Polar Race 2005

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Polar Race 2003 News: 25-29 April 2003 (Leg 3)

29 April 2022 - Polar Team and Extreme Steps get to Checkpoint 3. Richard Dunwoody's injuries mount and a medical emergency flight goes out to CP3

Polar Team and Extreme Steps neck and neck?

Polar Team arrived at Checkpoint 3 at 0303 hours this morning (April 28) with Extreme Steps getting in at 0955 hrs. Both were great performances however they were overshadowed by a call at around 1500 hrs, which said that Richard Dunwoody had a badly dislocated shoulder and emergency medical assessment was needed. ViP3 are 13.5 miles from Checkpoint 3 and will start early and get to Checkpoint 3 tomorrow.

Situation report at 1830 hrs April 28, 2022 by Gary Walker at Polar Race Control in Resolute

A medical emergency plan was put into action and a plane put on standby. An emergency meeting in the Control Room at Resolute led by project leader, Jock Wishart, assessed the situation and, in consultation with Dr Ian Davis, it was decided that it was serious enough that a plane should be sent to the checkpoint with Dr Ian on board. Gary drove Jock, Ian and Mark Harris to the airport where the plane took off at 1815 hrs with an ETA of 1945 at Checkpoint 3. Mark Harris was the 3rd member of the Polar Team and he had had to drop out for medical reasons prior to the start of the race. Mark arrived in Resolute last Saturday to support the Polar Team at the finish.

The medical emergency flight sets off

Situation report at 2100 hrs April 28, 2022 by Jock Wishart at Checkpoint 3 with the Emergency Medical Team

Dr Ian's medical assessment on Richard Dunwoody is that, following manipulation and a measured amount of morphine treatment, he is just about OK to continue. Richard is desperate to finish the race and is showing the physical courage and mental strength for which he was renowned as a jockey. The decision to send in the emergency medical team by plane was proved to be correct.

Situation report at 2300 hrs April 28, 2022 by Gary Walker at Polar Race Control in Resolute

Jock and Richard Burgess arrived back at 1030 hours from the emergency flight to Checkpoint 3 leaving the checkpoint manned by Dr Ian, Tony Woodford and Mark Harris. The last leg start plan is for Polar Team and Initial Style Explorers to start the final leg tomorrow (April 29) at noon. Extreme Steps will start on Wednesday at 0800 hrs with ViP3 assuming ViP3 are sufficiently well rested and wish to restart.

Dr Ian decided to stay with the checkpoint team in case of further medical treatment that might be required. Mark Harris also stayed as an extra support person at Checkpoint 3, this should make the tent quite cosy.

As an interesting aside...

It is amazing the people you meet here, for the last couple of days two guys planning to cycle to the Magnetic Pole were here preparing for a training cycle ride. They set off following the route the racers took except for the first mile they used the airport road. On the way back from the airport, Gary met them after they had just stopped to do some last minute adjustments to the trailers of their bikes. The "outrigger skis" needed adjustment.

Polar bikers

They were keen to enter the Polar Race 2005 with a few bike teams! See www.polarroll.com.

28 April 2022 - Initial Style Explorers keep up a relentlessly fast pace and continue their winning ways by finishing first in the third leg of the Polar Race. Also read Steve East's account of Extreme Steps race so far and Dr Ian's view of medicine in the Arctic

At 1333 hours today (April 27) Initial Style Explorers arrived at the finishing line of the third leg of the Polar Race. With a final leg of only 40 miles to come, surely only injury or major disaster can stop Initial Style Explorers winning the Wedgwood Blue Ice Trophy to be awarded to the first ever winners of the Polar Race.

Initial Style Explorers

Manley Hopkinson (who had a birthday a couple of days ago at Checkpoint 2) said: "We achieved another good time on this leg because of our intensive pre-race training in France and Norway. This leg was technically very demanding with ice rubble and very slow conditions. However, very happy to be here but very tired and looking forward to the rest."

Manley Hopkinson's birthday party

Polar Team and Extreme Steps are expected to reach Checkpoint 3 in the early hours of tomorrow (28 April). During this leg Extreme Steps have been pushing Polar Team very hard and which of these two teams gets to Checkpoint 3 first, to get second place in this leg, is creating great interest at the moment. ViP3's pace indicates that they may well arrive the day after Extreme Steps and Polar Team.

Extreme Steps

Steve East of Extreme Steps has written an account of the race up to and including arriving at Checkpoint 2.

Ian Davis, the doctor with the Polar Race, has written an article giving background on his role in the race and on medicine in Arctic conditions.

27 April 2022 - Babs Powell former member of iconic dance troupe Pan's People and a member of the ViP3 team is making an epic journey

Initial Style Explorers are aiming to get to Checkpoint 3 tomorrow with Polar Team and Extreme Steps, who have gained on Polar Team, likely to get there late tomorrow or early the day after (28 April). ViP3 did sixteen miles again today and are clearly getting stronger.

