A British Sikh Army soldier and physical therapist just broke the previous record for the longest female arctic solo, unsupported, and unassisted.
Captain Harpreet Chandi, also known as Polar Preet, traversed 1,397 kilometres of Antarctica in minus 50-degree cold to become the first woman of Indian descent to break the record for the longest solo unassisted walk to the South Pole. Anja Blacha established the previous benchmark in 2020 with a distance of 1,381 kilometres.
Chandi posted to her blog on Thursday avout her most recent polar journey. She wrote, "It was very cold and windy but I kept my breaks very short so I didn't get too cold. I didn't let myself stop earlier though because I wanted to get the miles in.”
Being the first woman to cross Antarctica alone and unaided was Chandi's original goal, but she is sad that she did not have enough to achieve it. "I'm pretty gutted that I don't have the time to complete the crossing. I know that I have done a huge journey, it's just difficult while I'm on the ice and I know it's not that far away," she wrote.
How Did Chandi’s Journey Begin?
Chandi made the decision to cross Antarctica about three years ago when she started learning about the region. However, she delayed submitting her application to Antarctic Logistics and Trips (ALE), which manages the authorizations for such expeditions, in order to get some experience.
After completing Phase 1 with her South Pole expedition in 2021, she began working on her new objective. Her application was finished early last year.
Since November 2022, the 33-year-old Derby native who works at a local rehabilitation facility in Buckinghamshire has been trudging through subfreezing conditions while pushing a sledge loaded with all of her gear on a new journey.
The trekker received an honorary degree from the University of Derbyshire, which praised her for breaking the "record for the longest solo, unsupported, and unassisted polar expedition by any woman in history."
She has participated in marathons and ultramarathons as an "endurance athlete" and has served as a British Army officer in large-scale operations and deployments in Nepal, Kenya, and South Sudan for the United Nations.
Motivating Herself Using Childhood Memories
She has been listening to voice notes on her most recent expedition to keep herself motivated.
"I listened to childhood memories from my brothers, my mum telling me how excited she was about having a baby girl and how the midwife commented that she had never seen an Asian woman so excited about having a girl. And finally hearing my niece say it's the most amazing thing she has seen anyone do in her entire life and it's even more amazing because it's her phuwa (auntie) doing it. It's so precious to hear," she wrote in her most recent blog, The Indian Express reported.
Chandi has always been eager to test the limits of the human body and sees her journeys as a part of a larger goal.
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