In January 2007, and after two years of meticulous planning and training, Kevin Biggar and I reached the South Pole unaided after 52 days and over 1,100 km of freezing temperatures, torn hamstrings, lost toenails, rough ice and huge weight loss. Sounds simple right? Get to the coast, and then head south!
But Antarctica is the driest, highest, windiest and coldest continent on the planet and is littered with obstacles, so when I read about an expedition called ‘Walking with the Wounded’ (WWTW), I had to learn more.
In November, three teams from the UK, USA and Commonwealth will take on their own 335km South Pole race adventure. Each team is made up of injured service men and women with Prince Harry as a member of the UK team. Oh – and it’s all a race!
It’s organized by ‘Walking with the Wounded’, an organisation that supports those who have become wounded, injured or sick while in service, then assisting them to find a career outside the Military. The expedition’s purpose is to raise awareness, to show the public who the wounded are, to tell their stories, to highlight the support they need. The only irony is that there are people WITHOUT injuries that could do with the inspiration from these soldiers!
The Prince and the UK team have prepared via ‘artificial training’. This involved spending time in a freezer with similar conditions they will encounter during the walk. It’s also a great way of testing your kit as Kevin and I discovered.
Each team will face huge mental and physical challenges as they walk to complete the 16 day walk, but given the adversity that these people have already been through, I’m convinced they’ve got what it takes to succeed down there.
People often assume it takes a lot of bravery to walk to the South Pole, but I can’t really agree with them. I chose to go there and meet the challenges it offered, but some people face huge amounts of adversity that they haven’t expected, wanted, or had the chance to plan for. It’s these people who thrive that we need to look out for and learn from.
We wish the WWTW teams a safe trip down there. I’m sure they’ll leave Antarctica with a different view on life, the environment, teamwork, and will have done a lot for other injured soldiers around the world.See all posts