The race is being recreated by the British themselves
As the days pass and the delay grows longer, more and more expeditions are accumulating in Punta Arenas. Yesterday we had a visit from Lt Col Henry Worsley MBE and his men. Lt Col Worsley is leader of “The Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race 2011-12”. This is the only British commemoration of the Scott/Amundsen jubilee that is taking place in Antarctica. In this competition, two groups – both from the British Army – will race to the South Pole. One will follow Amundsen’s route and the other Scott’s. Three men in each group. Unsupported. Prince William is patron of the project. The teams will be transported south on the flight after ours, whenever that may be...
The British had actually hoped for a race with a comparable group from the Norwegian armed forces. But nobody in Norway took them up on the idea, so now they are competing against themselves. While Norway is deliberately toning down the racing aspect of the 100-year celebration, the British are doing the opposite.
Worsley’s Amundsen team will start from the same place as we do. But since they will be starting after us and will be pulling heavier sleds, we do not expect to see them on the ice. One cannot help but admire their pluck. Although the leaders of the two teams have skied to the South Pole before, several of the others have but a few days’ experience on skis. The only time the team has previously skied together was when they spent a week in Femund last January.
The expedition carries with it the polar medal awarded posthumously to Lawrence Oates by King George in 1912. Oates was the man who rose up and left Scott’s tent with the words: “I am just going out and may be some time.” The presence of the doomed Englishmen is almost tangible when the little box is opened and the medal uncovered.
In accordance with good British tradition, the proceeds of the expedition will be given to charity. The two teams hope to pull in £500,000 for the Royal British Legion and rehabilitation of soldiers wounded in war.
Lt Col Henry Worsley MBE:
– We are not only attempting this slow and brutal challenge in the honour of Captain Scott and Amundsen, but also as a tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces who have served and continue to serve Britain in duty and often, sacrifice.
One hundred years on, Norwegian and British expeditions continue to differ in style...