Todd’s record smashed!

Published on 11.01.2009 - SouthPole Quest

Just a few days after the impressive feat achieved by the American Todd Carmichael, his speed record for the trek between Hercules Inlet and the South Pole has just been beaten.

Anyone who regularly follows the dispatches and reports put out by the International Polar Foundation will know that our team firmly believes that the polar regions deserve better than the rather artificial setting of speed records over this or that route. But for all that, we have a duty to inform the public and it gives us great delight to report these amazing feats. We particularly admire them when the achievement or record is established on behalf of a noble cause.

Over the course of this 2008-09 season, the trek between Hercules Inlet and the South Pole has seen two speed record attempts and we have monitored their progress on a twice-weekly basis. The first record attempt was successfully completed by Todd Carmichael, a 44-year-old coffee merchant from Philadelphia, in 39 days, 7 hours and 33 minutes, thereby beating the previous record set in 2006 by the 33-year-old Briton, Hannah McKeand, with a time of 39 days, 9 hours and 33 minutes. Since then the other attempt by the trio of Richard Weber, Ray Zahab and Kevin Vallely has just recorded the staggering time of 33 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes! This smashes Todd Carmichael's time by over five and a half days! Over the months ahead, of course, there will doubtless be a succession of little squabbles between the various specialists, with each one clinging on to his or her position and claiming to be the one and only holder of the record.

But it is important to remember that in these record-setting adventures, we are seeing the rapid advance of the technical and logistical side of things, with the equipment used in the polar regions becoming increasing sophisticated. The direct result of all this progress is effectively to shorten the formerly huge distances involved with the Antarctic icecap. This can only be of benefit to everyone, researchers, support staff and technicians, who works on the frozen continent all year round, regardless of the base or research station they may be attached to.

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