Extreme Antarctic athletes warm up

2011-12-30 22:06

Johannesburg - Weather permitting - Tuesday will see three South Africans among 16 extreme athletes in seven teams head off in a race on foot and with sleds across freezing Antarctica to the South Pole.

The 2012 Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race commemorates the centenary of the duel by explorers Briton Robert Falcon Scott and Norwegian Ronald Amundsen to reach the world's southern tip.

The Scandinavian won on December 14 1911 when he planted the flag of his country at 90° South (the South Pole's longitude position is considered undefined and irrelevant). Scott reached the spot on January 17 1912, never to return.

Scott's homeland has entered Team Britain Blue and Team Britain Green in the epic race, organised by Extreme World Races. Amundsen's has entered Team Framdrift.

Team Mission Impossible is made up of two legendary South African adventurers: Peter Malherbe, who ran the length of the Great Wall of China covering 4 000km in about 100 days and Peter van Kets, who rowed 5 500km across the Atlantic.

The other South African, James Raaff, is in Team Tri-National along with Irishman Gavin Moran and German Frank Runge.

The Anglo-Dutch team has the race's only woman, Yoyo Schepers-Menten, and Team Britain Blue has Marc Woods whose left leg was amputated due to cancer.

The seventh team represents Wales.

The teams' first mission is to reach Tuesday's starting point, on an escarpment 704km from the South Pole.

Team Mission Impossible

According to a media release issued by Woolworths, one of Team Mission Impossible's sponsors, the team and its crew departed for the starting point from the Novo Russian Antarctic Research Base on Christmas Eve on Friday.

The temperature was minus 23°.

"This leg took the adventurers on a spectacular climb up the escarpment.

"The teams utilised the opportunity to get acclimatised to the high altitude of 3 000 metres above sea level.

"They also did ski training and emergency drills."

On Thursday night, Malherbe tweeted: "Hectic day. Serious crevasse fields so had to climb very steep slopes with 80kg behind but the beauty lifts my spirit. In awe."

Team Mission Impossible has dedicated itself to environmental causes.

"It is the reason I am here to save our planet and I strongly believe that if we all do one thing, we can collectively save our beautiful earth," the press release quoted Malherbe saying.

Team Tri-National's cause is the Keep a Child Alive campaign.

The race can be followed on www.coldsweat.tv

Read more on:    antarctica

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