Wymondham man breaks ice and world records in South Pole expedition

Surviving temperatures of -37 degrees, snowstorms that reduce visibility to one metre and even a fall down a crevasse would be enough to put even the most adventurous off trying to reach the farthest ends of the earth.

But record breaking Wymondham man Kieron Bradley, 38, said he was ready to take on the North Pole shortly after setting new records for the fastest overland speed and fastest average time to get to the South Pole.

The chassis design engineer with Lotus at Hethel completed the 600 mile trip from Union Glacier base camp to the South Pole in one day, 15 hours and 54 minutes, smashing the previous best of two days, 21 hours and 21 minutes.

Travelling with experienced polar guide Jason De Carteret and Toronto-based copywriter Jason Thomas, who won a competition to take part, Mr Bradley completed the month-long expedition to commemorate the 100th anniversary since Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the first team to reach the South Pole.

But the father-of-three, who lives in Snowdrop Street, had to overcome freak snowstorms, vehicle breakdowns and the potentially deadly fall down a crack in the ice shelf. These can be 100ft deep but, luckily, Mr Bradley was able to support himself with his arms to prevent falling further in than chest deep.


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Using all his engineering expertise, he designed the vehicle to take the team to the South Pole, using a Toyota Tacoma, but with considerable modifications. The truck also ran on ethanol because the aim of the challenge, set and sponsored by business intelligence firm Thomson Reuters, was to reach the South Pole using eco fuels.

The vehicle's rear axle and drive shafts were developed for Antarctic conditions, while 44 inch tyres were installed on the four wheel drive vehicle and a 340 litre fuel tank added underneath, with 407 litre alloy tanks at the rear.

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The car was also fitted with GPS location equipment and a system that provided the base camp with the vehicle's location co-ordinates.

Dried food was stored in the vehicle to keep hunger away along with a tent, although the team generally slept in the Toyota, averaging approximately nine hours sleep every three days. The rear seat had been modified to enable the passenger to stretch their legs to get some rest.

The design work and training took place in Iceland, while Mr Bradley walked around Guernsey to get fit prior to the start of the expedition on November 28.

The team did an initial trial run to prepare the route and lay out sufficient ethanol stocks along the journey to the South Pole to enable refuelling to take place.

However, the trial was dogged by setbacks including vehicle breakdowns and suspension failures before the team decided to return to base camp after a severe snowstorm reduced visibility to one metre.

But the second attempt was a success after weather conditions cleared and the team were able to experience following in Amundsen's footsteps and visit the science observatory.

'It is very humbling being there. You see the whole majesty of the place. It is the place that all the explorers want to go to,' Mr Bradley said.

However, the keen explorer, who also holds the record for the longest distance travelled in a kite buggy, set in the Gobi desert in 2004, admitted it had been a tough ride. 'The bottom line is that place will find every single fault with everything. You have zero margin for error.'

He lives with wife Louise and children Callum, 15, Hannah, 13 and Millie, nine.

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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