A British Army officer who became the first woman of color to complete a solo expedition to the South Pole has been given a hero's welcome on her return to the UK. Captain Preet Chandi was greeted by loved ones and colleagues at Heathrow after finishing the 700-mile trek across the Antarctic.
Polar Preet as she was named finished the expedition from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in just 40 days, seven hours and three minutes – a daily average distance of about 17 miles.
The Army captain, who was sponsored by BFBS for the trek, only just missed setting a new world record by a woman but is now the third-fastest female solo skier for the expedition.
Her achievement is even more remarkable considering a number of other South Pole expeditions failed this season – with Captain Chandi the first person to reach the South Pole on foot in two years.
She battled on through whiteouts, pulling a sled weighing 14 stone over deep ridges and on the hard snow in temperatures as low as -50°C.
Speaking on her arrival at Heathrow Airport, Capt Chandi said she had never had so many people meet [her] at an airport before.
I'm so happy to see my partner, friends and so many people from the military here as well, she said. It feels surreal going from being on my own to being surrounded by everyone, she added.
Speaking about the expedition, she said the reaction had been great and she hopes people are inspired by it. At some point I felt deep down it would get a reaction and it's been amazing, she said.
That wasn't the primary objective, but it will help to show people that you can do whatever you set your mind to, so I'm delighted with that.
Capt Chandi said she will enjoy the weekend off with her fiancé, who proposed just before she set off in mid-November, and her family.
But the rest and relaxation won't last long as she will be straight into training for her next challenge – to become the first woman to complete a solo unsupported coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica. (Forces news)
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