First American Team Ready For Polar Challenge 2009


Next April, the 5th annual Polar Challenge will get underway, pitting teams of three from around the world against one another in a race to the Magnetic North Pole. Over the course of the competition, the teams will cover 320 nautical miles (368 miles), stopping at two checkpoints along the way, to resupply as they test their endurance and determination.

The 2009 race commemorates the 100th anniversary of Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson reaching the North Pole for the first time. To celebrate, Wired Magazine put together the first ever American team to compete in the race. To begin the selection process, they invited their readers to send in applications for consideration to be on the team. Hundreds of readers responded and eventually the field was narrowed down to just 36 finalists. In October, those finalists were invited to Colorado for a “selection day” where they were all put through their paces, including both physical and mental challenges.

In the end, three members were picked for the team, along with two alternates. Team Wired consists of Zach Violet of Bend, Oregon; Ellen Piangerelli of Providence, Rhode Island and Dell Weingarten of Las Vegas, Nevada as the active team members.
Debbie Halbert and Marcus Leibrecht are the two alternates. You can learn more about the team by clicking here. If you’re attending the Yellowstone Ski Festival, running from November 25 to November 28, you can meet the team, as they’ll be in attendance at the event.

The Polar Challenge has always been a great event, with some good teams and strong competitors from Europe in particular. For this 100th anniversary, it’s nice to see an American team in the mix, and it should be fun to follow along next year when the race gets underway. One word of advice to the competitors. Remember, you don’t have to outrun the polar bears, you just have to out run your teammates. 😉

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