CURRANZ ambassador Neil Hunter has become the first Diabetic adventurer to reach the south pole unsupported.
The Brit from Surrey completed his 730-mile skiing mission in 51 days and became one of fewer than 30 people to have done so solo and unassisted.
The 48-year-old lugged a 100kg load behind him on a carbon fibre sled - and one of the key weapons in his armoury was our blackcurrant extract.
Neil used our supplement on his mission because of its multiple vital benefits that would assist his challenge. A user for five years, CurraNZ allowed him to recover quickly, with every day involving up to 11 hours of skiing.
Neil said: “This was a huge undertaking.
"But I only went and bloody did it! I arrived at the South Pole at 1730 Chilean time (3 hours behind UK) and had perfect conditions all day with the very cold temperatures up here on the plateau.
"I started to count the miles down gradually but stopped every now and then to take in the last of the solitude and admire the barren beauty of this place. It’s very unlikely I’ll experience this again so wanted to take as much in as I could.
"When I arrived at the ALE camp, a handful of staff came out to greet me and it was such a relief to take off the harness for the last time.
“I dealt with headwinds that reached around 60mph, white-out conditions and temperatures as low as -45C."
“It was a huge test of endurance - which is something I’ve built up by training for a year."
Extraordinarily, Neil completed the 730-mile crossing in 51 days while managing his diabetes, setting an example to others.
“For me, it’s not about the accolade of becoming the first insulin-using diabetic to have ever reached the South Pole solo and unassisted. It’s about raising awareness about this condition and proving that your body will do so much more than you think it can.”
He says: “I’ve been using CurraNZ, to help me recover from exercise and aid endurance for the past five years.Neil has been using CurraNZ for his fitness since the product was launched. He relied on our product to cope with the long, hard days of skiing while pulling 100kg of supplies.
“It seemed only logical to pack it for my once-in-a-lifetime adventure because I know that it really works for me.”
Neil’s life was turned upside down 12 years ago when he was medically discharged from the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service after his doctor diagnosed type 2 diabetes.
He explains: “I had no idea I had it and I was diagnosed entirely by chance – it was just a routine medical test.
“It was a huge surprise because I was fit and healthy, and I had always associated diabetes with obesity and poor health which although is a contributing factor, isn’t always the case.
“But I have learnt how to manage it and to recognise the signs. My body tells me when action is needed.”
The diagnosis forced him to reassess his life, which became the starting point for his adventurous undertakings.
In 2007 he and friend Scott McNaughton completed a 2,935 mile, 67-day row across the Atlantic, setting off from the Canary Islands and landing in Antigua.
For that feat of endurance he raised £20,000 for charity Diabetes UK.
And he followed that up by climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America, skiing 350 miles across the Greenland icecap and scaling Mount Elbrus in southern Russia.
Now he’s gone solo – aiming to reach the South Pole under his own steam.
The quest began on November 11, when he flew from Heathrow to Santiago, Chile. He then jetted on to Punta Arenas before landing at Union Glacier in Antarctica.
Fewer than 30 entirely solo missions have been successfully completed on the route - which features a 2,000-metre incline over the first few days.
Neil has spent the past year taking part in training sessions where he dragged two tyres behind him, weighing a combined 45kg, for hours at a time in a bid to emulate the Antarctic experience.
And he said: “Antarctica is a beautiful continent and it’s long held a fascination for me. I have images in my mind of Captain Scott trying to reach the South Pole and even George Mallory’s Everest climb. These definitely piqued my interest.
“I also like it because it has an end point, it’s something tangible. It’s also a hardship and will see me being entirely self-sufficient which is something that appeals to me.
“The truth is that I also like the solitude of being alone – it’s what I’m most looking forward to. Even though I’ve never been by myself for as long as this, it is a pull factor for me.”
His 100kg sled-load includes 65kg of dehydrated food needed to supply the 6,200 calories per day he needs to keep him going.
It will also contain three gallons of fuel to power two stoves, a tent, sleeping bag, inflatable mattress, clothing, equipment and a first aid kit.
And should an emergency unfold, he will have a satellite phone and three GPS devices. No contact from him for 48 hours would launch a rescue mission.
It was crucial back-up for the adventure which saw him face the danger of crevasses, snow drifts and wind-formed ridges – plus waves of ice formed on the snow-filled landscape.
Neil can be supported through donations at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/southpolesolo.
Follow him on Facebook: @90DegreesSouthSolo
More details of his adventure are at www.90degreessouthsolo.co.uk.