Polar Race 2005

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Polar Race 2003 News: 16-24 April 2003 (Leg 2)

24 April 2022 - Steve East and Mike Krimholtz of Extreme Steps give their account of the second leg

With Extreme Steps at Checkpoint 2, all teams are doing their preparation for the race restart tomorrow. Mike and Steve of Extreme Steps found time yesterday to jot down their thoughts on racing from the Polaris Mine (Checkpoint 1) to just North of Bathurst Island (Checkpoint 2).

Back at base in Resolute Bay, preparations continue for the move of the checkpoint team from Checkpoint 2 to Checkpoint 3 once the race has been restarted. The next leg of the race is mainly over sea ice and the conditions expected are to be hard on the first day as they cross rubble and soft snow near the coast, after that it will start to flatten out and it will be similar to conditions already experienced. This leg involves little coastal navigation and has no choice of route. The racers have to follow a straight course on a bearing of 335° using different navigational techniques including the sun and wind.

The weather today and tomorrow is causing concern on two fronts, firstly for the racers during the first day of the third leg and secondly as bad weather means the plane will not be able to get to the checkpoint team to move them on. Whereas at Checkpoint 2, there is a marked runway (well we put down two black rubbish bags filled with snow at each end of a flattish area of ice), a suitable landing spot as near as possible to the planned position of Checkpoint 3 will need to be found by the pilots. Bad weather will make this much more difficult than on the previous two occasions when the weather has been good.

When the plane goes out to move the checkpoint team from Checkpoint 2 to Checkpoint 3, Tony Woodford will join Richard Burgess and Ian Davis will come back to base. Tony who is an experienced biker in the UK has become a Skidoo wiz here in the Arctic.

We are constantly looking in detail at the logistics of getting the racers back from the finish line, again weather and planes play a major role in getting people to the finish coinciding with the arrival of the racers.

23 April 2022 - ViP3 reaches Checkpoint 2 at 2055 hrs, so all four teams have now arrived


The ViP3 team, which consists of Casper Hays, Babs Powell and Richard Raine put in a tremendous effort today and covered 17 miles to get to the checkpoint late this evening (Tuesday 22 April).

Casper Hays said: "We are all OK and extremely pleased with how things are going." When we spoke to the Checkpoint Team at 2130, ViP3 were putting up their tent and making camp before going into the checkpoint tent for a dinner cooked for them. Then they will have a well earned rest and, subject to satisfactory medical assessment, all teams will restart on Thursday 24 April.

Initial Style Explorers spent their rest time yesterday (21 April) setting up a coffee bar using their pulks. They then served coffee and hot chocolate to the Extreme Steps team and the checkpoint boys. Did Manley and the coffee bar look like his feast in Ottawa?

View from a Checkpoint

Richard Burgess was at Checkpoint 1 with Richard Bull, Tony Woodford and Ian Davis from 11 April to 15 April. As well as igloo building and visiting the Polaris Mine, the main purpose of the Checkpoint Team is to meet the teams as they arrive at the checkpoint, handle any problems medical or otherwise that the racers have, communicate with Race Control in Resolute on a daily scheduled basis, take pictures and video footage, re-supply all the teams with food and fuel and start the next leg of the Race. This is Richard Burgess' view of life at Checkpoint 1.

22 April 2022 - Extreme Steps reach Checkpoint 2 proving they really are getting to grips with Arctic travel and racing. Also read about the Polar Team, a team made up of "tough" characters

The Extreme Steps team of Mike Krimholtz and Steve East completed the second leg of the Polar Race when they arrived at Checkpoint 2 at 0817 hrs this morning (21 April).

They will now have some well-earned rest. Checkpoint 2 is just over half way to the Magnetic North Pole and thus the racers are more than half way to the finishing line. Checkpoint 2 is in Cator Harbour on Sherard Osborn Island.

ViP3 have travelled 13.1 miles since they last called in yesterday and plan to walk for another one or two hours this evening. The conditions underfoot are tough with a few inches of loose snow but the weather is good with no wind. They intend to start early tomorrow and do the remaining miles to Checkpoint 2 where they will be welcomed and cheered in by the other racers and the Checkpoint Team.

Jock Wishart writes about the Polar Team:

The Polar team who are currently lying second in the Polar Race is made up of two very determined characters.

Tony Martin, their leader, is a former army commando who spent 12 years as a ski trainer and in civilian life is now an event manager. He is a real "livewire" but efficient and businesslike in everything he does. Someone whose word you can always trust and to whom there is no problem that cannot be overcome. If Tony says he is going to do it then he will do it!

