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Antarctic News Round Up January 3rd

Here’s another quick round up of recent news about Antarctica you may have missed.

As you can guess, we try to stay abreast of any news that might affect our races or the environments in which we run races. Our focus at the moment is on Antarctica because that’s where our Germany v Austria Race to the South Pole is reaching its conclusion. That doesn’t mean we’ve taken our eye of the Arctic region, however. There will be an Arctic news round up along soon, I promise.

A Welshman Faces A Daunting Challenge

With our special interest in Chris Foot’s trek to the South Pole, it’s only natural that we follow the efforts of others pushing themselves hard and setting themselves real challenges. Welsh ex-rugby player Richard Parks is on a quest to become the first person to reach both poles and scales the peaks of the highest mountains in seven continents within one calendar year. He spent New Year at the South Pole as the first stop on his punishing schedule. You can read a report on his challenge – and his comments about being at the South Pole – in a good article on WalesOnline. Look out for his words about the “Austrian and German teams” – I think we can guess why they were at the base.

Not All Icebergs Look The Same

iceberg - photo by flickr user ae2005You may think that when it comes to icebergs, there’s not really a lot to say after ice, climate change, and, well, Titanic. Think again. A great post – and photo – on NASA’s Earth Observatory site is nothing less than a short introductory essay in types of iceberg. After reading this, you’ll be able to stun friends at parties with reference to iceberg wave damage and even compare their surfaces to types of quartz. The photo to the left was taken by Flickr contributor ae2005 from an Antarctic expedition in 2005.

Whaling Season Begins With Confrontations

If you visit ae2005′s photo stream, you’ll see she has a number of shots of whales, too. And whales are in the news in Australia at the moment, where the Australian Green party is leading a campaign to ask the government there to seek an injunction at the International Court of Justice in the Hague against this year’s hunt of whales in Antarctic waters. You can read the story on the HeraldSun site. Over the week-end, Sea Shepherd ships confronted Japanese whaling vessels before they began hunting. High power hoses rather than harpoons were the weapon of choice for the whalers on this occasion.

Posted in Extreme Headlines, South Pole0 Comments

From Hercules Inlet To The South Pole With Chris Foot

You know by now that we don’t just organise races in some of the world’s most extreme environments at EWR: we also take part in those races – and in other extreme challenges.

EWR friend and extreme consultant Chris Foot is one of those who not only helps others train and prepare for races in extreme conditions but also takes on challenges that would make even the hardiest think twice before attempting.

Earlier this year, Chris completed the 350 mile EWR Polar Challenge race to the Magnetic North Pole. This would be challenge enough for most people in one year. But not for Chris. On November 25th, Chris set off from Hercules Inlet (79.98565S,79.9768166W) in Antarctica and began a solo unsupported trek to the South Pole and back. His only companion is the pulk that he’s pulling along behind him.

Chris Foot - courtesy of 4ward Motion

Chris Foot - courtesy of 4ward Motion

There’s Method In The Madness

So, why is Chris attempting to become the first to make the journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole – and back – with no assistance and no support?

Chris is someone who believes in pushing boundaries. As an ex-Royal Marine and the youngest serving member of the SAS (at 21), he’d already experienced mental and physical endurance before he left the military and turned to performance training for individuals, sportsmen and women, and companies. As he says on his company website,

I firmly believe that all excellence can be modelled and applied effectively. The limits of individual potential can be stretched drastically when introduced to effective strategies and frameworks, which are most importantly matched by a persons desire to constantly enhance themselves in all capacities.

He hopes to match words and action on this challenge. Putting together the known risks of the Antarctic environment, the unforeseen dangers that may arise, and a long period of solitude is exactly the recipe for testing the limits of human performance.

And while Chris is hoping to push himself further than ever before, he will also be raising money for Combat Stress – a charity that helps former military personnel confront and overcome mental health problems.

Follow Chris From The Safety Of Your Browser

Follow Chris’s progress on the expedition site, where you can view a Google Map of his route and read daily updates of what’s happening on the Antarctic Plateau.

The Daily Telegraph recently ran a story about Chris, his training, and his expedition. Read it online at the Telegraph website.

Posted in Extreme Headlines, South Pole0 Comments

Stories from Antarctica You May Have Missed

Antarctic weatherHere’s a quick look at some stories from Antarctica I found across the web that you may have missed in the last week.

The BBC reports on a British expedition to Antarctica that claims a new record for the fastest crossing of the continent by land. The expedition – The Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition – comprised 10 men and made the 1209 mile crossing in 13 days. The expedition site has some great pictures of the preparations, the vehicles, and the journey itself.

Earlier this month saw the 20th anniversary of the first dog-sled trek across Antartctica. The multinational team of six men celebrated by meeting up at team leader Will Steger at his home in the US. Steger, from Minnesota, is now 66 but is still leading treks. Next year, he will leading a team into the Canadian Arctic. Read more on the TwinCities website.

