Devon

Antarctic pair set record for 'longest polar journey'

Ben Saunders at the South Pole, February 2014 Image copyright Scott Expedition
Image caption Ben Saunders said receiving a message from Prince Harry last month had "made his day"

A British adventurer and a former French rugby player claim to have set a world record for the "longest polar journey on foot in history".

Ben Saunders, 36, from Plymouth, and former Wasps player Tarka L'Herpiniere, 32, trekked 1,795 miles to complete Captain Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition.

The pair endured temperatures of -46C (-51F) on their 105-day journey.

Mr Saunders said it had brought them "close to the brink".

Captain Robert Falcon Scott led the first British team in the Terra Nova Expedition in 1912, but on the return journey their food supplies ran out and they all perished..

Mr Saunders and Mr L'Herpiniere set off from Scott's Terra Nova Hut on 25 October and reached their destination at about 01:15 GMT.

Organisers of the Scott Expedition said it was a the world record for the longest polar journey on foot in history.

Mr Saunders said the achievement was "almost impossible to comprehend".

"Completing Scott's Terra Nova expedition has been a lifelong dream and I'm overcome to be standing here at the finish."

He said the trek - hauling heavy sleds and experiencing temperatures as low as -46C (-51F) - had been a "mammoth undertaking" that had tested the bounds of their bodies and minds.

'Half rations'

"At times we found ourselves in dire straits in the intense cold, wind and altitude of the high plateau, weakened by half-rations and closer to the brink of survival than I had ever anticipated," he said.

"Both Tarka and I feel a combination of awe and profound respect for the endurance, tenacity and fortitude of Captain Scott and his team a century ago."

Writing in his blog, Mr Saunders said receiving a message from Prince Harry in January had "made their day".

When Captain Scott, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates and Edgar Evans reached the pole, they found a Norwegian flag planted by a rival team led by Roald Amundsen.

Image copyright Scott Expedition
Image caption Mr Saunders, who has also skied to the North Pole, said the Scott Expedition had brought the pair "close to the brink of survival"

Mr Saunders is one of only three people in history to have skied solo to the North Pole, becoming the youngest explorer to complete the journey at the age of 26.

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