A British army captain is skiing 700 miles to the South Pole solo and unsupported, becoming the first woman of color to do so.
CNN reports that Preet Chandi, 32, of Derby, England has flown to Chile and from there, she will be dropped at Antarctica's Hercules Inlet. Chandi who has adopted the nickname “Polar Preet” plans to spend about 45 days trekking across the ice to the pole on cross country skis, hauling her kit, fuel and food in a sled weighing almost 200 lbs. Along the way, she can expect temperatures as low as -58 °F and her only human contact will be daily check-ins with her support team, recorded messages from friends and audiobooks.
“I had this idea 2.5 years ago and I’m finally on my way. Before planning this, I never imagined I would be going to Antarctica and doing an expedition of this size. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is not to limit yourself. We are capable of so much, it took me a while to believe in myself but I got there eventually and I’m now feeling ready for the challenge ahead!” wrote Chandi on her blog.
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Chandi, an ultra marathon runner who has been training since 2018 in the French Alps, Greenland, Iceland's Langjökull Glacier and by dragging a heavy tire at home in England, told CNN she’s making the journey as a personal goal, but also to inspire others to challenge their own boundaries and beliefs about cultural norms in the outdoors.
"I'm told that 'you don't really look like a polar explorer,’” she said, referring to her South Asian background. "There was a time ago that I probably wouldn't have thought or realized how much representation does matter. It's probably the last few years and also going through this journey that I realized how important it really is, how there are other young girls out there called Preet, because Preet's a common Indian name, or with my middle name Kaur. They see somebody that might be from the same background, or just looks a little bit different to what they expect, and how powerful that is."
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Though other women have completed this feat, the first being Liv Arensen from Norway in 1993, Chandi will be the first woman of color to do so. Chandi, who played competitive tennis as a teenager, joined Britain's Army Reserve as a medic while studying to get onto a physiotherapy degree course. After graduating and working as a physiotherapist, she joined the regular Army in 2012 and since then has become an endurance athlete.
After completing the trek, Chandi said she plans to use half of the money raised through the Go Fund Me appeal for her polar trip to set up an "adventure grant" for women of any age or background.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.
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