Army officer sets world record for longest solo trek by a woman

Preet Chandi (University of Derby)
Preet Chandi (University of Derby)

A British Army officer nicknamed “Polar Preet” has broken a world record for the longest solo and unsupported expedition by a woman in Antarctica.

Preet Chandi, 33 – backed by the Princess of Wales who was a patron of the challenge - has so far travelled 868 miles (1,397 km) in temperatures as low as -50C (-58F).

The previous female record was 858 miles (1,381 km) skied by Anja Blacha in 2020.

Despite breaking the record, Capt Chandi, from Derby, did not complete her original aim of becoming the first woman to cross 1,000 miles of the frozen continent solo and unsupported.

In January 2021 the officer made history when she became the first woman of colour to reach the South Pole solo and unsupported.

She finished the route in 40 days, just short of the female world record of 38 days held by Joanna Davidson of Sweden.

Capt Chandi set off from Hercules Inlet in November and hoped to reach Reedy Glacier within 75 days.

Preet Chandi (Preet Chandi/PA)
Preet Chandi (Preet Chandi/PA)

An online blog, that she has kept along the way, was last updated on Thursday. She reported being about 30 nautical miles away from her pick-up point.

Capt Chandi said: “I’m pretty gutted that I don’t have the time to complete the crossing.

“I know that I have done a huge journey, it’s just difficult while I’m on the ice and I know it’s not that far away."

She was congratulated by the University of Derby, who awarded her an honorary degree last year.

In October, Capt Chandi and Kate spoke on the phone when the royal wished her luck with the expedition.

Capt Chandi is a physiotherapist working at a Regional Rehabilitation Unit in Buckinghamshire, providing rehabilitation for injured soldiers and officers.

In her blog last night she thanked supporters, adding: “Today I listened to the little voice notes which were sent to me before I left and they are amazing.

“It’s so nice to hear the voices of those closest to me. I have voice notes from my close family as well, so from my mum, my two older brothers and my niece Simran.

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“I listened to childhood memories from my brothers, my mum telling me how excited she was about having a baby girl and how the midwife commented that she had never seen an Asian woman so excited about having a girl.

“And finally hearing my niece say its the most amazing thing she has seen anyone do in her entire life and it’s even more amazing because it’s her phuwa (auntie) doing it. It’s so precious to hear.

“I have not yet located the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy, but I still have a couple of days left.

“I love you all and can’t wait to see you all soon. That’s all for tonight.”