French trekker sets new South Pole speed record just two weeks after women’s record tumbled

Vincent Colliard in Antarctica, January 2024
(Image credit: Vincent Colliard / Facebook)

You wait ages for a South Pole speed record to be broken, and then two come along at once. Well, as 'at once' as you can get when you’re talking about one of the most remote and inhospitable regions on the planet.

Earlier today (technically, there is no time zone at the South Pole, so mast Antarctic explorers use New Zealand time), French trekker Vincent Colliard completed a 1,130km trek from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in 22 days, 6 hours and 8 minutes, beating the 13 year-old record set by Norwegian Christian Eide (24 days, 1 hour and 13 minutes) in 2011. 

At the time Eide’s feat was considered exceptional, but Colliard has bested his time by almost two days, pulling his sled an average of 50km a day, which is a phenomenal achievement.

Vincent Colliard in Antarctica, January 2024

Vincent Colliard in Antarctica, January 2024 (Image credit: Vincent Colliard / Facebook)

This comes just over weeks after British adventurer Harpreet ‘Preet’ Chandi broke the women’s record (set in January 2023) for the same Antarctic trek, completing the journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in 31 days, 13 hours and 19 minutes.

Both records await formal ratification by Guiness World Records, but Chandi said on the British new program Breakfast this week that she regarded it as a mere formality.

American adventurer Colin O'Brady was one of the first to congratulate Colliard, writing on Instagram: “Huge congratulations to Vincent Colliard for setting the speed record from Hercules inlet to the South Pole. It was an incredibly well done project: passion, drive, dedication and an amazing support team.”

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Vincent Colliard is one of the most accomplished living polar explorers. He grew up in the Basque region of the western Pyrenees mountains and became a professional explorer in 2014. In 2014, Vincent and Borge Ousland (who he met in 2010 when they sailed together around the North Pole in one single season) created the project Icelegacy, an ongoing series of expeditions crossing the 20 largest ice caps on the planet over the course of the next 10 to 15 years.

Their goals are to explore these melting ice fields, raise awareness, and initiate long term activism towards the conservation of these huge sources of fresh water and the ecosystems around them.