Polar Race 2005

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Patrick Keatinge

Patrick Keatinge

Team: Pole Position

HOME:  Twickenham, UK
AGE:  33
HEIGHT:  183cm (6'0")
WEIGHT:  92kg (203 lbs)
INTERESTS:  Mountain sports, my tuba, water sports, my books, racket sports, coprology, contact sports, collecting skis, non-contact sports, ballet, sports and thinking
PRIOR ARCTIC EXPERIENCE:  Ski mountaineering in Greenland
PRIOR EXPEDITION EXPERIENCE:  Climbing in Siberia, cycling round India, plodding across Tasmania
PREVIOUS FURTHEST NORTH:  Aqqutikitsoq glacier, Greenland
PREVIOUS COLDEST PLACE:  Driesh mountain in Glen Clova, Scotland
REASON FOR ENTERING RACE:  To find out the ending


Despite being born in a desert kingdom my body appears to have a pronounced distrust of heat. After years of school terms in Britain and holidays in the middle east it became obvious that it was happier rolling about in mud on a rugby pitch in a British winter than wilting on a tennis court in 40 degrees of Arabian sunshine. Unfortunately my body was joined in life by a perverse nature that would not always let my body go where it wanted, which has resulted in sojourns in Australia and India and an imminent departure to Angola.

My first realisation that there might be an active life that involved neither a rugby ball nor an oar came during my pre-university gap year when I taught in Australia. There I became heavily involved in the Outdoor Education programme, which included climbing, bush-walking, canoeing and skiing. On my return to Britain I reverted to type and at university, despite Ewan's best attempts to drag my health down to his sorry levels, had a moderately successful rugby career.

With an undeserved degree in my back pocket I persuaded BP's recruitment panel that I might be good for something and that I was worth waiting half a year for. Three days later my bike, Wolfgang, and I hopped on a plane to Delhi and spent a sweaty but enjoyable five months travelling round India together, one moment relishing the country and the people, the next cursing everything under the sun as we dived into yet another dusty ditch to avoid an oncoming truck.

After a four-week rest at home, which included my sister's wedding and the post-expedition explosion of my body from 13½ to 16 stone, I headed north to start work in Aberdeen. It was here that my body finally admitted that it was no longer up to rugby and, inspired by the glories of the Scottish hills, I developed a love of outdoor sports. This has now taken me, amongst other places, climbing in Europe and Siberia, ski-mountaineering in Greenland, Morocco and the Alps, ski-touring in Norway, surfing through Europe and Africa and walking anywhere I can find, all supplemented by regular doses of the Scottish Highlands.

Throughout this time I have continued my quest to become a Renaissance Man, so far with little sign of success. In my attempts to prove that an engineer can appreciate culture I have dabbled in ballet and the opera, bluffed my way through art exhibitions, read a myriad of books 'for the layman', played my tuba to the consternation of my neighbours, admired architecture, and, despite nodding knowledgeably at frequent intervals, singularly failed to understand a single word that my more artistic friends have said to me.

Now, on the point of being posted to Angola, I take this opportunity to get my fix of the Arctic cold and hope that it will last me through a couple of years of tropical heat.

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