Here’s a few pointers on how I acheived my goal of racing to the North Pole. Becoming a Polar Explorer sounds very much like becoming super human, well it did for me when the idea first popped into my mind. But in reality, with determination and hard graft, it is a very achievable job title! Below I’ve highlighted a few words of advice that helped me and my team experience one of the most incredible environments on this planet. Good Luck.
- Do your research. There are a number of ways that you can experience the polar regions, from short to long guided trips, such as those with legendary Polar Explorer, Borge Ousland , to full blown supported/unsupported expeditions and races such as ours with Extreme World Races. Jim McNeill also offers some excellent options over at Ice Warrior.
- Have a sensible timeframe in mind. I’d say it takes a good 1-2 years to properly prepare for an event like this. It is by no means cheap to visit the polar landscapes, and unless you’ve got a lot of spare change, you’re going to need the time to help raise the money, train and prepare everything for your trip. But first things first, sign up and get a deposit down for your event, then at least you’ll have something to work towards! If you’ve given yourself enough time, then raising the money and preparing yourself shouldn’t be too painful (!).
- Start fundraising. Easy! Haha! We had a lot of corporate sponsorship, but this took a lot of hard work and determination to bring in. Be persistent and don’t be disheartened when you get rejected. You will get rejected. A lot! Ask as many people as you can, but be focussed and make sure you have a good story and unique selling point (USP). Think about why people would want to sponsor you. Crowdfunding is also a great new way to get sponsorship
- Self Promotion. Set yourself up in the world of web and social media, if you have a following for your polar challenge, you will find it easier to gain sponsorship. But it takes dedication. Web communities like Take a Challenge can help massively here as they have significant audience numbers in ready supply to get your message out. Contact your local/national press with your story and USP to further increase awareness. Don’t be afraid to do this, people are genuinely interested as you are doing something massively out of the ordinary that a lot of people simply dream about.
- Control. From our experiences, I would say it is best to be able to control as much as you can as possible, as you then you don’t have to rely on too many people other than yourself and your team mates and you can keep costs down. However, organised races do have their merits in that a lot of the background organisation (such as flights, cold weather training, kit and supplies) is done for you. But when it comes to being out on the ice, you need to be completely self-sufficient.
As I said, don’t be put off by the enormity of something like this. With enough hardwork, perserverance and determination, anyone can enjoy these extreme environments, just like we did. You’ll never regret it and you’ll go on to do more!