Preet Chandi beams as she is warmly greeted by Princess of Wales
No wonder Kate says she’s incredible! Army Captain ‘Polar Preet’ who set new record for longest unaided solo expedition to Antarctica pulled a 19st sledge in -30C and is now a physio working with injured soldiers
- Preet Chandi broke the record for solo unsupported expedition in Antarctica
- The Army officer, from Derby, covered 1,485km – in 70 days and 16 hours
- READ MORE: Princess of Wales tries her hand at tyre pulling
Preet Chandi battled exhaustion and temperatures as low as -30C to make the furthest unsupported solo polar ski expedition in history.
The Army officer, 34, from Derby, covered 922 miles – 1,485km – in 70 days and 16 hours, breaking the record for the longest solo unsupported and unassisted expedition in Antarctica.
Dubbed ‘Polar Preet’, she fell short of completing her target of going coast to coast, around 100 miles from where she was picked up.
She celebrated her world record today alongside Princess of Wales, who was patron of her expedition, in her hometown of Derby.
The pair visited Landau Forte College- which kicks off the Army officer’s UK-wide tour of schools, during which she will share her story with the next generation.
Preet Chandi battled exhaustion and temperatures as low as -30C to make the furthest unsupported solo polar ski expedition in history
During today’s outing, Capt Chandi made a speech to students about her expedition and was joined by Kate in presenting an award to Simrat Soggi, one of the winners of the officer’s national school logo competition.
Capt Chandi completed the challenge while on a period of leave from her Army role, having joined the Army Reserves at the age of 19 and the regular Army at 27.
She is now based in Buckinghamshire, working as a physiotherapist at a regional rehabilitation unit, helping injured soldiers with training and rehabilitation.
A GoFundMe page has raised more than £11,000, half of which will go to an ‘adventure grant’ for women carrying out ‘unique challenges’, while the other half will go towards Capt Chandi’s next expedition.
She said: ‘Mentally, it was tough knowing I didn’t have enough time to make the crossing, but the expedition was about pushing my boundaries and inspiring others to do the same, so how could I not continue?
‘I’m disappointed I ran out of time to make the crossing of Antarctica, but I did everything I could. I didn’t take a day off and pushed as hard as possible every day.
‘I’m proud that I kept going when it was tough and I thought I couldn’t do any more.’
During today’s outing, Capt Chandi, dubbed ‘Polar Preet’, made a speech to students about her expedition and was joined by the Princess of Wales in presenting an award to Simrat Soggi, one of the winners of the officer’s national school logo competition
Over 10 years ago, she completed her Access Course at Derby University to become a physiotherapist
Capt Chandi skied for between 13 and 15 hours per day with as little as five hours’ sleep at times.
During the trek she pulled all her kit and supplies on a sledge, which weighed around 19st (120kg), while battling temperatures as low as minus 30C and wind speeds of up to 60mph.
Steve Jones, expedition manager for Antarctic Logistics Expeditions (Ale), said: ‘Preet’s aim of skiing more than 1,700km across Antarctica alone and without resupply is one of the most physically demanding challenges on Earth.
‘Although she ran out of time after almost 71 hard days and did not complete the last leg of the planned route down the Reedy Glacier to the Ross Ice Shelf, she has skied further unsupported and alone than anyone in history.
‘Her indomitable courage and determination are quite remarkable – she has pushed the boundaries of human endeavour.’
Preet is very close to her family especially her beloved mother who she gushed about in an Instagram post
She has two older brothers and was raised by her grandfather Baba Ji (pictured) who moved to England when she was born
She received her Honorary Masters from Derby University and addressed the Graduates of 2022 during the ceremony however she admitted in an Instagram post that she ‘never felt very academic’ (pictured with her brothers)
She took to Instagram to admit graduating in 2012 as a physiotherapist was one of her greatest achievements
Last year, she became the first woman of colour to embark on a solo expedition on the continent when she completed a 700-mile (1,127km) ski to the South Pole in January.
In that challenge she finished the trek in 40 days, seven hours and three minutes, becoming the third-fastest female to complete the feat.
Her daily training routine included cardio and strength training, as well as dragging tyres to replicate the weight of her sledge.
When she completed her 700-mile journey to the South Pole earlier this year, Preet said it felt ‘surreal’.
For that feat, she had dragged a 190lb sled for 45 days alone en route to tackling her epic challenge that saw her complete a 700-mile trek in just 40 days.
