Polar Race 2005

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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 Pole...

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.

Liz McOwat
Mon 7 April 2022
Resolute Bay

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 -40C.

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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