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London - A race to the South Pole in which Britain's Prince Harry is a participant was suspended for safety reasons, but the expedition will push on, the event sponsor announced late on Saturday.
The three teams will continue on as a group, at a slower pace, the Walking With the Wounded organisation said. Expedition members, who include recovering war veterans, using prosthetics, are to be driven to a checkpoint to traverse the final 112 kilometres to the pole.
“We have had a tricky couple of days. The weather remains good but the terrain is very difficult, far harder than we were anticipating and because of various factors, I have decided to suspend the race,” expedition director Ed Parker said.
“The reasons for this are entirely safety based. I am looking at the three teams. They are going really well but people are beginning to get very, very tired.”
He said the decision was made in consultation with the expedition doctor. Prince Harry, 29, fourth in line to the British throne, is a patron of the Walking With The Wounded charity.
He also took part in a five-day trek to the North Pole in 2011. His group had set out December 1 on the final push to the South Pole, after uncertainty over weather conditions for what was slated to be a 15-day, 280-kilometre trek.
The three teams had hoped to reach their destination by December 16 and are raising money for military charities from their home countries: Britain, the United States, Australia and Canada. Most of the participants have been injured in battle.
Several suffered amputated legs, while others were blinded, burned or suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hollywood actor Alexander Skarsgard, star of HBO series True Blood, is part of the US team, and English actor Dominic West, from The Wire, is with the Australian and Canadian team. Even in the Antarctic summer, temperatures are as low as -45 degrees Celsius. - Sapa-dpa