(March 1-2, 2014) Mullen, NE The 7th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race was held in frigid temperatures on Saturday, March 1st with only 34 seconds between 1st and 3rd place in the Men's Division. The Repeaters won 1st place in the men's division with a winning time of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 56 seconds. Second place went to the Tank Scalawags with a time of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 8 seconds and third place went to the River Rats with a time of 1:10:30. In the Women's Division, the team of the Beavers finished in a time of 1:20:31. Coming in second was the local team of The Harlan Rustic Hookers with a finishing in a time of 1:22:42.
With temperatures hovering around 0 degrees, a light wind, and periods of heavy snow, the conditions at race time definitely made for a brisk morning when the first tank was launched. Teams competed in a rally race aboard a stock tank for approximately four miles. The remaining racing teams entered at two minute intervals, and then the "floater" teams at one minute intervals. Four, five, six and seven person teams were made up of people from communities across Nebraska as well as Colorado, Chicago and Arkansas. There were a variety of age participants from 21 - 70+, with all male, all female teams, and couples teams.
When the tankers reached the "Finish Line" at a campsite near Hwy 97, they were transported to the Consolidated Telephone building north of Mullen for a lunch provided by the Nebraskaland National Bank. A prime-rib dinner awards banquet was held at the Seneca Community Auditorium with the Rustic Restaurant of Mullen catering the meal and providing the cash bar.
The Friday night soup cook-off featured a nice variety of soups for the teams to taste test. Winner of the "Best Soup" was Tailgate Chili made by Twila Phillips and winner of the "Best Decorated Table" was the Hawaiian themed table by the Two Sisters Plus One - Jeanne Davis, Carolynn Henderson and Ashlyn Evans.
The organizers appreciate the help of the local sponsors, Consolidated Telephone for use of their building for breakfast and lunch, with breakfast for the racers hosted by Kirk & Jody Jacobs, lunch provided by Nebraskaland National Bank, Mullen; Hooker County Visitors Committee and Thomas County Visitors Committee, Middle Loup River Ranch Guest House of Thedford, and Glidden Canoe Rentals of Mullen.
More than half of the participants were from returning teams and many said they'd return again next year. Several of the team members have participated all seven years. The event is held each year to promote the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, Nebraska Highway 2 between Grand Island and Alliance, and its communities thus bringing economic development to the area. It is also held as a benefit to add to the Byways marketing efforts throughout the year.
For information about next years race contact Mitch Glidden 308-546-2206 or 888-278-6167 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway website at www.SandhillsJourney.com.