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Colors bright, competition fierce in Polar Bear Tank RaceTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Pretty in Pink - the best decorated team and tank.
Courtesy Photo­Image
Total Tank - champs
Courtesy Photo­Image
The River Rats
Courtesy Photo­Image
The Rumble on the River team sported the best costumes.

MULLEN-Only 19 seconds separated the first and second place race teams Saturday at the sixth annual Polar Bear Tank Race, organizer Mitch Glidden said.

The "Total Tank" team of Dennis Whitfield, Kyle Whitfield, Tracy Whitefield and Colby Welton of Bellevue won first place, navigating their stock tank down the four-mile course on the Middle Loup River in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 46 seconds.

The River Rats -- Adrian Jensen, Tim Barkley and Trent Waltz from Chadron; Dan Avery of Hay Springs, Nick Brost of Indianola and Tony Corbin of Mullen -- placed second with a time of 1:05:05.

Third place went to the "Rumble on the River" team of racers from Mullen, Ainsworth, Maywood and Kearney with a time of 1:05:33 and fourth place went to the Brew Crew of Crete, Wilber and Dorchester with a time of 1:05:45.

The race was extremely close, with only 59 seconds between first and fourth place.

The temperature was around 40 degrees when the first tank was launched at 9 a.m. MT, with a light wind. But the weather warmed throughout the day.

There were seven other teams that just floated down the course after they launched at 1-minute intervals, Glidden said.

The Best Decorated Tank was “Pretty in Pink” by Cheryl Sheldon, Susan Bartels, Susan Proskover, Annette Henkel, Deb Moore and Christine Karell of Alliance.

It was their first time in the race.

The Best Costumed Tank Team was “Rumble On The River,” with Eric Donahue of Maywood, Jesse Jacobs of Kearney, Wade Marsh of Mullen and Trevor Glidden of Ainsworth.

Teams from Lincoln, Omaha, Bellevue, Alma, Wahoo, Central City, Milford, Seward, Henderson, Alliance, McCook and Gordon, with 4-7 members, competed.

Glidden said some individual team members came from as far away as Grays Lake (a suburb of Chicago), Maple Valley, Wash.; Glenwood Springs and Castle Rock, Colo.; Fayetteville, Ark. and Laveen, Ariz.

People from ages 21 to 70-plus competed, with all-male, all-female and couples teams.

When the tankers reached the finish at a campsite near Nebraska Highway 97, they were transported to the Consolidated Telephone building north of Mullen for a hamburger lunch provided by Nebraskaland National Bank of Mullen.

A prime-rib dinner awards banquet was held Saturday night in the Seneca Community Auditorium with Rustic Restaurant of Mullen catering and Brahmer’s of Thedford providing the cash bar.

The organizers expressed thanks to local sponsors, including Consolidated Telephone for use of their building, with breakfast hosted by Kirk and Jody Jacobs, lunch provided by Nebraskaland National Bank; the Hooker County Visitors Committee and Thomas County Visitors Committee; the Middle Loup River Ranch Guest House of Thedford and Glidden Canoe Rentals of Mullen.

More than half of the teams were returning teams from last year. Nearly 40 percent of the teams have participated all six 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.

For information about next year’s race contact Mitch Glidden 308-546-2206 or 888-278-6167, or email pglidde@neb-sandhills.net or visit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway website at www.SandhillsJourney.com

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/4/2013
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