12 January 2012
The Norwegian team Framdrift wins the first leg of the Scott – Amundsen Centenary Race to the South Pole
Team Framdrift Norway won the first leg of the historic Scott – Amundsen Centenary Race to the South Pole. Eight days five hours and twenty nine minutes after the hooter sounded for the start of the race on 4 January 2012.
The flying Norwegian team consisting of Harvard Svindal, Erland Gray and Mathias Seim crossed the line at the halfway mark, exactly at 14h34 GMT. Their remarkable performance puts them approximately two days ahead of the rest of the field.
According to race officials here, the real test for the athletes will come during the last leg to the pole and if the Norwegians are able to maintain their pace they will be the clear favourites to win the race.
Only stopping to drink water and make food, the gutsy Norwegians skiers had not slept for 48 hours before reaching the half way check point. They were slowed down considerably when Harvard Svidal developed snow blindness. He had to be lead on a rope by one of this teammates, Mathias Seim, who crossed the line first with Harvard on his heels and Erland behind him.
Speaking to race officials after their marathon shift, all three members were very upbeat about their position and physical condition, despite the setback to Harvard. Mathias Seim complained about a painful knee but was hopeful that he will recover after some rest. A medical official at the checkpoint was confident that Harvard’s condition will improve sufficiently before the start of the next leg and that all three would be able to complete the race.
According to race rules they are now obliged to take a compulsory 24-hour stop. The time will be used to rest and to restock their food supplies.
There is still fierce competition in the midfield immediately behind the race leaders and it is not yet a foregone conclusion of who will end in second, third and fourth position. At the time of their daily schedule call last night the Welsh team was in second position, 130 km from the halfway line. Third was Team British Blue/Centre Point at 141 km from the halfway mark. The South African team of Braam Malherbe and Peter van Kets was in fourth position at 150 km from the line.
Race observers are unanimous that the South Africans are putting in a great performance by keeping up with the other midfielders. Their performance becomes even more remarkable when considered that they are absolute strangers to snow environments and that both team members are struggling with respiratory problems.
Although it was initially reported that Yoyo Schepers-Menten decided to withdraw from the race, the good news is that she has decided to continue to the South Pole with her teammate, Matt Elliot in Team Anglo Dutch.
In a straight line the South Pole is still 335 kilometres away. If the Norwegian team is able to maintain their pace they should be able to cover the last leg to the South Pole in seven or eight days giving them a total of 16 days, which must be considered to be a new record for the race.
Contestants can be followed on www.coldsweat.tv.