Race to the South Pole

Published on 18.01.2009 - General Info

The idea of a race had been in the air for a number of years already, but no-one had so far dared to organise one. This time, though, the race is off and running: a number of Norwegian businessmen have organised a speed race to the South Pole and the teams are currently pitting their skills and wits against one another out there on the ice.

The event is called the "Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race" and has been organised by a Norwegian company, Amundsen Omega 3 AS, which sells dietary products and supplements. This is the first time the race has been held. Six teams have taken on the challenge, hoping to win the modest prize of £42 300 (approximately €50 000). There has to be a minimum of three people in each team, one of whom must have previous polar experience to his or her credit.

So, who are these eighteen intrepid adventurers?

At the top of the list is the Qinetiq team, featuring the well-known British TV presenter Ben Fogle and James Cracknell, a world champion rower, who accompanies the television star on all of his expeditions and adventures. When Fogle was asked why he had decided to enter this race, he replied: "I want to experience this final untamed region of our world. I also want to test myself physically and mentally. This is a unique experience in a person's life."

The second team in the race (Southern Lights) includes a grandmother and a grandfather. Tess Burrows, 60, and Peter Hammond, 62, are sporty, hyperactive characters who are used to raising funds for humanitarian causes (Tibetan refugees in particular). Over the past eight years, they have raised over £100 000 by taking part in sporting challenges of every kind, including marathons, extreme climbs (Everest), etc. This time around, they are talking about sending messages of peace from the South Pole and raising funds to support a better understanding of the environment in the world.

A third team (Due South) is made up of a 42-year-old South African (Hylton James, a financial analyst, aircraft pilot and with 116 ultra-marathons to his credit) and two Britons, Rachel Andrews (a physiotherapist and mountaineer aged 37) and Phil Hayday-Brown who has previously guided expeditions to the four corners of the world.

Team number four, Missing Link, consists of two Norwegians, Rune Malterud, who has entered this adventure because he likes winning, and Stian Aker, a professional soldier who has a great deal of experience on long ski treks.

Team five is the Cornwall South Pole Challenge. These are three Brits, Gary Bullen, Gary Marshall and Christian Hilkirk, who aim to raise money for the 'Children's Hospice South West'.

Finally, there is the The South Pole Flag team. This is the adventure of Mark Pollock, a blind man who has rebuilt his life in spectacular fashion after losing his sight. His achievements include the marathon to the North Pole in 2004. Mark's two companions are Simon O'Donnell and the Norwegian Inge Solheim, who has already been to the North Pole seven times.

The competitors crossed the start line on 4th January and are travelling unsupported until the re-supply point at the halfway mark of the race. When they left, they had approximately 750 kilometres to cover before reaching the South Pole.

On day 15 of their race, i.e. 18th January, the Missing Link team was in the lead, with 626 kilometres behind it already. Follow the progress and daily positions of the teams on this page. As we said earlier, in addition to the information generated by the race PC, each team has its own website and blog. There is currently a gap of 155 kilometres between the leaders and the team in last place.

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