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2nd Annual Polar Bear Tank Race a huge success


The 2nd Annual Polar Bear Tank Race held on the Middle Loup River north of Mullen is in the books.

March 7 was a very chilly, frosty day for the 17 Polar Bear Tank Race consisting of three, four, five and six person teams. Eight teams were new and nine were returning teams. Mitch Glidden, of Glidden Canoe Rentals started launching tank teams mid morning. The first tank team to begin the race was a team called "All Sheep Go To Heaven," a group of four guys from Lincoln, Neb.; followed by the Brew Crew a four person team from Crete, Wilber and Dorchester.

Taking first place was the Sandhills Open Road Challenge (SORC) Race Team from Arnold and Gothenburg with a time of 1 hour 3 minutes and 52 seconds. Team members were Shane Cool, Alan Dailey, Lindy Dailey and Clay Mohr from Arnold. Second place was the River Rats from Chadron and Mullen with a time of 1 hour, 5 minutes and 9 seconds. (They placed first last year with a time of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 36 seconds.) Team members returning for the second year were Adrian Jensen of Chadron and Tony Corbin of Mullen, new members were Trent Walz and Nick Brost of Chadron. Third Place was the "Cool Tanking Team" from Bellevue and Thedford; also a returning team with a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 22 seconds. Fourth Place was the "Team Science" from Omaha and Council Bluffs with a time of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 18 seconds. The last team in was the "Dogs" team from Ralston and Omaha with a time of 2 hours, 34 minutes and 10 seconds. They've tanked the river numerous times both for pleasure and racing last year, but this was their fastest time down the river. Other teams were the Vikings from Purdum, Halsey and Mullen; the Outlaws from Lincoln, Anselmo and Mullen; Lazy Arrrg' (Pirates) from Lincoln; SS Minnow from Valparaiso and Raymond; Heinz 57 from Colorado, Texas, and Ogallala, Neb.; Cool Tanking from Bellevue and Thedford; Red Bombers from Dorchester, Wilber and Waco; Maximum Thunder from Broken Bow; A&B Tankers from Dorchester; Hawaiian Punch from McCook; and the Sandhills Open Road Challenge Fun Team from Thedford and Stapleton.

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 wonderful hamburger and the fixin's lunch provided by the Nebraskaland National Bank.

A prime rib dinner award banquet was held at the Thomas County Fair Grounds near Thedford that evening, where the teams received trophies and awards. Between the race and the awards banquet Thedford received about 8 inches of snow. If that snow would have begun eight hours earlier, the race quite possibly may have ended with some different race times.

Some of the teams decorated their tanks, with the Best Decorated Tank being the Hawaiian Punch team from McCook, team members, Kirk and Becky Kilpatrick; Mike and Dianne Kugler, Janella Hager and Tom Bennett. There was a great variety in teams, all male teams, couples teams, and young people and oldsters. Our oldest racer was Jack Bruha, age 74 from Dorchester. Jack and Ann Bruha and Harold and Sharon Axline participated in the race last year. They apparently really enjoyed the first race because there were 10 other people from the Dorchester area on teams this year.

The organizers appreciate the help of the local sponsors, Security First Bank of Thedford, Consolidated Telephone, Nebraskaland National Bank of Mullen, Sandhill Oil of Thedford, Scheel's All Sports of Omaha and Glidden Canoe Rentals of Mullen, the Thomas County Visitors Committee and the Hooker County Visitors Committee who supported this fantastic winter event.

This event is held to benefit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. Proceeds from the event will help the Byway in matching grants and promoting the attractions and communities along the Byway.

For more information regarding next years event contact Mitch Glidden of Mullen at 888-278-6167 or Tom Witt of Thedford, 308-450-2268 or visit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway website at www.SandhillsJourney.com.

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