What an amazing week for our very own Polar Preet (Capt Preet Chandi MBE). After breaking the world record for the furthest unsupported solo polar expedition in history she was featured on major news channels and live chat shows – which must have been an extraordinary experience so soon after returning from 70 days alone on the ice!
Preet was then feted and celebrated by nearly 200 supporters, sponsors and family at a fabulous homecoming party (serendipitously held on her birthday) hosted by her headline sponsor Cognizant and Team Forces at the magnificent County Hall which overlooks the River Thames in London. At the event Preet spoke about how difficult the conditions were during the expedition as well as giving everyone an insight into how she kept on going, even though she knew her original aim was no longer possible.
Preet said, “The expedition was the hardest trip I have ever done, it was tougher than I expected.” During the expedition Preet lost an incredible 20kg in weight to break the world record by skiing 922 miles in 70 days and 16 hours – a remarkable achievement by an inspirational humban being.
In her own words Preet described the latter part of the expedition:
“It didn’t take long after the South Pole to realise that I wouldn’ make my initial aim but I was still going to give it everything I had and I’m so glad I kept going because I know that I gave it everything. Last year I started hallucinating towards the end of the expedition because I was so sleep deprived. This helped me on phase 2 because I knew which point I didn’t want to get to. I could push forward for just over 24 hours before having to sleep and then continuing … and that’s what I did after the South Pole … my days were 20 to 24 hours long which is why my updates weren’t quite daily anymore.
The last stretch [before being picked up] was incredibly tough. There was low cloud, then a white out and lots of strastrugi and snow walls which I would have to climb, get my pulk over and then there would be more strastrugi. Not being able to see in these conditions was tough and I fell about 40 to 50 times. This was mentally a different ball game and I listened to voice notes from family and friends to keep me going. The sun finally came out when I still had a few hours to go and I saw a dark spot in the distance …. and I knew it was the plane.
I’m disappointed that I ran out of time to make the crossing of Antarctica which would have been around another 100 miles. But I also feel I did everything I could. I didn’t take a single day off in 70 days and pushed the hours every single day. I’m also proud of myself, I kept going when it was tough, when I thought I couldn’t do anymore. I wanted to continue to push my boundaries and hopefully inspire others to do the same. I wanted to show that it does not matter where you are from, what you look like or what your start line is, … you can truly achieve anything.”
“Team Forces has an amazing team who helped me with so much and brought an incredible team of sponsors alongside. A huge thank you to those sponsors … thank you so much for your support.”
Captain Preet Chandi MBE
About Polar Preet
In January 2022, British Army Medical Officer Preet Chandi, or ‘Polar Preet,’ became the first woman of colour to ski solo to the South Pole. The 34-year-old captain in the UK’s Royal Army Medical Corps took 40 days to complete the 700-mile trek. Preet joined the Territorial Army in 2007 and became a Regular army officer seven years later, she has served in Nepal, Kenya and South Sudan. In 2019 Preet completed the Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile (251 km) ultramarathon across the Sahara. Preet was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 Birthday Honours. Another huge honour was that on 26 October 2022 HRH Catherine, The Princess of Wales became Preet’s expedition Patron.