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Solo, unsupported North Pole 2008


Wednesday 18 July 2007
7.00 PM to 11.00 PM

The David Lean Room, BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LN

Drinks, canapés, presentation and auction

For accreditation please contact Carrie-Anne Savage, or 020 7017 0894

Media information
09 July 2007

North Pole solo quest for British woman Hannah McKeand

Hannah McKeand, 34, from Newbury, Berkshire - who became the fastest person to trek solo and unsupported to the South Pole in December 2006 – is now planning to ski solo and unsupported to the North Pole in February 2008. If successful, she will become to first woman to ever achieve this feat that involves an arduous 415 nautical mile trek over shifting ice.

Hannah will head up to her start point at Ward Hunt Island on the northern coast of Canada and hopes to complete the epic journey in 60 days. “Although the distance is shorter than the South Pole route the expedition is much tougher. The terrain is extremely rough and the ice drifts away from the Pole, so it is rather like being on a conveyor belt and your legs cover a lot more distance than you are moving forward.”

Only one person has ever successfully made the solo and unsupported journey from Canada to the North Pole. In May 2003 British explorer Pen Hadow, after three attempts, finally cracked the route that many polar experts were starting to think impossible. Since then several noble attempts have been made to repeat his remarkable journey, but so far none have succeeded.

Hannah McKeand is undaunted by the challenge. “I have huge respect for the environment that I will be immersed in. There are many risks to be assessed and managed and a lot of elements that are simply beyond one’s control. But I think with proper planning and preparation I have a good chance of success. I’ve just spent several weeks training on the Arctic Ocean and I feel very motivated to get cracking, it’s a fantastic place.”

The towering ice maiden is uniquely placed in her sport, as she is one of the most experienced long distance skiers in the world. She attributes much of her success to her physical make up. “I am very tall, 6’2”, and well built, with enormous natural strength. I am able to gain significant weight before an expedition while at the same time reaching the necessary levels of fitness. This gives me a tremendous advantage in the polar environment. I am well insulated and able to travel on fewer calories than other lighter skiers. In addition to my physical make up, I have developed a solid mental approach to these expeditions. You have to be very driven, but at the same time, calm and methodical. I love it! I never feel more alive than I do alone in a huge icy wilderness.”

Up until now Hannah McKeand has always self-funded her expeditions, but this time she has decided to look for a sponsor to work with. “It just seems like the right time. On the back of my new world record I really have something tangible to offer a sponsor. With my growing profile it feels like I can make a really valuable contribution to a corporate relationship. I’ve never been interested in a free ride. I want to work with a company and feel like I’m helping them achieve something.”

Hannah is a gifted speaker and regularly talks at schools and corporate events. “I’d really like to develop this side of things further. I love sharing my experiences with people, but it is also a great way of reinforcing the environmental message against global warming. Who better to talk about the deterioration of our ice caps than those of us who regularly spend time there and witness it first hand? Global warming is real and we have to act now. The environment is the responsibility of each and every one of us and I feel a responsibility to spread the word and encourage ordinary folk to get involved.

“Apart from the more conventional sponsorship benefits such as brand placement and endorsement by someone in my field, it would also be great to find a sponsorship relationship, where my supporter has similar concerns and we could develop something together, maybe a schools tour and education programme or a corporate tour to encourage other companies to embrace their social responsibilities.”
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Hannah McKeand is available for interview and in the UK until 1 August 2007.

To contact Hannah McKeand directly please call 07798 635 285 or email

Editor’s notes: Hannah McKeand will be making a presentation at the BAFTA’s David Lean Room on Wednesday July 18 at 7.00 PM, to which journalists are invited. There will be a photo opportunity at 6.30 PM.

Please contact Carrie-Anne Savage on 020 7017 0894, email if you would like to attend.

In December 2006 British athlete Hannah McKeand set a new world record for skiing solo and unsupported the 690 miles from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. Completing her journey in just 39 days 9 hours and 33 minutes she broke the previous record by almost two days.

Images available on request.

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