He has an ideal teammate in Richard Dunwoody, one of Britain's greatest jockeys. Due to injury Richard had to retire prematurely from horse racing. He is however a highly competitive person so he was looking around to find something else he could really get his teeth into. He had first met David Hempleman-Adams at an Honours ceremony in 1993 and he was eventually persuaded to walk across Baffin Island with another friend of ours Neill Williams. From that moment on he was hooked by the Arctic. For Richard a race in these conditions is something close to Nirvana!

As they have already demonstrated, the pair of them will drive themselves to the point of exhaustion in order to win this race. At the moment they lie second but if the leaders falter the pair of them will be ready to pounce.

Jock Wishart
21 April 2022

21 April 2022 - Both Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team had encounters with polar bears during the second leg

Both the Initial Style Explorers team of Chris McLeod, Phil Ashby and Manley Hopkinson and the Polar Team which is composed of champion jockey, Richard Dunwoody and former marine Tony Martin had to take defensive action against a male polar bear in the same location: Polar Bear Pass on Bathurst Island which, as the name suggests, is a migratory area for these bears.

In Initial Style's case the team fired 5 shots above the bear but it still kept 'moving in'. The racers however showed great calm in the situation and, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, banged their ski sticks together over their heads and this eventually scared the bear off. This noise had a greater effect than the gunshots!

A couple of hours later, the Polar Team also encountered, in exactly the same location, what is presumed to be the same polar bear. Alarmingly this bear again showed keen interest in the racers. This time the four shots that the Polar Team fired over its head did manage to scare it off.

Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team are recovering at Checkpoint 2 after the gruelling finish of the second leg but they have found time to write in their own words their accounts of the second leg including their version of the polar bear incident.

Also read the press release on the polar bear story.

Exhausted and tired at the end of the 2nd leg Tony Martin said: "The race is certainly on! In covering approximately 200 statute miles in 6 days and taking the lead from Initial Style Explorers after 5 days, records must surely have been broken. Both the leading teams have been close to complete exhaustion and hypothermia on a number of occasions because of the sheer pace they have kept up. This strategy is not recommended for novices but will be employed by both teams to the end. This race is certainly the most physical, mentally the toughest and probably the most strategic race I have ever competed in."

Dr Ian at Checkpoint 2 has been checking over the health of the Initial Style team and Chris McLeod of Initial Style Explorers described their health as "fighting fit", however

  • Phil has some frost nip on his nose but no problem.
  • Chris has a slightly damaged cornea due to wind and cold, however Dr Ian says a few days rest with eye covered and he will be fine.
  • Manley has no problems!

Meanwhile the Extreme Steps and ViP3 teams are still racing to Checkpoint 2. During their scheduled calls this evening:

  • Mike Krimholtz (Extreme Steps) said: "Had an excellent day covering 17 miles and we are now 11 miles from Checkpoint 2. Intend to rest for a while then move straight on to CP2 and estimate we will be there by 0600 hrs - tell the checkpoint team eggs scrambled for breakfast please."
  • Casper Hays (ViP3) said: "We have had a great day, are all fit and well and have done over 14 miles so far today. We intend to continue walking this evening until we have done more than 15 miles."

ViP3 and Extreme Steps during Leg 1

20 April 2022 - Initial Style Explorers win the second leg of the Polar Race with another tremendous burst to the finish and celebrate Manley Hopkinson's birthday in style at Checkpoint 2

Initial Style Explorers reached Checkpoint 2 in 3 days 13 hours 32 min to win the second leg of the Polar Race for the Wedgwood Blue Ice Trophy. They arrived at 0149 hours on the 19 April in atrocious weather with strong winds swirling around making travel very difficult. They had travelled continuously all day and evening on the 18 April to cover the last 30 miles in one long, arduous push for home. ISE arrived on Manley's birthday and the checkpoint team and the rest of the Initial Style Explorers sang 'Happy Birthday' before Initial Style Explorers who were exhausted had a well earned rest.

Polar Team who had been playing a cat and mouse game with ISE throughout the second leg arrived at Checkpoint 2 at 1301 with their forced stop last night losing them 11 hours on ISE. However Tony Martin reported that he believed, after talking with the checkpoint team that they had made the correct decision in stopping when they did.

Both ViP3 and Extreme Steps had a tough day in extremely cold weather and they were heading into the wind all the time. Mike Krimholtz of Extreme Steps said: "We are stopped in the lee of the land and it is the first time we have not had a biting wind in our faces for the last couple of days".

The Polar Race is certainly living up to its billing as "probably the world's toughest race".

19 April 2022 - Checkpoint 2 established in Cator Harbour on Sherard Osborn Island. Polar Team and Initial Style Explorers are expected to arrive late this evening (Resolute Time)

The checkpoint team of Richard and Ian flew out to Cator Harbour today and established a camp to await the arrival of the leading teams in the Polar Race. The weather in Resolute was windy with low cloud and the pilots informed us that there was a possibility that we would not be able to land, however as we approached Sherard Osborn Island the weather improved and, fortunately, a landing was possible.

