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British Army's 'Polar Preet' becomes the fastest woman to the South Pole

British Army medical officer Captain Preet Chandi has set a new women’s Antarctic Speed World Record.

Preet who broke two Guinness World Records for polar exploration last year is now the fastest woman to complete a solo unsupported South Pole ski expedition.

The speed record saw Preet cover the 700 miles of ice in 31 days, 13 hours and 19 minutes (to be confirmed by Guinness World Records), beating the record previously set by Canadian Caroline Côté last January by one day, 14 hours and 34 mins.

Having set off from Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf on the 26 of November, Preet arrived at the South Pole on 28 December at 02:24 (GMT) to claim her latest world record.

“I’m tired – but so glad I made it,” said Preet from the South Pole.

“This was completely different to my last expedition when I pushed myself to my limits, A speed attempt is totally different.

“After my last expedition, I knew I could cope well on the ice which gave me the confidence to tackle this head on.”

On average, Preet was skiing for 12-13 hours a day pulling her 75kg sled behind her containing everything she needed to survive on the expedition.

She added: “It was definitely not a sprint, but I had to constantly weigh up my effort and how long I would ski for each day. Too long or too fast and I was going to burn out. Too slow or finish too early and I’d miss out on the record.

“Antarctica is an amazing place to be and it’s an absolute privilege to be here. It is not a place any person can conquer, it is a place you treat with respect and hope it allows you safe passage. I’m so glad it allowed me safe passage."

The 34-year-old once more braved extreme weather with a steely determination to achieve her goal.

“I just focused on what I could control. I couldn’t control the conditions – the blistering sun, the whiteouts, the temperatures of minus 30C, but I could control how I dealt with them. Just keep taking it one step at a time.”

Preet, from Sinfin in Derby, is on a career break (period of unpaid leave) from military service where she is a physiotherapist in Buckinghamshire providing rehabilitation for injured soldiers and officers.

She first made history by becoming the first woman of colour to complete the Antarctic journey, solo and unsupported, to the South Pole in 2021.

Returning in 2022, she broke two world records including completing the furthest solo unsupported one-way Polar ski expedition in history, covering 922 miles in 70 days and 16 hours, despite unusually harsh conditions.

Having secured her place in the record books, Preet has been showered with praise and awards including being recently named Woman of the Year at the recent Women in Defence Awards 2022.

However, Preet admits that she never thought she would be coming back to Antarctica this season, adding: “After my last expedition, I thought there is no way I am doing another expedition in the next year, but it wasn’t long before I was dreaming up the next challenge.

“This expedition is not only about only pushing myself, but also about inspiring others to challenge their boundaries, and break their barriers.

“It’s in those tough moments when you find out what you’re made of. One of my biggest motivations in those dark times on the ice, is the thought of inspiring others to face their own challenge. When I make myself accountable to a bigger purpose, how could I not continue!”

Preet has just arrived back in the UK and will no doubt be planning her next adventure before long. She said: “Honestly, it’s too soon to say what’s next – but we all know what happens when I say never again.”