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Polar Preet claims fastest solo Antarctic skiing record

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BRITISH SIKH army officer and physiotherapist Captain Harpreet Chandi, known as Polar Preet for her Antarctic expeditions, has claimed a new world record for becoming the world’s fastest woman to complete a solo South Pole ski expedition.

The 33-year-old took to her blog on Sunday (31) to update that she had completed the solo unsupported 1,130 km expedition in just over 31 days. This will now be verified by ‘Guinness World Records’ and could then become her third world record after two record-breaking Polar feats already under her belt.

“Sooooo… I did it again… just a little faster,” writes Chandi.

“I came back to Antarctica this year but without letting the world know in advance. and completed another solo unsupported expedition from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole but with a very specific goal… This trip was a bit different for me, I honestly didn’t know if I would be quick enough but thought I’ll do everything I can and let’s see,” she said.

As part of her latest solo Antarctic expedition, Chandi set off from Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf on November 26 and arrived at the South Pole on Thursday (28). On average, she was skiing around 12 to 13 hours a day, pulling a 75kg sled, which contained everything she needed to keep going on the tough terrain.

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“My expedition was a female speed record, I completed the solo unsupported 1,130km expedition in 31 days, 13 hours and 19 minutes. I have applied for the GWR (Guinness World Record) and awaiting confirmation,” she said.

“It does not belong to me alone. It belongs to everyone that helped me get here. It is ours. I’m sure I will not hold the record for long and will happily help the person who beats it.”

As someone who is now very familiar with the continent, Chandi describes Antarctica as an “incredible place” to be.

“This is my third season in a row and I still feel as though I’m dipping my toe into an ocean… It is a place you treat with respect and hope it allows you safe passage. Thank you Antarctica for keeping me safe,” she said.

In January last year, she completed a trekking challenge to become the first Indian-origin woman to set the record of a solo unsupported trek to the South Pole, travelling 1,397 km across Antarctica in temperatures as cold as minus 50 degrees celsius. The previous record was 1,381 km, set by Anja Blacha in 2020.

However, she was disappointed that she did not have enough to meet her original aim of becoming the first woman to cross Antarctica solo and unsupported.

“This year was tough after attempting and not completing a big trip in Jan 2023. It took me a while to recover and I didn’t think I would come back out again this season. And then that little thought came into my head,” she reflects.

It was around four years ago when she was learning about Antarctica that she decided she wanted to do a crossing of the continent. However, she did not put in her application to the Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE), which handles the permissions for such expeditions, immediately because she wanted to build up some experience before setting off on her record-breaking missions.

Chandi has always been keen to push the human body to its limits and sees her adventures as part of this wider mission. As an “endurance athlete”, she has run marathons and ultra-marathons and, as a British army officer, completed large-scale exercises and deployments in Nepal, Kenya and a UN peacekeeping tour of South Sudan.

(PTI)

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