Extreme World Races 2010 Race to the Pole

ready steady go

The last vehicle-supported project to reach Pole in 2010-11 was the Extreme World Races event between German and Austrian teams. Sponsored by Extreme World Races as a preliminary event to their more massive race planned for 2011-12, it featured two four-person teams from Germany and Austria. The German team was led by celebrity TV presenter Markus Lanz and triathlete/musician Joey Kelley, along with biochemist Claudia Beitsch and Air Force member Dennis Lenhart; the Austrians were led by Olympic ski gold medalist Hermann Maier and triathlete/radio personality Tom Walek, joined by Sabrina Grillitsch (the only woman in Austria's mountain infantry), and dogsled racer Alexander Serdjukov. Two of the four members of each team were selected from over 9000 applicants during a series of three training camps conducted by the Extreme World Races team.

Above, one view of the start (ORF). Below, a map of the event (AT).

a short drive?

no plugins at this camp site
The race received extensive support from Arctic Trucks...they utilized six of their 6x6 and 4x4 vehicles, four of which supported the entire race and made the trip to Pole at least once. At right, the campsite of one of the Hilux 6x6 crews at 11,150' altitude on 14 December (AT) as they headed for the race start. The ski race teams arrived at Novo in the second week of December; starting on the eleventh they did several days of training and initial acclimatization south of the station to about 71°S. They then were flown to the starting point of the race at 86°23'S. The total length of the race was 400 km or about 250 miles, with a midway checkpoint at 200 km where the teams had to stop for a minimum of 12 hours and rest.

no dogs in this raceThe race started at about 0400 SP time on 20 December (left) (ORF), the temperature was about -13°F. The Austrian team took the lead, and arrived at the checkpoint on Christmas Eve. They celebrated by opening Christmas stockings, but they also were saddened by the fact that Alex Serdjukov had significant frostbite on both hands. After a medical examination by the race team, he was forced to withdraw from the remainder of the race. He would ride to Pole with the film crew to await the arrival of the rest of the team.

The German team arrived at the midway checkpoint about a day later, with all four members in good health ready to continue. Weather conditions were generally good for the entire period of the race, mostly sunny, although there was a period of dense cloud cover around Christmas Day. Temperatures continued to range between -5° and -20°F.

And then...at 0318 on 29 December:

skier 3 approaching from the northwest
First to finish, the Austrian team, 3 out of 4 (RS).
399.99 km down, a few feet to go
The Austrians approaching the Ceremonial Pole as spectators and media watch (RS).
3 out of 4 of the winners
The Austrian team, from left: Tom Walek, Sabrina Grillitsch, Hermann Maier...and Alex Serdjukow, who was driven to Pole to meet up with his team members (RS).

Two days later, at 0128 on the 31st...

all 4 of the Germans
...the Germans show up (RS).
the blue team
The final approach of the German team (RS).
Deutschland
Here are the Germans, from left: Joey Kelly, Markus Lanz, Claudia Beitsch and Dennis Lehnert (RS).

The race and camera crews started showing up two days before the Austrian team arrived. They set up a large camp...many of the Polies ventured over there to meet and greet the race participants, the various film crews, the race organizers and the Arctic Trucks folks. And there was a significant gathering on New Years Eve.

trailer trash?
Here's the arrival of the camera crew, in 2 6x6's and two 4x4's. (RS).
tenting tonight
Here's the race camp when things were quiet (RS).
coconut shrimp?
Some of the Austrian team and crew enjoy a quiet dinner in camp. (RS).
Happy New Year
And a couple of days later...a New Year's Eve party! (RS).
drinks on ice
The "open" bar. All of the libations were provided by the race group...Polies were not permitted to bring anything. But there was lots of cargo room in those Toyota trucks! (RS).
winners and losers
The German and Austrian teams pose at the ceremonial pole (RS).
no long term parking
The Arctic Trucks hero shot (AT).

Some of the competitors flew out on New Years Day, others rode out in the vehicles, which returned to Novo on 6 January.

The race was covered by German and Austrian television, which aired five telecasts of the race in February and March 2011. The coverage from Austrian TV network ORF (Österreichischen Rundfunk) is on YouTube in three four-part series (in German of course):

The two shots above of the race start marked ORF were grabbed from their video of the race start. Most of the Pole pictures marked RS were taken by Robert Schwarz and appear on his web site pages. The race operator Extreme World Races has rather limited online coverage, but this is their archive news site for the 2010-11 event. The folks at Arctic Trucks (AT) have some excellent coverage of their support operations, including this blog of their race activities. They also have a photo page. And, important to engineers like myself, this is the link to the brochure describing their detailed vehicle specifications...dimensions... mileage...as well as the history of expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic supported by Arctic Trucks.