Jock Wishart talking about the ViP3 team says:

Although polar records and "who has done what" are unreliably recorded, if Babs makes it to the finish of the first ever Polar Race, I don't think that there will be much question that she will achieve a "first" in the polar regions being the first woman of her generation to reach the Magnetic North Pole. She is an example to us all and certainly to those who consider anyone over 50 to be past achieving tough, physical feats of endurance.

Her team members are pretty impressive people too. They have all worked together not only to help Babs' dream come true but also their own as well.


Richard Raine, I have known for over 30 years from my student days at Durham where we rowed together. He is a quiet, steady and very determined person who has kept himself very fit. There is little that can rattle him and he is thorough in everything he does. He had decided that he would take some "time out" this year and felt this was the right time for an adventure of this sort. He is also a close friend of Andy Higgs, another buddy of mine from Durham who acquitted himself so well in the first ever "novices" walk to a pole in 1996. Having heard so much about it from Andy, he decided to try it for himself.

Casper Hays is a former "Green Jacket" turned Metropolitan Policeman who out of the blue phoned me up wanting to take part. Some people talk about the things they want to do others just get on and do it; Casper was one of the latter. His cheque to cover the deposit for the race arrived the next morning. When I met him for the first time I was immediately stuck by this very sincere young man whom you felt could deal with anything thrown at him.

When ViP3 make it to the finish line, it will be a magnificent team effort and the support given to Babs by Richard and Casper will be a major contributory factor.

Jock Wishart
26 April 2022

In the news story of the 23rd April 2003, we told you that Initial Style Explorers set up a coffee bar on the ice which they claim, probably justifiably, to be the most northerly in the world. Here's a picture...

Polar coffee bar

26 April 2022 - All four teams cover excellent distances on Day 17 of the Polar Race, the checkpoint team moves to Checkpoint 3 and the organisers in Resolute get a scare

Initial Style Explorers continue to lead the Polar Race for the Wedgwood Blue Ice Trophy.

Chris McLeod, on this evening's satellite call, said: "Another monster 12 hours requiring maximum effort every step. Feels good to be leading at the front flying the Initial Style flag. Can't become complacent, each day requires maximum effort. One bad day or an injury and the competition will only be too pleased to jump in our shoes."

Polar Team were keeping the pressure on but suffered another setback when Richard Dunwoody acquired a hip problem.

Polar Team

Extreme Steps did 19.7 miles today and Mike Krimoltz said: "We are determined to hit 20 miles tomorrow." ViP3 are in excellent fettle and covered over 16 miles.

The checkpoint team moved on from CP2 to CP3 and are now established and awaiting the arrival of the first racers. Tony Woodford has joined Richard Burgess and Ian Davis has returned to base in Resolute.

At 1600 hrs, Mike Turner of the RCMP in Resolute contacted Gary Walker at the Polar Race Control Centre as Trenton Search and Rescue had picked up an emergency beacon signal in the area.

Mike Turner of the RCMP with Gary Walker

The emergency procedures were quickly started, with a plane at Resolute put on standby and a plane that was servicing the Polar Shelf scientists also put on alert. Gary quickly established that the position given by Captain Houde at Trenton was within twenty miles of Checkpoint 3. When Mike obtained the identifier of the beacon, Gary was also able to confirm that it was one that had been issued to Richard Burgess who was at Checkpoint 3. Richard was contacted on the Iridium phone and it was confirmed that he and Tony were both safe and had no problem. The Personal Locator Beacon that had gone off had not been triggered in anger and its seal was still intact. The battery in the rogue unit was disconnected and by 1830 hrs, Trenton informed us that the emergency satellites were not picking up any further signal. The incident was confirmed as a false alarm and the planes taken off standby.

Whilst the adrenalin had flowed for two and half hours, the important thing was that no one was in difficulty and that the emergency systems had worked. The key issue is to establish how the beacon had been triggered and this will probably only be known when the unit in question has been returned to the manufacturer.

25 April 2022 - All the teams set off on the third leg of the Polar Race

Richard Burgess and Ian Davis started the third leg of the Polar Race for the Wedgwood Blue Ice Trophy at 1210 hrs today (24 April). All four teams (Extreme Steps, Initial Style Explorers, Polar Team and ViP3) started together to cover approximately 90 miles to Checkpoint 3.

The weather today was at its most contrary, high winds and blizzard conditions in Resolute and a white out near Isachsen (where we have made contacts with some Finns who are on the ice up there). At Checkpoint 2 where the race re-started, there was little wind, good visibility and no snow. On other days you get the most fabulous blue skies and some incredible sunsets but not today.

Arctic sunset

Following this evening's scheduled calls, all teams are covering good miles in overcast conditions with rubble and deep, fresh snow under foot, which slows down progress. Initial Style Explorers and Polar Team are (surprise surprise) neck and neck but Richard Dunwoody of Polar Team dislocated his left arm in a fall and, although it has been put back, it is going to impede Polar Team's rate of progress. ViP3 are camped for the night but all the other teams are pushing on for a few more hours.

Yesterday, we mentioned that Tony Woodford was going out to the next checkpoint. Tony is the amateur cameraman for the race who is doing a thoroughly professional job. He has written an article about creating video footage out here in the Arctic and the extra difficulties it imposes on not only the equipment but also the camera operator.

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