Scott Gilmour is our man on the scene to cover this month’s training camp in Norway for the 2011 Polar Challenge. All competitors for EWR races – whether our Polar Challenge to the North Pole or the Centenary Race to the South Pole at the end of 2011 – participate in training at our centre in Hjerkinn, Norway. The training is an essential part of the EWR experience and not only does it prepare competitors for the extreme conditions they’ll face in the Arctic or in Antarctica, but also provides them a memorable experience and a set of skills that will stay with them long after they’re reached the finish line of their chosen competition. Scott will be sending back his impressions of his experiences in Norway over the next week. Here’s part one of his training diary.
Catching a 7.20am flight can affect the human body – and mine in particular – in ways both numerous and severe. Add to that a 3am start and there can be only one reliable treatment: a 12 hour journey across a frozen Norway undertaken with plenty of eagerness, anticipation, and no rest. This was my welcome to Polar Challenge 2011 training.
It was the first time that all of this year’s teams for the 2011 Polar Challenge had met. Although our individual travel plans may have differed, our goal was the same: to survive a week of intense Polar training.
The majority of teams and individuals met in London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and a sense of excitement clearly masked any signs of tiredness. The conversation started to flow immediately. “How have you been?” asked many. However, there was also an undercurrent of competition, evidenced in questions like, “How has your training been going?”
On the plane, the teams became more insular. This presented a good opportunity to weigh up the competition. As the flight progressed, there was much laughter and the sort of banter that can bond or break a team under the right conditions. Then we touched down on time in Oslo in perfect conditions – heavy snow!
Welcome To Norway
We were greeted in Oslo by Jack Daniell, who had flown in from Copenhagen. Not long after, it was the turn of Tom Clipston and Ian Mullane of Team CSC. One had flown halfway across the world from Singapore and the other had been in Norway bagging a few days of additional ski training.
A brisk walk to the station was followed by a brief wait and then we were aboard the train to Hjerkinn. The last part of the journey at last. I was beginning to flag. It’s dark in Norway not long after 4pm in the evening at this time of year and, as we headed further north, the darker it became. Many of the travellers had become tired by this point and were catching up on some welcome sleep.
The EWR team greeted our arrival at Hkerkinn before we were transported to the training centre – just 2 minutes away by car. At the training centre we were given a quick brief and assigned our quarters.
Then bed at last.
It’s been a long day. More from me tomorrow.