Gary and Tony accompanied the checkpoint team on the flight. Tony helped to erect the large tent whilst Gary communicated the actual position of the camp back to base in Resolute. Initial Style and Polar Team contacted base to find out the exact position of Checkpoint 2 as they headed for the finishing line of the second leg. When the plane left Richard and Ian were ready for the first arrivals.

ViP3 had bad weather today, high gusting wind and did not set off until 4pm when the weather improved. Unfortunately, it did not last and when they rounded the next headland they were forced to stop and make camp having achieved only 3.7 miles.

Extreme Steps achieved 12.6 miles and at their scheduled call were making camp in high winds. This kept their call very short!

Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team are both going flat out for the checkpoint and, hopefully, their arrival will be the main news in the next update.

18 April 2022 - Things are hotting up at the front of the Polar Race as the Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team vie for the lead

Both the Polar Team and Initial Style Explorer teams, who won the first leg are pushing themselves to the limit in order to get to the finish of the second leg of the Polar Race 2003 in first position.

This second leg, which is 120 miles from the start at Polaris (Checkpoint 1) to the finish (Checkpoint 2) at a point North of Bathurst Island, is tough and demanding with thin ice and open water to be avoided at all costs.

Currently the Polar Team of Tony Martin and Richard Dunwoody have gained on Initial Style Explorers and are now only 2 miles behind having gained 3 miles on their opposition in the last 24 hours. Both teams are now in the area of thinnest ice and expect to finish tomorrow though it is anyone's guess who will be in front!

It is certain that the Checkpoint Team will have to deal with two very tired teams when they first arrive.

The checkpoint team is flying out to Checkpoint 2 tomorrow (Friday 18 April) and plans to be in position by 1600hrs. Initially, Richard Burgess and Ian Davis will be the support people at the checkpoint.

17 April 2022 - Impressive performance by the Extreme Steps team who are Arctic novices

All teams travelled pretty fast and covered some very respectable mileages on the first day of the second leg. During the second day the going was tough with a lot of pressure ridges but again all teams turned in impressive mileages. See Race Progress for details.

Polar Race organiser, Jock Wishart writes...

Particularly impressive was the performance of the Extreme Steps team made up of Steve East and Dr. Mike Krimholtz, who are rapidly improving from being rank novices to hardened racers. They have a good routine and now they are over the initial "Arctic shock" are showing good form, though that does not particularly surprise me from their previous experiences.


Steve, I have known now for 6-7 years as a fellow dragon boat racer for the Kingston Royals Dragon Boat Club, one of the top dragon boat clubs in the UK. He was not particularly good at it when he started, being a bit physically weak at the time but he persevered as he does with everything to become a stalwart of the club. Always the guy who is last away and the person you can always count upon to do the odd and often dirty jobs; a thoroughly nice man who you might underestimate at your peril. He has given up a lot to do this race, which has been a dream of his for a long time. He is certainly proving what he is capable of now!

He is well complemented by Mike Krimholtz, a doctor who at first I thought might be more interested in his experiments on melatonin than racing. His psychometric profile however pointed to him being determined and a leader. He now seems to relish the whole Arctic experience and is growing in stature every day.

Extreme Steps - a team not to be taken lightly.

Jock Wishart
16 April 2022

16 April 2022 - Leg 2 of Polar Race 2003 gets underway at 1216 hrs in perfect conditions

Despite only getting in at 1600 hours the previous day, both the ViP3 and Extreme Steps teams opted to start again at noon on the 15th April, which was the scheduled start day for the second leg, along with Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team who had come in a few days earlier and were well rested.

Gary Walker, from the organising team, started the race with Richard Bull firing the starting gun.

The second leg is both the longest and most complex as well as there being a number of places where the teams could encounter thin ice. These areas need to be avoided and the teams were given a briefing on the ice conditions by Jock Wishart who had got the latest information from the local weatherman and from the Canadian Weather website.

This leg starts from Polaris with the teams heading up the centre of Queen's Channel before crossing to the shore of Bathurst Island at Airship Point to avoid thin ice. The teams will then work their way up the shore to the top of the island before crossing the mainland to Cator Harbour on Sherard Osborn Island where Checkpoint 2 is located - a distance of 122 miles.

It will be interesting to see what pace the teams keep up in the excellent conditions prevailing but it is expected that strategy decisions will be more important in this leg than the last.

The checkpoint team flew back to base at Resolute with the pilot doing an overhead pass and wag of his wings to wish the racers on their way.

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