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   Fastest journey to the South Pole: world record set by Todd Carmichael
 

 THE SOUTH POLE, Antarctica -- Adventurer Todd Carmichael, 44, walked solo 700 miles across Antarctica from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in 39 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes, setting the world record for the Fastest journey to the South Pole.

  Photo:
  Todd Carmichael averaged 18 miles a day on foot and skis through Antarctica's notoriously ragged terrain and frigid weather. (enlarge photo)


    In addition to breaking the world speed record, previously held by Briton Hannah McKeand, Todd Carmichael became the first American to go solo and unsupported to the South Pole.

   The official time for Carmichael’s trip was 39 days, 7 hours, 33 minutes.

   The previous speed record, held by British adventurer Hannah McKeand, was 39 days, 9 hours, 33 minutes, set back in 2006. Hannah was also solo and unsupported.    

   "I can only imagine how depleted he is, but from his voice on the phone, you'd never know it," said the singer-songwriter Lauren Hart, Carmichael's wife, who spoke to him on Monday on a spotty phone call.

    "He thought he could do it, but deep down, when you get down into that kind of situation, I think that he must have been thinking a few times, 'What am I doing here?' "


   Along the way, he had nothing but his tent to shelter him and a sled’s worth of supplies, losing even his ability to contact home.

    That difference of 1 hour and 44 minutes comes up to a difference of less than .2% of their time out on the ice, or as ExplorersWeb put its: "If the same difference was applied to a 100 meter dash, it would equal less than 0.02 seconds".

  
He very nearly didn’t make it. By the end of his odyssey, he had lost 40 pounds, run out of food and frozen the tissue in his lungs from exerting himself to such an extreme level for so long in the cold. “They said maybe 24 more hours and I wouldn’t have been able to breathe anymore,” Todd Carmichael said.

   
Not one but both of Carmichael’s phones broke early on. He rigged up a way to send a beacon every night, taping a solar panel to the broken phone and alerting South Pole Communications of his position.
   They could see that he was alive and moving forward, but that was all. “What was frightening about that was that I never heard any confirmation,” Todd Carmichael said. “I never even knew if that signal worked.”

    
Todd Carmichael, 45, who co-owns the La Colombe coffee company, pushed off on skis from Hercules Inlet, on the edge of Antarctica, on Nov. 12. After problems with his ski bindings, Carmichael ditched the gear on Day Nine and walked. He averaged about 18 miles a day through the world's harshest environment.

    Todd Carmichael spoke to scientists at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station about his experience. Wayne Moore, a physician's assistant working at the pole, posted a medical update to SubZeroSolo.com, Carmichael's Web site: "To all his very concerned friends and family, he has made a rapid recovery from the trip and has become a local hero at the station."

   
Todd Carmichael, a 1982 graduate of Spokane's Ferris High School, owns a Philadelphia coffee roasting business. He was known as Todd McLaughlin, using his stepfather's last name, when he ran on Ferris' 1981 state champion cross-country team.

  
"My brother is an adventurer at heart," said his oldest sister, Lisa Wolfe, who lives in Spokane.
    "He's done a number of things in his life that are truly extraordinary, like going through Africa for weeks and sailing through South Pacific islands for months ... and being lost at sea overnight without a boat off the coast of France."
    He practices and preaches low-carbon, self-sufficient travel, she said.

   
"He said that before he got any older, he wanted to do one really big adventure. He thought about climbing Mount Everest but said a lot of people do that. So he selected something so big and remote that few people have done it."

   
Plagued with gale-force winds and equipment troubles in the first days of the trek, he had indicated some discouragement about beating the record. But improvised repairs to ski bindings, poles and other gear enabled him to focus on putting icy miles behind him while pulling a sled -- he calls it The Pig -- that weighed about 250 pounds at the outset.

  Carmichael celebrated Thanksgiving with three freeze-dried dinners -- Mac and cheese, chili mac with beef and beef stew -- after a brutal 19-mile day.

   Even though he consumed food and fuel to make The Pig lighter near the end, "The sled felt heavier than it did on Day 1," he said.

   After such a feat, what could possibly be Carmichael's next challenge? "He's had a lot of time out there by himself to think," his wife, Lauren Hart, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Too much time to think. He'll come up with something."

   Related world records:
  Fastest around the world flight-world record set by Caroll Ann Garratt and Carol Foy

  
Longest Journey by Skateboard-world record set by Rob Thomson
 

  
Youngest to solo airplane and helicopters on same day-world record set by Errick Smith

    Longest Stand Up Paddle board journey-world record set by Justin DeBree

  Longest journey around the world -world record set by Rosie Swale Pope

   Fastest vertical circumnavigation-Adrian Flanagan sets world record


    Longest Journey on Skates-world record set by Khoo Swee Chiow

   Friday, January 2, 2009
 

 
 
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