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James Cracknell's Team QinetiQ is set for the race to the South Pole

22nd December 2008

James Cracknell, Ben Fogle and Dr Ed Coats have arrived in Antarctica ahead of the gruelling race to the South Pole. James, 36, Ben, 35, and 28-year-old Ed - who beat 650 applicants for his place on the trip, will spend the next fortnight acclimatising to the harsh weather and terrain.

The trio will endure minus 50C (minus 58F) temperatures during the 420-mile contest, the first race to the South Pole since Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott's attempt nearly 100 years ago.

The race, which kicks off on January 1, will see 10 teams from across the world race across the world's most inhospitable continent to the Geographic South Pole. The teams of three will ski, pulling 200lb (90.7kg) sleds, following the same route as Amundsen and Scott before them.

For Team QinetiQ, as the three are collectively known, the race is not only to reach the South Pole, but to help save the lives of babies who have suffered a lack of oxygen during birth. James, Ben and Ed are undertaking the challenge in aid of Sparks, to fund research that will change and save thousands of tiny lives.

James Cracknell, who is a long standing Sparks Ambassador, along with Ben Fogle and Ed Coats, chose Sparks as the charity partner for the epic race following a family tradegy in which James' niece sadly died as a result of oxygen deprivation at birth.

The charity is at the forefront of baby cooling technology which has boosted the survivial chances of infants who suffer oxygen deprivation during delivery, and the ongoing research has also reduced the number of babies who suffer brain damage as a consequence of their birth trauma. The money raised by this enormous challenge will help fund research in to whether the addition of minute doses of Xenon gas can save even more lives.

The team will begin the race on 1st January, with a medical check at the half way point, they expect to reach the pole in 30 days. We wish them the very best of luck.

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