Four-part local documentary series Cold Sweat will air on SABC3 on Sundays at 6pm, starting on 8 July. The series, by Johannesburg-based Urban Brew Studios, covers one of the toughest endurance races on the planet – the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race to the South Pole.
The South African documentary team filmed this gruelling race between sixteen competitors from six nations during the Antarctic summer in December 2011 and January 2012.
One hundred years ago, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen beat fellow explorer Robert Falcon Scott in a race to be the first man to reach the South Pole. Arriving 35 days after Amundsen, Scott and his team perished on their way back, while Amundsen returned to his native Norway a hero.
During the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race to the South Pole competitors relive this epic duel. Representing South Africa was Braam Malherbe from Cape Town and Peter van Kets form East London. Both these extreme adventurers are no strangers to extreme firsts. In 2006, adventurer, conservationist and 50/50 presenter, Braam Malherbe and running partner, David Grier, achieved a world first by running the entire length of the Great Wall of China, a distance of 4,218km, at a pace of a marathon a day for 98 days. Again in 2008 the duo completed another world first by running the entire coastline from Namibia to Mozambique, a distance of 3,278km. Not to be outdone, in 2010, East London-based extreme adventurer, Peter van Kets, became the first African to complete an unsupported row across the Atlantic ocean when he spend 76 days alone in a seven meter boat, rowing more than 4,500km. Both these men’s achievements speak of courage, passion, tenacity and the will to win, the very characteristics needed to succeed when they tackled their most recent extreme adventure in the toughest environment known to man: Antarctica.
The competitors left Cape Town on 19 December on a flight to Novo, a Russian research station on the east coast of the Antarctic continent, and, after an initial training leg, the race started 10 days later. Covering a distance of 800km to be the first to the South Pole, competitors raced unsupported, on foot and with cross country skis, hauling gear and provisions on what Van Kets describes as a “tupperware canoe’, otherwise known as a pulk which, when fully laden, weighs around 140kg. At the start the actual race was expected to take around 25 days to complete. Competitors negotiated crevasse fields, blistering blizzards, lung conditions at 3000 meters above sea level on the high plateau on the way. Add to that a sun that never sets, temperatures as low as -45 degrees, emotional challenge and isolation, and you have an event that is undoubtedly the ultimate extreme endurance challenge set in the coldest, driest, and highest desert on the planet.
Cold Sweat portrays the very personal journeys of these men and women, braving the unknown, tempting fate, and making history at the end of the world. As they follow in the footsteps of previous Antarctic explorers, they will reflect on those who made it out alive, and contemplate the stories of heroism of those who didn’t. This was undoubtedly an exercise in extreme endurance; only for the serious explorer that craves the call of the wild; who was willing to put life and limb at nature’s mercy in a quest to be the bravest and the best.
Danie Ferreira, executive producer at Urban Brew Studios, says Antarctica is the most beautiful and alluring mistress, and with your first encounter, there is no doubt that it will be love at first sight. But be aware, with no provocation whatsoever, she will change and she will break your heart. Cold Sweat will give viewers the precious opportunity to experience the extraordinary achievements of extraordinary people; to partake in both the pain and the glory; to feel the pride and the joy; and to marvel at the momentous.
The series comprises four 48-minute episodes.