Polar Preet: Army history-maker on completing Antarctic trek and what's next

A British Army officer who's become the first woman of colour to trek solo across Antarctica has said her achievements haven't truly hit home yet.

Captain Preet Chandi, known as 'Polar Preet', told Forces News how messages and about 50 voice notes from loved ones saved on her phone kept her going as she battled temperatures of -50°C during the 700-mile challenge.

The Army physio is still in Antarctica and, with no internet connection, is yet to see the huge reaction from the outside world to her completing the challenge.

The 32-year-old, whose expedition was sponsored by BFBS, has made national headlines, with the Prime Minister hailing her achievement as "extraordinary".

"I'm a little bit cut off from the outside world at the moment," Polar Preet, who on Wednesday had her first shower in 43 days, told Forces News from the Union Glacier campsite.

"Don't get me wrong – it feels great – but I haven't seen that many people.

"I think, at the moment, it doesn't really feel that outside of the normal for where I am.

"I think it'll be interesting to see when I get internet connection and I'm back in Chile. Maybe it'll hit me a bit more then."

Watch: Polar Preet's Antarctic journey in pictures.

Polar Preet completed the trek almost a week ahead of schedule, skiing from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in 40 days, seven hours and three minutes.

She narrowly missed out on the time set by Johanna Davidsson of Sweden, the fastest female to complete a solo expedition of the continent, who finished in 38 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes in 2016.

However, she is still the third-fastest woman to trek across the continent and the first person to reach the South Pole on foot in two years.

Despite making such quick progress, Polar Preet faced 60mph winds while pulling a 90kg sled and was suffering from exhaustion towards the end of the journey, as well as a persistent cough and sickness.

"It was physically hard," she said.

"There were some days that were just so, so difficult. It was so cold and so windy.

'It's not flat... I fell over a few times and I'd just think 'what, why am I here?' but then at the end of that day, I would put the tent up, I'd get my stove running, warm myself up and think to myself 'well, I've done that day now'.

"I basically took each day at a time."

Watch: A look at Polar Preet's historic steps across Antarctica. 

The captain, from Derby, serves with 3 Medical Regiment and said she wanted the expedition to "inspire people to push their boundaries".

She trained for two years for the trek and says she has ambitions to return to Antarctica for a "longer journey".

"I don't quite know where I'll start and finish yet but, yes, soon as I can get the funding and I can get time away from work, that's the next thing."

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