The race has been suspended but the challenge goes on

WWTW | December 7, 2013

On Day 5 of the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge, as the teams arrived at their first Checkpoint, it became obvious that underneath the concrete determination of all the team members, the harsh reality of the Antarctic was starting to take its toll.

With the safety of all those involved at the forefront of Expedition Director, Ed Parker‘s mind, the following decision has been made going forward for the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge:

“We always knew that this wasn’t going to be easy, but that is what makes the challenge so exciting. Our aim was to show that despite injury, young men and women from our armed forces can still achieve great things.

Until now, the three teams have been racing against one another across the Antarctic plateau, but yesterday I took the decision to suspend the race.

The reason for this is entirely simple – safety, which remains the core principal of our expeditions.

While all three teams were progressing well, it was becoming evident that there was a higher degree of stress imposed on the team members, due to unprecedented terrain on the plateau.

With careful consultation from our doctor and race team, we have put the race on hold. This does not mean that the expedition is over. Far from it. We came down here, determined to get 12 men and women, all injured in conflict, to the South Pole, and so we will.

Tomorrow we start the last leg, 112 km, to the Pole, with no stress being placed on the teams, and with the new race format enabling them all to do this in their own time. Each evening, the expedition will be camping together, all able to enjoy and share each other’s experiences. By Friday or Saturday next week, I strongly believe that every member of the expedition will be standing on the South Pole, celebrating what will have been the most extraordinary shared journey.

We feel your support every step of the way, please continue to follow us and support the walk. “

– Ed Parker, Expedition Director and Co-Founder of Walking With The Wounded

The Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge team members all respect and agree with Ed Parker’s decision and now, if anything, are more determined than ever to finish what they started, moving together as one complete allied team.

Guy Disney of Team Glenfiddich commented from the ice on this tough but essential decision:

“Sadly, we had to call off the race element of the expedition.

The first four days was a full out slog. It really tested every single individual mentally and physically.

I think everyone, including myself, has managed to get a hell of a lot out of it and it will be an experience that will live with us for the rest of our lives. However, due to a few small injuries – nothing too serious – and the weather, it is really putting us behind and so the race element has been stopped, but for very good reasons.

Now, what can only be described as stage 2 […] will be getting everyone back together, all three teams and redefining our essential goal, which is to make sure we get every single person there in one piece and to do everything we can for the charity.

 We still have another 7 days of walking, which should be great fun and without the race element, it means we can really focus on what the expedition set out to achieve.

All is well, morale is good, everyone is rested, fit and ready to go. Another 7 days to push. We will probably make about 15-16km each day.

We are about 112 km from the South Pole and we all can’t wait to get there as one big group.

 There is a bigger goal here, which we all set out from the start and that is what we need to achieve.

All is well.”

– Guy Disney, Team Glenfiddich member

This is certainly not the end for the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge, but steps have been put into place to ensure that all of those involved are kept safe. The team members are determined to prove their strength and courage but this must be done without jeopardising anyone’s well being.

Going forward, the final leg of the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge will begin from the team’s second allotted checkpoint, 112 km from the South Pole. The team members will be driven to this point and over the course of the next 7 days, will move as one whole allied team to reach the South Pole together.

Walking With The Wounded undertake these inspirational expeditions, akin to the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge, to demonstrate the fortitude and bravery of wounded servicemen and women. As we ‘Support The Walk’ from the comforts of our everyday life, we cannot begin to imagine the strength it takes to partake in such a challenging feat. Not only does the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge show how extraordinary each team member is by taking part but it also hopes to inspire others who face injury, disability and daily challenges.

Walking With The Wounded finance new qualifications, education and training programmes for those who are injured, to help with career transition. This enables the blind, the burn victims, the mentally injured, the amputees and all other wounded personnel to rebuild their lives and to return to the work place.

Check out Virgin Money’s South Pole Allied Challenge hub and help them raise their £100,000 target to support Walking With The Wounded.

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31 Responses to The race has been suspended but the challenge goes on

  • Pierrette Agen - Mom says:

    Ed, thank you for having the courage to make such a difficult decision. I commend you on staying true to the real goal and spirit of this challenge. Mostly, thank you for making the health of our wounded soldiers the priority. They have already suffered and sacrificed so much it’s time for them to reap the rewards of their efforts. Enjoy the rest of the journey and celebrate reaching the South Pole, you all deserve it. Sending our love Chris, so proud of you.

  • Colin Scoles says:

    Two words, good call!

  • Asa Waterman says:

    A very difficult decision to make but safety always must come first. Reaching the South Pole will be such an amazing achievement for all involved and for such a wonderful cause. You have many followers in British Forces Germany and we are with you all the way.

  • Janet says:

    I’m thrilled by the latest news. I agree wholeheartedly that everyone is a winner and to share the experience between the three teams – all arriving safe and well is the goal.
    The comradeship and support at the end of each day can only help this be achieved.
    A good decision – well done all

  • Kathy says:

    A courageous decision indeed. After reading about the conditions everyone encountered I believe many of us would not have made it through the first day! Glad to hear everyone is healthy . Stay well and continue towards your victory . And thank you all for allowing us this amazing experience.

  • Brenda says:

    Safety must always come first. It will be a brave and memorable journey nonetheless. Right call, and lots of love for the participants .

  • thank you says:

    So much admiration for all of you! This is about the journey not a win….you are all an inspiration!

