Adventurer undaunted by last place
SUFFOLK adventurer Peter Hammond tested his body and mind to the very limit when he took part in a race to the South Pole.The highly-experienced explorer and mountaineer from Ufford, near Woodbridge, was the oldest competitor in the Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole race.
SUFFOLK adventurer Peter Hammond tested his body and mind to the very limit when he took part in a race to the South Pole.
The highly-experienced explorer and mountaineer from Ufford, near Woodbridge, was the oldest competitor in the Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole race.
This was the first race to the South Pole for almost 100 years since the famous duel between Scott and Admundsen and 62-year-old Mr Hammond admits it was the ultimate test for himself.
The extreme cold with temperatures down to -5OC, the 10-hour daily slog pulling a 70kg sledge containing all equipment and food, sleeping in tents, climbing up to 9,300ft to the South Pole and the barren white landscape all seemed a million miles away as Mr Hammond recalled his gruelling trip.
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He had teamed up with 60-year-old Tess Burrows, a long-time partner in the world of adventure, and their aim was to finish the race and read out 1,300 peace messages at the South Pole including many from Saxmundham Primary School.
They knew they could not compete with the almost ruthless efficiency and competitive spirit of younger teams.
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Age was not on their side, and the race was won by a team from Norway with Mr Hammond and Ms Burrows placed last out of the six teams. Television presenter Ben Fogle and rower James Cracknell came second.
The teams raced on the Antarctic Plateau for 430 nautical miles across the largest ice cap in the world to the Geographic South Pole.
Mr Hammond, a retired insurance manager, said: “The main focus of the trip was not to win the race, but to get to the South Pole to read out the messages, and now it is mission accomplished.
“I know I pushed my body and mind to the utmost limit on this trip. This was right on the edge. This was tough. This was the most physically exhausting thing I have ever done.
“It was relentless, day after day, and definitely the toughest race in the world. We tackled it in two-hour stints, with nibble breaks every hour and I found that within an hour you would go from go mode to total exhaustion and I felt like I could not pull that sledge another step, but then you would pull through it, pick yourself up and do it all over again.
“I could see Tess in front of me, and then it was the most amazing thing to stand there and look round 360 degrees and realise you could see the curve of the earth and there was just you and your team mate and whiteness.
“When I finished there was just a big hug and relief. The emotion of it all came over me, I had spent 18 months training to get there and I had finally done it.”