A Racing Expedition to the North Pole

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Interview with Adventurer Sam Eve

Name: Sam Eve
Age: 25
Occupation: marketing manager, BSES Expeditions… and polar explorer

Welcome home Sam, and congratulations! Tell us what you’ve just done…

I’ve just trekked to the North Pole! I was part of the first all-female team to complete the Scott Dunn Polar Challenge race; we finished sixth out of 16 teams.

What an incredible achievement. So, set the scene – what is the Arctic like?

Beautiful! When we arrived it was minus 30°, but the sky was clear and the weather fantastic. It got warmer as we went along, reaching minus 15°, but the weather deteriorated and we had some storms. It’s really hard on your eyes when the visibility is poor and literally everything around you is white.

The sun didn’t set once while we were there, and I quickly got used to the 24-hour sunlight. In fact it was hard, coming home to ordinary days and nights. I feel like the night-time is a waste!

How did the cold affect you?

At first we were scared of the cold and dressed much too warmly. This meant we sweated and the sweat froze – nasty! We soon learnt to dress thinly, which meant we started the day cold and warmed up nicely as we trekked.

You prepared very thoroughly for the expedition, but were there any hardships which you didn’t anticipate?

The lack of sleep was the hardest thing for me. In the last 48 hours of the race we covered 100km on no sleep. We knew there were two teams not far ahead of us and we had to overtake them… and we did! But the lack of sleep was a killer – I was literally falling asleep as I walked.

Race to the North Pole

How well did you get on as a team?

Extremely well. Other teams commented on how well we worked together. Of course we had a few arguments, mainly about things like one person being slow getting up in the morning, but nothing major. We knew each other very well, which meant we knew how to handle each other when one of us was having a bad day. The fact that we were an all-women team was an advantage in this respect, I think.

You were worried about polar bears – did you see any?

We saw one, on Polar Bear Path, half-way across Bathurst Island. It was just a black blob on the horizon but that was close enough for me!

What was the lowest point of the race for you?

I honestly don’t think I had a low point. The last 24 hours were very hard – I’ve never been so tired in my life. If a polar bear had come up behind me at that point I don’t think I’d have cared. But all-in-all it was an amazingly positive experience.

So all your training paid off? You were fit enough?

Yes – in fact we were surprised by our physical fitness. I won’t miss those tyres though – I’ve thrown mine away!

So how did the other teams react when the Pink Lady Polecats crossed the line in such a fantastic position?

They were shocked and delighted. The looks on the faces of the guys who beat us when they saw us approaching the finish line in sixth place were priceless. They all lined up to greet us with hugs – it was a fantastic moment.

So what was the first thing you did when you got home?

I went out to lunch and ate proper food for the first time in two weeks! I’ve been enjoying the warm weather – wearing flip-flops and skirts, putting on make-up and feeling feminine again!

And how does it feel to be back, with the race behind you?

I’m sad that it’s over so soon, and looking forward to a similar challenge in the future. But my overriding feeling is one of relief. We did it!

You certainly did. Congratulations to all the team!

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