  • Christine Rees says:

    Good decision under the circumstances. It’s not about winners and losers, everyone who even attempted this feat is already a winner and by completing this challenge will prove so much to themselves and everyone following the progress.

  • Padre Jonathon says:

    Ed, great decision – well done! I commend the decision as being one which serves to affirm the camaraderie and unity which we enjoy as an International Military Family. As personnel from different nations we know the importance and privilege of living and fighting (and even praying) together in the toughest of environments – this change of plan illustrates so wonderfully the ability of our military personnel to work together, devoted to one another with our shared common interest at heart. I continue to hold you all in my prayers. What a privilege for us all to be able to follow your adventure – thank you for allowing us to ‘share’ your journey like this.
    God speed, God bless and protect you all.
    Padre Jonathon

  • Anne says:

    United we stand, never a truer word spoken. To help everyone achieve their goal safely must be a priority. Take care!

  • Martin says:

    Sitting in my armchair at home it seems that this was a really hard decision to make. I would imagine out there it was even more difficult. I hope everyone can now enjoy what is a trip and a chance of a lifetime. Get everyone back safe!!

  • Mary-Gwyn says:

    Moving together as one-a good decision. God be with all of you. You are my heroes.

  • Martin says:

    It must have been a very difficult and brave decision to abandon the race element of reaching the South Pole. I greatly admire the grit and determination of all the teams in striving to attain their goal. I hope that all members enjoy their new combined effort to reach the Pole and arrive safely.

  • Marilyn Burgess says:

    Much better to err on the side of safety. Everyone please stay safe and have the journey of a lifetime!

  • Jenny says:

    Awesome decision! Antarctica is no doubt stressful enough without trying to compete, although it would have someone as a winner, it also has someone as a loser and nobody down there should be considered a loser. I think this will be a much better experience now with everyone gathering together at night to bond over a hard days skiing. I’m still in awe of all of you for being down there and look forward to hearing of your successful arrival at the South Pole.

    Jenny from Melbourne Australia

  • keith says:

    The right decision. It takes a great deal of courage to make a decision like this. My thoughts are with the team. Keep safe.

  • Thank You for the update! I am very pleased with the turn the event has taken! It sounds like it will be an even better experience for everyone now. I am proud of You for putting everyone’s safety first. I’m sure it had more to do with fear of my wrath than anything ^^ *jk*… keep up the good work out there! You guys got this! <3

  • Linda says:

    A well made decision, you have the determination complete the journey of a lifetime, you are an inspiration to others, stay safe guys

  • Wise decision.
    Competition is not the only way to acheive excellence and working as a complete expedition team is the right way to respond to critical changes in the environment.
    Breathe, relax, smile and carry on!

  • Leslie Dyal says:

    I am proud of your decision.

  • Vivian Pylatuik says:

    A difficult decision I am sure. Keep everyone safe and have a great adventure, one that can be relived in memories of all who achieved this great feat of endurance.

  • Lisa Burnand says:

    I am relieved to hear that the safety of the team members is first and foremost. All members of each team proved their courage and strength long before this race began. I recently learned of this organization and have been following closely for the last week. I find myself wondering throughout each day how the team members are coping with the elements and how they are feeling. We owe so much to our veterans. I wanted to wish them all much success and thank each of them for all that they have given to our country. Keep up the great work!

  • Christine says:

    I have been thinking about the team members all week as I endure -45C wind chill in Edmonton, Canada. I can’t imagine being outside all day in this weather. I’m glad the promoters are thinking about the safety of the members.

  • Rob Moore says:

    as a well known quote goes…”where challenges exist there are opportunities to be had”
    Ed Parker has clearly shown his true leadership, an awesome win-win decision for all!

  • Catherine Rait says:

    Thank you again for keeping us all updated and able to feel included in this amazing challenge. The previous replies have already and more eloquently said what I would like to say but thank you for keeping them all safe while continuing to let them challenge themselves. I am very proud of you all and cannot wait to see you all reach the south pole together.

  • Naomi says:

    You are all winners. You are all amazing. Stay safe and be truly proud of yourselves.

  • Kristie Yamber says:

    thank you for the update, it is more important for all racers to finish in good health and well being so the decision made to forfeit the race aspect was warranted. I pray everyone is doing well and good luck to all of the participants. Proud of everyone who has participated.

  • Arthur & Ishbel says:

    A difficult decision and as has been said a good one, The 3 teams working to get there together will complete a momentous journey for all and in such a harsh environment it will ease the stress.Stay safe and as has been said we follow your immense courage and dedication in awe and admiration.

  • janet says:

    congratulations on the new and improved challenge , I have just watched a documentary on Shakelton and it brings home the harshness of the environment. I am sure the reams will gather strength from one another and make an amazing finish.
    this from Canada.

  • Maria and Trisha Maryland Glasgow and USA says:

    You all made the right decision. Your health and safety come first. We all want to see you get home for X-Mas safely.

    You are ALL BRILLIANT and I am very proud of what you are doing for your own goals and for others.

    God Bless you all, keep warm and safe. When you get to that finish flag enjoy a nice cold brew.

    Happy X-Mas to you all and your families

  • chris merchant says:

    Good call suspending the race, safety must come first.

    It is of little consequence anyway, because we all know every single one of them is a winner!

    Bless em all and a safe journey home to their loved ones.

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