International Teams Preparing to Race to the North Pole

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Staying on the topic of the North Pole today, a unique athletic competition is preparing to get underway in the Arctic, and it is certainly worth drawing some attention too. The 2015 Mamont Cup will begin next week with five teams of  athletes from across the globe racing one another to the top of the world. The event will cover 60 nautical miles (111 km), crossing the “last degree” to the North Pole in the process.

The five teams consist of 4-5 athletes each, and are all led by veteran polar explorers and guides. The racers come from Sweden, Italy, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the U.S. and will be led by their team captains across the frozen Arctic Ocean to the finish line located at 90ºN. Those captains include David Hemplemam-Adams who leads an All-British team, as well as French explorers François Bernard, Christian de Marliave and Jean Gabriel Leynaud. A fifth squad consisting of all women will be lead by Denmark’s Bettina Aller.

The race is scheduled to get underway on April 15 and last until April 21. Most of the competitors are expected to arrive in Longyearbyen tomorrow for a flight to the Barneo Ice Camp, where they’ll first acclimatize to the conditions, and undergo rigorous training before setting out. While covering the final degree to the Pole they’ll be traveling on skis while pulling sleds filled with their gear and supplies behind them as they go.

The Mamont Foundation, which is sponsoring this event, was established in 2007 to help fund exploration to our planet’s polar regions. The goal is to learn more about the Earth by advancing our understanding of both the Arctic and Antarctic. Projects include the study of animal migrations in these areas of the world, as well as the impact of climate change on these bellwether places.

Hopefully the competitors in the race will be able to catch their flights out to Barneo as expected. With delays due to weather, there have been no aircraft departing for the Ice Camp from Longyearbyen for the past few days. They have a bit of cushion in their schedule before they start their dash to the North Pole, but things haven’t been going entirely smoothly in the Arctic so far this year.

Kraig Becker