“Day 40 – Finished. Preet has just made history becoming the first woman of colour to complete a solo expedition in Antarctica,” reads the blogpost of Polar Preet – Captain Harpreet Chandi.
The British Indian Army officer and physiotherapist completed her trekking challenge this week and confirmed she had made history after travelling 700 miles while pulling a pulk or sledge with all of her kit and battling temperatures of minus 50 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of around 60mph. The 32-year-old had uploaded a live tracking map of her trek and also posted regular blogs of her journey to the snow-capped region.
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Polar Preet writes: “I made it to the South Pole where it’s snowing. 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.
“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 told 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.”
As part of a Medical Regiment in the north-west of England, Chandi’s primary role is to organise and validate training for medics in the Army as Clinical Training Officer. Currently based in London, she is completing her masters degree in Sports and Exercise Medicine, part time, at Queen Mary’s University in London and had dragged around two large tyres over the past few months for her polar training as a substitute for the heavy sledge she has been dragging along in Antarctica.
“It definitely feels colder in the last degree where I’m at higher altitude. I haven’t seen anyone here in the last degree and now I’m 15 nautical miles from the South Pole. I can’t believe I’m almost there,” read her entry from a day before she met her goal.
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She also used her time in the cold to think about wedding plans for when she returns to England, having been engaged to Army reservist fiancé David Jarman before setting off on her expedition. The couple are expected to be reunited in Chile when she returns from the South Pole later this month.
She wrote: “I read somewhere that when you ask people to be your bridesmaids it’s nice to do it in a special way, so all the way from Antarctica I would love nothing more than for you to be my bridesmaids. Sonia Chandi, Rachel Tucker-Norton, Kamal Dhamrait, Tig Bridge, Hannah Sawford (or Hannah Smith now) and Collette Davey.
“I love you all and would love you to be my bridesmaids. I think at least three hen do’s are required. That’s normal right? But even if it’s not normal that’s never been anything to stop me.”