For a taste of life at an Antarctic research post, you could do worse than read this Popular Mechanics artcle by their senior science editor, Jennifer Bogo. She’s visiting scientists at Palmer Station and gives a good account of how the simple act of ordering a coffee machine brings home just how far away this is from the mundane conveniences of everyday life.

We’ve experienced some cold and treacherous snowy conditions in the UK recently – and appear to be heading for some more as I write – but our cold and snow is really nothing compared to what can happen down in Antarctica. Our weather forecasters may like to label the conditions ‘polar’ or ‘Arctic’ but things happen differnetly in Antarctica. Read geologist John Goodge’s short piece on ‘Snowing in Antarctica’ from the science section of the New York Times.

Posted in Extreme Headlines, South Pole0 Comments

It’s Germany v Austria In The Race To The South Pole 2010

It’s Germany v Austria In The Race To The South Pole 2010

Next year’s EWR Centenary Race to the South Pole will see teams from Britain and Norway going head to head for national pride in a re-run of the famous Scott and Amundsen race of 1911.

This year’s race, however, has its own international challenge. The 2010 Race to the South Pole sees teams from Germany and Austria competing directly against each other across the Antarctic plateau.
Markus Lanz and Hermann Maier
The German team is led by TV presenter Markus Lanz and ultra marathon runner and extreme sportsman Joey Kelly. They’re joined by Claudia Beitsch – a Bio-Scientist – and Dennis Lehnert of the Air Force. Their Austrian opposition is led by legendary skier Hermann Maier and radio presenter Tom Walek. Making up the Austrian team are Sabrina Grillitsch – Austria’s only female mountain infantry soldier – and Alexander Serdjukov, who is a Husky racer.

Choosing the teams

Finding the final two contestants for both teams involved a series of three arduous training camps. Specialists from Extreme World Races (EWR) joined the team leaders to decide which contestants had what it took to make the trip.

In the first round, two camps were held in Germany and Austria. There were originally 9,000 applicants. Of these, only 60 contestants were invited to each of the camps. Through the course of 36 hours, contestants performed tasks to prove not only their team skills but also their endurance: did they have the will coupled with the raw ability to really go for the Pole when they reached Antarctica?

Only 10 people were selected from the initial training camps to compete in the final, which took place on the glacier at Kitzsteinhorn near Kaprun in Austria. Here, the contestants were confronted with conditions that were closer to what they would face in Antarctica. Cold winds and heavy snowfall at an altitude of 3,000m challenged them while they learned how to perform a rescue from a crevasse or to build a tent when snow covers everything within minutes.
Crevasse Rescue
Everything was done under the close watch of the EWR team and the team leaders. Finally, after another 36 strenuous hours, the two members who had made it onto each team were called forward. They knew now that they were heading for the adventure of their lives but also weeks of tough preparation before their departure to Antarctica.

The final training

In the first week of November, the teams travelled to Hjerkinn in Norway for the training that would teach them everything they needed to know to survive in the hostile environment of Antarctica – both in theory and in practice. Three days of classroom training about cold weather injuries, food in Antarctica, equipment preparation, and other pertinent issues were as vital as the 3 day mini-excursion that followed, where the emphasis was on team skills and the ever-important tent routines.

Training is over and race day is approaching fast. Today – December 5th – the teams left for Cape Town. After a few more days of preparation – getting kit and supplies sorted out – they will carry on to Antarctica itself on December 9th. After another week of acclimatisation and travel onto the Antarctic plateau, the race will start on December 20th.The winning team is expected to arrive at the Pole just after New Year’s Day.

Watch it on TV

German and Austrian TV crews are following the race, with the event to be broadcast in Germany by major station ZDF and in Austria by the main broadcaster ORF over six episodes in March 2011.

Posted in 2010 Race to the Pole. Austria v Germany, Extreme Headlines, Extreme Races0 Comments

‘Team Mercury’ Face Their Toughest Challenge in the ‘EWR Amundsen/Scott Centenary Race to the South Pole’

There’s tough and then there’s the EWR Centenary Race to the South Pole.

Three soldiers – RSM Mark Morgan, Warrant Officer Sean McIlroy, and Captain Billy Morris – are Team Mercury and, although they’ve competed in their fair share of endurance races, they know that the Centenary Race will test them to the limit.

The Centenary Race is only the third South Pole race ever and the second run by EWR (Extreme World Races). The race in 2009, with Ben Fogle and James Cracknell being defeated narrowly by the Norwegians, was filmed as part of BBC’s On Thin Ice documentary series.

The Centenary Race in 2011 commemorates the original battle between Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen across the Antarctic to reach the South Pole. The Norwegians won that race by 33 days.

This time, ‘Team Mercury’ will set off for their challenge from Novo – along with all the other teams and individuals competing in the Centenary Race – 100 years to the day after Amundsen beat Scott in the original epic duel.

The team members know just how arduous the race will be. “We’ll be skiing 16 hours a day and the rest of the time will be for sleeping and eating,” says Mark.