Last year, she became the first woman of colour to embark on a solo expedition on the continent when she completed a 700-mile (1,127km) ski to the South Pole in January
Captain Chandi covered in a thick sheet of ice during her solo polar ski expedition world record in Antarctica
The London-based servicewoman, who serves in a Medical Regiment in the north-west of England, began her epic trek on November 24, 2021 after flying to the ice cap from Chile in South America.
She sent out daily blog posts and pictures, revealing how she skied for around 11 hours each day – and having to ‘laugh it off’ each time she falls over due to the icy conditions.
Using live-tracking data to keep friends, family and followers updated on her route, Preet completed her extraordinary quest on January 3.
After completing her journey, she shared an inspirational message: ‘I knew nothing about the polar world three years ago and it feels so surreal to finally be here.
‘It was tough getting here and I want to thank everybody for their support.
This expedition was always about so much more than me. I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and to believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labelled a rebel.
‘I have been told no on many occasions and told to “just do the normal thing”, but we create our own normal. You are capable of anything you want.
‘No-matter where you are from or where your start line is, everybody starts somewhere. I don’t want to just break the glass ceiling, I want to smash it into a million pieces.’
Capt Preet getting ready to make history for a second time after breaking another record in her second solo expedition to Antarctica
Last year the 33-year-old became the first woman of colour to solo explore Antarctica (pictured in 2022)
The British-born Indian Sikh said she hopes to inspire other Asian women with her historic feat.
She revealed she had eggs thrown at her when she was a teenager because she ‘looked different’.
In one blog post she wrote: ‘It took me a long time to be proud of the colour of my skin. I used to be embarrassed, having eggs thrown at me and people spit at me when I was a teenager because I “looked different” certainly didn’t help.
‘It took me a while to appreciate my culture and my roots, so when I describe myself as a “woman of colour” it is because I am finally proud of my skin colour, my roots, my culture.
‘This term isn’t used to offend anyone. It is part of me and doing this expedition as a woman of colour is incredibly powerful. Having been told on many occasions that I don’t look like a polar explorer… lets change the image you expect to see.’
She told the Army before setting off: ‘When I decided I wanted to go to Antarctica, I didn’t know I would be the first woman of colour to do a solo expedition on the continent and people have said to me, “You don’t look like a polar explorer”.
But sport and competition has always been in her blood, leaving home at 14 to play tennis at an academy, before joining the Novak Djokovic Academy in Czech Republic just two years later.
She is also an ultramarathon runner and has completed some of the world’s most gruelling challenges, including the 156-mile Marathon des Sables across the Sahara desert last year.
The Princess of Wales (left) greets Captain Preet Chandi during a visit to Landau Forte College, in Derby
Preet explained her mum always told her that she wanted her to have opportunities that she didn’t have
She received her Honorary Masters from Derby University and addressed the Graduates of 2022 during the ceremony however she admitted in an Instagram post that she ‘never felt very academic.’
She wrote: ‘Over 10 years ago, I completed my Access Course at Derby Univeristy. I did not come out of school with many GCSEs or have A-levels, I never felt very academic.
‘I always remember being told that I wouldn’t be able to get onto my Degree course but I went on to become the first person in my family to get a Degree.
‘Graduating from University as a physiotherapist in 2012 remains one of my greatest achievements.
‘It is hard to do something when you’ve been told you can’t, it is hard to believe in yourself. BUT we can do it.
‘My future and your future is yet to be written and we can achieve anything we want with that future. We can achieve anything we want with the right mindset.
I didn’t get a chance to go to my Graduation ceremony in January for completing my Masters as I was still in Antarctica. Being able to go now in my home town was so special.’
Preet is very close to her family especially her beloved mother who she gushed about in an Instagram post.
She wrote: ‘My mum always told me that she wanted me to have opportunities that she didn’t have.
‘She had an arranged marriage by 17. She got divorced aged 35 when there was still a lot of stigma around divorce in our culture.
‘So many people stood against her but she remained brave and I’m so glad she did. Thank you for showing me that we don’t have to listen to others.
‘That we shouldn’t live our lives based on what other people might say. Thank you for teaching me to break barriers.
‘You’ve always told me you wished that you could’ve given me more. I hope you know how much you have given me. Love you mum.’
She has two older brothers and was raised by her grandfather Baba Ji who moved to England when she was born.
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