The XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi/Russia were opened on February 7, 2014. It was on this very day one year earlier, on February 7, 2013, that the “Amarok Polar Expedition” began, taking the olympic spirit to the distant eastern territories of Russia. Just under 70 days later, on April 8, 2013, an international team including Rainer Zietlow reached its destination, the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on the peninsula of Kamchatka – a new Guinness World Record.
The 16,000-kilometer route, which was completed by a team in motor vehicles, is the longest distance ever traveled in Russia in one direction. The tour lead through the least explored regions in the vast expanses of Russia. The nine-man expedition team – 8 Russians and the German Rainer Zietlow – crossed the Arctic Circle several times in three converted Volkswagen Amaroks, repeatedly encountering rough terrain.
The expedition leader Alexey Semakin and his deputy Rainer Zietlow had allowed for ten weeks for the route from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy via Yakutsk, Pevek, Anadyr. In doing so the “Amarok Polar Expedition” was the first venture ever to cross the elevated plain of Koryakskoye and the Sredinnyy mountain range on Kamchatka. For the drive in deep snow and temperatures below 50 degrees Celsius the Amaroks had been equipped with special “Bigfoot tires”.
On February 7, 2013 – departure day of the “Amarok Polar Expedition” – a representative of the Winter Olympic Games presented the team with an Olympic message for the men and women they were to meet en-route. The team in their turn brought back exhibits to Sochi exemplifying the cultural diversity of the remotest corners of eastern Russia. The challenges of this extraordinary expedition for men and vehicles were covered in several documentaries by a camera team from Russian state television.