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Polar Preet: British army officer becomes ‘first woman of colour’ to ski to South Pole solo

A British army officer is believed to have become the first woman of colour to trek across Antarctica, reaching the South Pole in a little over 40 days.

Preet Chandi, nicknamed Polar Preet, conquered temperatures of minus 50C (minus 58F) and winds of up to 60mph (97kph) winds while pulling a 90kg (198lb) sled.

The 32-year-old from Derby nonetheless completed her 700 mile (1127km) challenge almost a week ahead of schedule, skiing from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in 40 days, seven hours and three minutes.

Captain Chandi, a physio from 3 Medical Regiment, nearly beat the record time set by Johanna Davidsson in 2016.

The Swede became the fastest female to complete a solo expedition of the continent, having taken 38 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes, the British Army said.

Ms Chandi, who is Sikh, suffered from exhaustion towards the end of the journey, along with a persistent cough and sickness.

She said on Instagram: “Hello everyone, checking in from day 40. I made it to the South Pole where it’s snowing.

“I’m feeling so many emotions right now. I knew nothing about the polar world three years ago and it feels so surreal to finally be here.

“It was tough getting here and I want to thank everybody for their support.”

She is now the third fastest woman to trek across the continent, and the first person to reach the South Pole on foot in two years.

She is hoping her achievement will inspire others, writing: “This expedition was always about so much more than me.

“I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and to believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labelled a rebel.

“I have been told ‘No’ on many occasions and to ‘just do the normal thing’, but we create our own normal. You are capable of anything you want.

“No matter where you are from or where your start line is, everybody starts somewhere. I don’t want to just break the glass ceiling; I want to smash it into a million pieces.”

Brigadier Elizabeth Faithfull-Davies CBE, Commander 102 Logistic Brigade, said: “I have been watching Polar Preet’s Antarctic endeavours with admiration and awe as I have seen her maintain incredible distances and pace every single day of her expedition.

“I am absolutely delighted to hear that she has achieved her ambition of reaching the South Pole and so proud that she has demonstrated how much we can all achieve if we set our minds to it.

“She is an inspiration to us all and she is a fabulous role model as the first woman of colour to complete this impressive feat.”

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