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Prince Harry’s ‘party’ team races to the South Pole

Each of the soldiers on Prince Harry’s team has lost a limb in action, and one lost both legs in Afghanistan, yet they will each haul a 75-kilogram sled.

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You wouldn't think a 335-kilometre race to the South Pole could be considered a party – unless you consider that Prince Harry's along for the ride.

For one thing, the 29-year-old royal (and serving member of the British Army) has promised to buy beer for the teams that lose the Walking With the Wounded race, which is about to get under way in Antarctica. Three teams comprised of injured servicemen and women – one team from each of the U.K., the U.S. and the Commonwealth – will race over 16 days to the South Pole.

It will be a brutally tough journey. Each of the soldiers on Prince Harry's team has lost a limb in action, and one lost both legs in Afghanistan, yet they will each haul a 75-kilogram sled. They have a serious goal: to raise money and awareness for the veterans' charity Walking With the Wounded, which helps retrain soldiers for life after the military. It will be all business once the race begins at the end of this week (weather permitting), although the British group's name will serve as a reminder of Prince Harry's party past and the comforts waiting back in civilization: They are Team Glenfiddich.

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The prankster prince – or Captain Harry Wales, as he's known in his day job as an Apache helicopter pilot – has been keeping spirits high as the three teams wait for good weather to begin the race at 87 degrees south in Antarctica. First, he joked about breaking his toe to get out of the race; then he noted that his brother, Prince William, was jealous of the expedition because "I got to get away from a screaming child."

Speaking at the launch of the race this month in London, though, Prince Harry sounded a more serious note. "This trip is another way of reminding everybody that as Afghanistan draws down and these guys aren't in the news any more, the support must continue … Arms and legs don't grow back, and the support we need to give them will continue for the rest of their lives."

Each of the three teams includes four wounded soldiers, two guides and a celebrity patron. Actor Alexander Skarsgard will accompany the U.S. team, and the Commonwealth has its own famous actor in Dominic West.

Mr. West has admitted that his training for the journey, which mainly involved yoga, was not as rigorous as the royal's – Prince Harry has been climbing glaciers and skiing with his teammates. Asked by The Telegraph newspaper who was more fit, Mr. West replied, "He's a 29-year-old serving officer and I'm a 44-year-old serving actor. Who do you think?"

One way or another, the answer will be revealed by mid-December, when one of the teams is expected to reach the South Pole.

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About the Author
Columnist and Feature Writer

Elizabeth Renzetti has worked at The Globe and Mail as a columnist, reporter, and editor of the Books and Review sections. From 2003 to 2012, she was a member of the Globe's London-based European bureau. Her Saturday column is published on page A2 of the news section, and her features appear regularly in Focus. More

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