Antarctica challenge for retired insurer

A 61-YEAR-OLD retired insurance manager is crossing one of the most inhospitable lands on Earth for the first race to the South Pole since Scott's historic feat 100 years ago.

John Howard

A 61-YEAR-OLD retired insurance manager is crossing one of the most inhospitable lands on Earth for the first race to the South Pole since Scott's historic feat 100 years ago.

Peter Hammond, who now works part-time as a climbing and mountaineering instructor based at the Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in Stowmarket, is training to take part in the challenge in December.

It will see teams of three skiing 520 miles across the harsh terrain to get to the geographic South Pole in Antarctica.

This race is being hailed as the most extreme endurance race in the world and it will be the first since Scott and Amundsen's historic venture nearly a century ago ago.

The participants, who pull sledges containing all their own equipment, food and fuel, will face constant challenges throughout their journey. They will survive temperatures as low as -50C while climbing up to 9300 feet to the South Pole.

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Mr Hammond, who lives at Ufford, near Woodbridge, has more than 40 years of experience in mountaineering and skiing, has climbed in the Himalayas, the Andes and reached the top of most of the 4,000 metre peaks in the Alps.

He said: “I am 61-years-old and need to get into the best shape to complete this. This is an awesome project and a major challenge.

“We have to cross 520 miles in up to 45 days through the most hostile environments in the world and the coldest which will require a lot of mental strength.

“You are never too old to try a new challenge. You can do anything in life if you try, and nothing is impossible if you really put your mind to it.”

Anselm Gurney, general manager at the leisure centre where Mr Hammond is training, said: “Taking on this challenge at the age of 61 shows that anyone, whatever their age, can be more active, and that age is no barrier to fitness.”

Any businesses interested in providing sponsorship for his historic trip should call 01394 461145.

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