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06 Dec 2011 11:12:39

Alone between two white voids: Mark Wood updates us on his progress from Antarctica

London/Antarctica, 6 December 2011 - After two weeks trekking alone through Antarctica’s seemingly infinite terrain, the South Pole is still a long way off for Coventry’s Mark Wood.

Mark’s mission is to become the first person in history to conquer the South and North Pole’s alone. An ex-army boy and firefighter he is strong and used to tough challenges, but this is a quest like no other.

Today is Day 15 of Mark’s first 680 mile trek. His daily updates via Ipadio satellite phone have become essential listening. With the wind harrowing outside his tent, these snippets of contact give a remarkable insight of the extreme challenge he is up against.

“I lost my iPod on Day 2, so all I have in my head is where I’m heading. I’m really in the expedition constantly, there’s no room for thoughts of home,” he tells us via Ipadio satellite phone. “I’ll get used to it, I feel positive. You’ve gotta progress to success!”

Inspiring words from a man alone in a white void, with nothing other than his own thoughts to keep him company.

“All I can see is a vast mass of ice 360 degrees around me; it’s like you’re standing on the moon,” explained Mark. “Earlier today I looked up and I saw the sky was a complete cloud all the way across. It was like somebody had put a white dome on top of the Antarctic, and all around the horizon was a blue line of sky. It was so strange, like being trapped between two white voids.”

Dr Harbinder Sandhu, a psychologist from Warwick University who helped Mark prepare for this extraordinary expedition, explains a few techniques he’ll be using while alone on the ice.

“Positive self-talk is a key skill and as Mark will be on his own, using trigger words throughout the day will help keep him going. The biggest challenge Mark will face is not giving up,” explained Dr Sandhu.

Short term daily goals to maintain and improve motivation, visual imagery and breathing techniques will also keep Mark going in those low moments.

And if the mental strain of the expedition wasn’t enough to deal with, Mark is enduring some strange food combinations. Spaghetti bolognaise seems to have become a regular on the menu, but last night’s dinner was a real winner, consisting of salami, cheese and chicken stew!

Another of Mark’s supporters Richard Watson, a sports therapist and personal trainer, helped Mark prepare for the physical challenge of the expedition (food aside!). Richard recalls how Mark’s body wasn’t in perfect condition to begin with.

“During September’s training expedition in the Himalayas disaster struck when he got caught in a landslide. Helping people evacuate, Mark injured his knee. Thankfully no permanent damage was done. I just hope he’s careful out there on the ice.”

Richard concluded: “Mark’s strong mental attitude will help him get through. He is incredibly committed and I wish him every success.”

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