Having already started training in the Black Mountains and by pulling tyres on a Welsh beach, next year will see ‘Team Mercury’ training with EWR in Norway and Scotland.

Between the start on December 2011 and the race finish in mid-February 2012, Mercury and the other teams from around the world will negotiate multiple crevasses, cross snow bridges, and climb to 3,000m on the high polar plateau as they struggle to survive the 704km route.

Throwing in winds of up to 80mph and temperatures as low as -40C, this is the ultimate extreme endurance race and it takes place in the stunning landscape of one of the coldest, driest, and highest deserts on earth.

One difference between the Centenary Race to the South Pole and Scott and Amundsen’s original race will be the fact that all the competitors will be fitted with tracking devices and check in with regular live satellite phone calls. Progress of the teams will be updated hourly on the EWR website.

Posted in 2011. Race to the Pole. Scott v Amundsen Centenary, Extreme Races, Team Mercury, training0 Comments

The Power Of Beliefs

Here’s the second in John Campbell’s series of weekly posts for us. John is the author of “The Secret of Intimate Relationships” and his website is He’s also coaching EWR’s Frank Runge in preparation for the EWR Centenary Race to the South Pole in 2011.

Sunshine in Antarctica

Hi there. I trust you all had an amazing week and are starting to become aware of the words you speak! I’d like to start by offering you the following quotation about our beliefs:

You experience what you believe, unless you believe you won’t, in which case you don’t, which means you did!

Now, I invite you to take some time and let that little chestnut permeate your consciousness. At first glance, it might seem like a ‘conscious mind’ scrambler – which, after all is the object of the exercise. When we scramble our conscious mind we can access our true potential by connecting with our intuition (aka INNER TEACHER)! That’s when we get ‘in the flow’.

It took me a while to really understand the power of this statement about our beliefs and it was the catalyst to many positive changes. You may find you are in fits of laughter when it sinks in because the simplicity of the truth is always very amusing.

How Does This Information Help Us?

Once we accept this concept and understand that beliefs are ‘created’ – and can therefore be ‘un-created’ if they do not serve our ultimate good – we can then create new beliefs which better serve our needs.

In last week’s post I made a statement that ‘Extreme environments place extreme pressures on the minds of even the most highly trained and physically conditioned humans’. As I was preparing for this week’s post about beliefs, I re-read that piece and realised that it was technically incorrect. A more correct statement would be:

The beliefs about extreme environments will determine what pressures will be placed on the minds of even the most highly trained and physically conditioned humans.

Let me ask you this; how might it benefit you when undertaking any act of physical endurance if you were to believe that your body is actually neutral – that it doesn’t feel or experience anything OTHER than what your mind is telling it? Would that be a powerful belief and a great asset when engaged in an Extreme World Races event?

Polar Mountains

Approach obstacles confident of success

I do my best to ensure I allow only positive news stories into my consciousness and last week I sat, enthralled, witnessing the Sky News live coverage of the evacuation of the Chilean miners. What struck me most was when one of the guys – who was clearly a major influence on the others – said, ‘I always kept believing that we would ALL get out alive and in good condition’.

Then when he climbed out of the ‘cage’, he ran up to the cheering crowd punching the air with such great energy that one could be forgiven for thinking that he had just won some major sporting event. This man clearly was in touch with the power of his mind. He would be a great team member on any Polar race!

Dawning Of A New Era

We’re entering a period of human evolution which is truly going to blow away many of our old conditioned beliefs. Everywhere people are beginning to question the limitations which they and others have placed on themselves and they are beginning to question reality as it has hitherto been portrayed.

It is interesting to witness the emotions which can be evoked when these previously unfamiliar ideas are first considered. Some people become angry at the ideas because it is questioning millennia of limiting pre-conditioning.

In 2003, Sir Paul McCartney – arguably one of the most successful and wealthiest men in the world – went to the Thames site of the American mind control expert, David Blaine. McCartney became incandescent with rage and allegedly attacked a photographer who was photographing him screaming obscenities at Blaine in his box, where he had been without food for 44 days!

What could motivate someone like McCartney to such levels of anger? Simply because his conditioned beliefs were being challenged. Our ego (id) has an investment in keeping us limited and in believing that ‘we believe what we see’, NOT ‘we will see what we believe’. So it could be interesting to become aware of any emotions which you may experience when exploring any new ideas and make a note of them.

To end this week, I would like you to start recording some of your beliefs about life situations and, without judging yourself, see which of these beliefs are life limiting and life enhancing. You could also begin noticing the connections between your thoughts and your emotions. When you think a certain thought, how does it feel? Does it feel peaceful or disturbing, for instance? Then see if you can feel the effect on your physical energy as a result.

I wish you all an amazingly powerful week ahead.

Thought for the week: ‘It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful’

John Campbell
‘Inspiration rather than Motivation’

Posted in 2011. Race to the Pole. Scott v Amundsen Centenary, Extreme Headlines, The Human Races0 Comments


January 2011
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Race to the South Pole
Polar Challenge
Lake Baikal Race