Russians for 100 day Arctic race

Twelve brave Russians are starting, mid-March, for an arctic race flying the UN flag, to cover 9,000 kilometres within a hundred days. They will be the world's first to go by cross-country vehicles with low-pressure tyres.

The Arctic Expedition Centre arranged the endeavour with Wildlife Foundation assistance, says Arthur Chilingarov, Russian Polar Travellers' Association president, Vice-Speaker of the State Duma, the Russian parliament's lower house, and honoured expedition chief.

He offered the race itinerary and other details to a news conference today. All steeled arctic travellers, the crew is taking start in Salekhard of the Yamal-Nentsi autonomous area, federal district Urals. The venture finishes in Resolute Bay, Canada, more than three months later. The twelve will cross the Ob inlet to go on along the Yamal peninsula east coast, on eastward along Taimyr peninsula, and to the North Pole across the Severnaya Zemlya isles. From the pole, they will turn to Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland, to reach Alert Bay village in Canada's Arctic Archipelago, and travel on to Resolute Bay township via Ward Hunt island. The crew will make 3,000 kilometres-a third of the entire route-across drifting ice.

The start has been put off to threaten a trying finish, complains Vladimir Chukov, crew head. The men will begin the journey in a 30 degree centigrade frost to reach Canada in spring, with an average temperature of five plus, so they will have to take motorboats with them.

The unique expedition will make many research tests, says Arthur Chilingarov.

A medical crew will observe the travellers on an unprecedented arrangement, with long-distance health monitoring as each racer will have special indicators on him, says army doctor Evgeni Zhilyaev, project medical supervisor.

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