Polar Race 2005

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Polar Race News: 9-15 April 2003 (Leg 1)

15 April 2022 - ViP3 and Extreme Steps did the remaining 15 miles to reach the Polaris Mine (Checkpoint 1) by 1600 hrs

ViP3 and Extreme Steps set off at 0730 this morning (14 April) to cover the final gruelling miles and reach the first Checkpoint at the Polaris Mine. In very cold temperatures they did extremely well and arrived in great spirits with Extreme Steps getting to the Checkpoint 1 finishing line 52 seconds before ViP3.

All four teams will start the second stage of the Polar Race at 12 noon tomorrow (15 April).

14 April 2022 - Bad weather stops progress for Extreme Steps and ViP3 teams out on the ice during the first leg of the Polar Race

A high wind, a wind chill of minus 46 degrees centigrade and blinding, swirling snow meant for the two teams out on the ice, conditions were too bad to travel and wisely both Extreme Steps and ViP3 stayed in their tents, resting and waiting for the worst of the weather to blow over.

Mike Krimholtz of Extreme Steps made contact with the Control Team (Jock and Gary) in Resolute Bay and informed us that they were not moving but would move if the weather improved. When Casper of ViP3 and Mike rang in at their scheduled call time in the evening, they confirmed they had not started to move as the weather did not improve as quickly as expected.

Such are the peculiarities of the weather in this place that by 1pm in Resolute Bay some 50 miles away, the day was bright and sunny and by 3pm the same was true at Polaris allowing our checkpoint team to indulge in some high jinks for all of 30 seconds!!! Richard Burgess being the offender.

The organisers, who are in constant contact with the checkpoint team, were getting actual weather information at Polaris (Checkpoint 1) only 15 miles from the Extreme Steps and ViP3 teams' current position and thus are able to provide this information to the teams when they contact control...

Extreme Steps and ViP3 are leaving at first light (0430 hrs) on Monday (14 April) morning with the intention of making a long day of it and getting to Polaris by mid afternoon. We are all rooting for them and hoping that the weather holds and they have a good day tomorrow.

13 April 2022 - Polar Team recuperate after their tremendous effort and ViP3 and Extreme Steps continue to make excellent progress

A tired Tony Martin of Zycko Polar Team still managed a smile for cameraman Tony Woodford from the depths of his sleeping bag on being congratulated on their excellent second place in the first leg of the Polar Race for the Wedgwood Blue Ice trophy. Oblivious to this his teammate, former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody, slept on. They had a few minor ailments but still seemed in remarkably good order after their gruelling journey, again done at remarkable speed, in the Arctic conditions.

See and listen to an interview with Tony Martin after the Polar Team's arrival. (340Kb movie clip)

Babs Powell Still out on the ice on their way to Polaris are the 3rd and 4th placed teams, ViP3 and Extreme Steps. The ViP3 team includes the only woman in the race, former Pan's People star Babs Powell. Both teams are running head to head and are in sight of each other even in the swirling snow conditions, which are prevalent today. Both ViP3 and Extreme Steps are hoping to reach the first checkpoint at Polaris tomorrow, weather and conditions permitting, so it should make for an interesting race for the line.

The checkpoint is right next to one of the most northerly mines in the world, the Polaris Mine, which for years mined some of the highest grade lead and zinc in the world. It is now in the process of being closed down and the land being returned to nature. (See the Polaris Mine article for more information about this amazing place). By April 2004 it will be no more, including their famed indoor swimming pool, which Jock reckons is "one of the seven wonders of the modern world" and by a long way the most northerly and most isolated swimming pool in the world!

The plans for the restart of the race are in hand with the plane provisionally booked to take Jock and Gary to Checkpoint 1 for the start of the next stage and bring back the checkpoint team to Resolute base. The revised position of the Checkpoint 2 means that the second leg will be approximately 121 miles.

12 April 2022 - First two teams in at the Polaris Checkpoint in record time and all teams making good progress

The Initial Style Explorers were the first team home in the opening leg of the Polar Race from Resolute to the first Checkpoint at Polaris in an astounding one and three quarter days! The picture taken from the air is of the Initial Style Explorers approaching the finish line of the first leg of the race. Only 7 hours behind were the Polar Team of Richard Dunwoody and Tony Martin. Both teams had employed a "cat and mouse strategy" throughout the first leg with the Initial Style Explorers team of Chris McLeod, Phil Ashby and Manley Hopkinson having slightly the better of the opening encounter.


Not yet home but still making excellent progress are ViP3 and Extreme Steps both of whom managed just under 15 miles which should see them both into the first checkpoint on Sunday if they keep up that speed.

Both Casper Hays and Mike Krimholtz who are the communication specialists in the two teams reported to having had a fantastic day.

