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Last Updated:  Saturday, 8 March, 2003, 12:21 GMT
Trekkers launch race for the pole
Norman Butler trains for his trek to the North Pole
Norman Butler has already rowed the Atlantic single-handedly
Amateur adventurers will walk and ski 400 miles in -40 degree temparatures to the North Pole in what is being dubbed 'the world's toughest race'.

The Polar Race 2003 will see 12 people from all walks of life battle to reach the Magnetic North Pole.

Organised by explorer David Hempleman-Adams, of Box, Wiltshire, the race - the first of its kind to the North Pole - was officially launched on Friday.

Ex-jockey Richard Dunwoody, former Pans People dancer Babs Powell, and local explorer, Norman Butler, from Swindon, are among those taking part.

Sub-zero gym

They have already gone to incredible lengths to train for the event.

Some have pulled tyres and even a plane around an airfield to get used to dragging 70kg sledges full of equipment and supplies.

And others set up a sub-zero gym in a supermarket freezer to get used to the extreme temparatureas they will face on the trek.

The four teams are due to set off from Resolute Bay in Canada on April 9.

They will face a host of dangers, including polar bears, open water and temparatures as low as -40 degrees on the journey, which is expected to take 30 to 40 days.

Polar bears

The race winner will be presented with the Wedgewood Blue Ice Trophy.

Norman Butler from Swindon is already a seasoned adventurer, having rowed the Atlantic Ocean single-handed, but he says the trek will present a number of new challenges.

"I think the first big one will be losing sight of land," he said. "And then there is not being fazed by the thought or sight of polar bears.

"Even if you don't see one, the thought of them can be enough to put the frights up you.

"But the biggest will be making sure we are working as a team, making it happen, not only to look after each others' lives, but to win the race."

Fireman starts epic polar trek
03 Mar 03 |  England
Life in the freezer
20 Nov 02 |  England

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