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British Sikh 'Polar Preet' claims record for fastest solo ski across Antarctica

11-01-2024  Gday India

Having already broken two Guinness World Records for polar exploration, British Sikh Army medic Harpreet Chandi has said she now has a third one. 

By covering 1,130km of Antarctic ice in 31 days, 13 hours and 19 minutes, Chandi, also known as Polar Preet, claims she has become the fastest woman to ski solo across Antarctica. 

“I’m tired but so glad I made it. “This was completely different to my last expedition... I completely pushed myself to my limits on my last expedition, a speed attempt is completely different," the 34-year-old said, speaking from the south pole. 

“After my last expedition, I knew I could cope well on the ice which gave me the confidence to tackle this head on,” she added. 

The Guinness World Records will need to verify the claim, which can take several months, and if confirmed, it would beat the previous record holder, Canadian Caroline Cote, by a day, 14 hours and 34 minutes. 

For the trek, Chandi left the Hercules inlet on the Ronne ice shelf on November 26, and arrived at the south pole at 2.24 am UK time on December 28. 

She skied for between 12 and 13 hours a day on average and pulled a 75 kg sled that had everything she needed to survive behind her. 

“It was definitely not a sprint, but I had to constantly weigh up my effort and how long I would ski for each day. Too long or too fast and I was going to burn out. Too slow or finish too early and I’d miss out on the record," she said. 

Calling Antarctica an amazing place and glad that it allowed her a safe passage, Chandi said: "it’s an absolute privilege to be here. It is not a place any person can conquer, it is a place you treat with respect and hope it allows you safe passage". 

Chandi is on a career break from military service where she was a physiotherapist providing rehabilitation for injured soldiers and officers. 

Speaking about her journey, she said that her focus was on what she could control, not what she couldn't. 

"I couldn’t control the conditions -- the blistering sun, the whiteouts, the temperatures of minus 30C, but I can control how I dealt with them. Just keep taking it one step at a time,” Chandi, who was named Member of the British Empire (MBE) recently, said. 

Also honoured as 'woman of the year' at the Women in Defence Awards 2022, Chandi made history by becoming the first woman of colour to complete a 700-mile Antarctic journey -- solo and unsupported -- to the south pole in 2021. 

Chandi said never thought she would return to Antarctica this year but returned after realising that this expedition was just not about pushing herself, but also about inspiring others to challenge their boundaries, and break their barriers. 

“One of my biggest motivations in those dark times on the ice is the thought of inspiring others to face their own challenge," she said.  (IANS) 



11-01-2024  Gday India

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