On April 9th, 2009, I faced an extraordinary challenge—the Polar Race.
At 61, with 28 years of sobriety shaping my resolve, I stood alongside my teammate, 34-year-old James Trotman.
This wasn’t merely a competition; it was an unparalleled test of survival in one of the planet’s most stunning yet unforgiving landscapes.
Race to the North Pole
Our epic journey began at Resolute Bay, Nunavut, precisely located at coordinates 74°43’N and 94°53’W. Our mission? To conquer the formidable 648 kilometers (403 miles) that lay ahead and reach the elusive North Magnetic Pole.
To accomplish this extraordinary feat, we had to summon every ounce of physical and mental strength we possessed. Pulling all our supplies and equipment on sleds (pulks), we walked and skied across the unforgiving terrain.
Pushing Limits in the Arctic
As I gazed out at the vast expanse of this desolate wilderness; getting lost in the Arctic’s polar area of 14.5 million sq. km/5.5 million sq. miles is not a clever option!
I couldn’t help but wonder what challenges lay ahead. The Polar Race was a true test of our mettle, pushing us to the limits of human endurance, both physically and mentally. Yet, within this inhospitable realm, there was a unique beauty that few would ever witness. It was a race not just against other teams but against nature itself, and we were determined to emerge victorious.
Environmental hazards in the Cold
A harsh reminder came to me during a particularly vicious storm, with wind speeds of 60 mph and a temperature drop to -49 ˚C or -56.2 ˚F with the wind chill factor causing the temperature to drop to -80 ˚C or -117 ˚F.
My ambition was achieved at 8.47 pm. on 29th April 2009 on reaching the Magnetic North Pole at 78° 35’ N and 104° 11’ W.
Roger Davies Polar Race Interview with ITV News
Extreme Environment Race
The Arctic is never boring; quietly it emits a raw power. It’s still hard for me to grasp that I trekked across the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole, on constantly shifting pieces of sea ice, covered with ice rubble of fanciful shapes in a range of impossible sizes.
I recall comparing the frozen seascape to a field of giant, rough-cut diamonds scattered by an unseen hand. The desolate landscape has a stark savage beauty that exceeds the expectations of all who witness it. Out there I am just a speck on the most desolate terrain on the planet.
My Personal Equipment List
Sled or better known on the ice as a Pulk (in which we each hauled up to 100Kilos)
Harness, Trace and 2 x Karabiners
Cross Country Skis (Fisher crowns)
Bindings , spare heel bindings
Ski Poles (also used as tent pegs)
Garmin, GPS (Global Positioning System); plus spare batteries
Gypsi PLB – Personal Locator Beacon (EPIRB)
Goose Down Sleeping Bag (comfort rate of -40c; it uses your own body heat very efficiently)
Fleece Liner (vapour barrier)
Liner socks 4 pairs, heavy Thermal socks 2 pairs . Tent boots
Thermal u/w top & pants (Merino wool)
Power Stretch top & pants
V/R Trail pants
Liner gloves x 2, Baltoro Ice gauntlet x 2, Down Mitts
Neck gaiter, Face mask, Thermal Ice Cap
A good Balaclava or a nose shield (solar) is essential.
Snow Goggles and Sun Glasses; they provide protection from glare of the sun and refection of the snow that can cause snow blindness; also a safeguard from the intense cold winds.
I want to tell you more about this extraordinary journey, ‘Adventure Racing in Polar Regions’ and the challenges that lie ahead. www.livealifetodiefor.co.uk/polar-race-2009/
As I grow older, I have no intention of slowing down and being a typical retiree!