When the organisers heard the positions of the Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team at their scheduled call on Thursday evening, their pre-planning proved invaluable as they immediately alerted Ken Borek Air that they needed to depart as early as possible the next morning (Friday). The team were up at 0330 hours and at the airstrip by 0500 hours with all the gear loaded onto the Twin Otter plane. Gary Walker and Liz McOwat joined the Checkpoint Team of Richard Bull, Richard Burgess, Ian Davis and Tony Woodford on the flight. The plane touched down at the checkpoint location and set up the finish line for the first leg of the Polar Race. Gary and Liz met and congratulated Initial Style Explorers before returning by plane to Resolute leaving the Checkpoint Team to await the arrival of the other teams.


11 April 2022 - Initial Style Explorers blast first leg of Polar Race 2003!

The Initial Style Explorers team of Chris McLeod (Portsmouth), Manley Hopkinson (Twickenham) and Phil Ashby (Cirencester) brought a new meaning to the words "speed of travel" in winning the first leg of the Polar Race 2003 for the Wedgwood Blue Ice Trophy.

They covered the first leg of the race from Resolute Bay in Nunavut, Canada to the Polaris Mine, a distance of 65 nautical miles in a fraction under 1.75 days on foot and skis, pulling sledges with all their supplies onboard. This was achieved in snow, ice and temperatures as low as -40 degrees centigrade, proving just how fast highly motivated people can push themselves in even the most severe conditions.

See the Initial Style team arrive at Checkpoint 1. (288Kb movie clip)

10 April 2022 - All four teams made great progress on the first day with Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team ahead of ViP3 and Extreme Steps...

We have a schedule for daily calls and the teams rang in last night to Gary with their first set of positions. All had had an excellent day and were in great spirits. See the Current Positions page for details of distances covered, which we will update on a daily basis. During the race, all distances given will be "as the crows" flies albeit the route the teams take each day will be dictated by the geography and their strategy.

A skidoo group went out later in the day (Wed 9 April) and located the Extreme Steps and ViP3 teams who had set up camp for the night.

They had had a super first day and were in good shape. The Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team are ahead of ViP3 and Extreme Steps.

The organisers spent the day getting things ready for going to the first checkpoint.

  • The Checkpoint team (Richard Bull, Richard Burgess, Ian Davis and Tony Woodford) packed all the equipment needed to set up camp and be ready for the arrival of the racers.
  • Richard Burgess collected together all the Checkpoint 1 re-supply food boxes.
  • Tony prepared all the charged batteries for the cameras, GPS, etc. that will go to Checkpoint 1.
  • From a medical safety perspective, Ian took the organisers through the emergency procedures for evacuating an individual from the ice and documented the individual responsibilities.
  • Jock has a plane on standby to go from 0400 to 1900 tomorrow.
  • After discussion with the pilot Checkpoint 1 has been moved 2.27 miles to the east so as to be closer to the Polaris mine in an easier landing position.
  • The Checkpoint support team is now ready to go.

The organisers have a daily 1000 hrs meeting to keep on top of the issues for the coming 24 hours and to revisit the plans for the next few days and the rest of the race.

Liz McOwat, the Finance Director of Initial Style Conferences who are sponsoring the Initial Style Explorers Team and is with us in Resolute Bay, went out today with some local hunters on a skidoo expedition and came back with this photo of a real live polar bear!

9 April 2022 - The Polar Race 2003 "probably the world's toughest race" started today in Resolute Bay in the Canadian Arctic

The pre-race final briefing took place at around 11:00 hours and included the latest weather information, a repeat of the importance of safety, the conditions of the ice along the route, and the last opportunity to ask questions of the assembled experts. The racers and organisers then moved to the Co-op where the start line, suitably dressed in flags, had been set up. Steve East of the Extreme Steps team was adorned with appropriate flags.


Sharp at 12:30 hours (18:30 BST) the first ever Polar Race for the Wedgwood Blue Ice Trophy started from outside the Co-op restaurant, in Resolute Bay, Canada and headed towards the finish line some 350 miles north on Ellef Ringnes Island.

The racers were cheered on by a crowd of children from the school and local townspeople, all curious to see what the British were up to this time. The race was started by the local mayor Aziz Kheraj and explorer David Hempleman-Adams, freshly back from becoming the first person to walk solo and unsupported to the North Geomagnetic pole. The Deputy Major of Resolute Bay, Tabitha, fired the gun and the four teams surged across the start line and headed towards the only passing mark on the course, the largest telegraph pole in Resolute Bay, a mere 100 metres away.


The competitors were under strict instructions by organiser Jock Wishart not to wipe themselves out on the telegraph pole or to cause it serious damage!

With former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody in the line-up the going was expected to be firm but in fact it was Initial Style Explorers team member, former marine Phil Ashby, who fell at the first hurdle slipping on the hard packed icy surface only a few metres over the line and landing squarely on his backside. Undeterred however, he was soon on his feet and heading towards the front of the pack.

Ahead of the competitors are many days of racing in probably the most extreme environment in the world.

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