3 team...
The ViP3 team of Casper Hayes, Babs Powell and Richard Raine are all
geared up for the Polar Race.
However, they're missing the L-plates for Babs' pulk!
And putting a brave face on a separate loss, Richard says: "So far
so good... Hope the Canadian Customs enjoy our butter."
2 April 2022
- Four teams of intrepid racers gathered at Heathrow Airport today to
begin the first leg of their journey which will take them to the far
Canadian North to compete in "probably the world's toughest race."
At the Air Canada desk in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport a separate
check-in desk had been set up to cope with the sheer volume of luggage
required by the racers and organisors of the first ever Polar Race.
All seemed relieved as at long last the adventure was under way.
No more training sessions in "warm" climates; this is the beginning of
the beginning and a competition in the Arctic the like of which has
never been seen before.
God speed to all the contestants.
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