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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 02:11 GMT
Three aim for polar glory
Team members (l-r) Pom Oliver, Ann Daniels and Caroline Hamilton
The trio are ready to face temperatures as low as -40C
A trio of British women adventurers hope to set a record by becoming the first female team to trek all the way to both poles.

Caroline Hamilton, 36, 33-year-old mother of triplets Ann Daniels, and 47-year-old property developer Pom Oliver conquered the South Pole in January 2000.

Caroline Hamilton spoke to BBC News Online on the eve of their departure for Canada where final preparations for the northern expedition will be made.

Arctic exploration seems a far cry from Caroline Hamilton's usual work as a film financier, but the Londoner is positively relishing the challenge ahead.

"I'm really looking forward to it," she said. "It's been a year in the planning and this is finally the moment of truth."

What makes you succeed is keeping calm and keeping your emotions under control

Caroline Hamilton
"We are getting old hands at it now," she said. "We've been to the Arctic before, but the real experience came with going to the South Pole."

They now plan to drag 250lb sleds across 500 miles of treacherous pack ice in their record attempt to reach the North Pole.

But according to Caroline, the Arctic circle presents a challenge of a different nature.

"I think in some ways a lot of people would say the North Pole is harder.

"One of the things that makes it difficult is because it is frozen ocean instead of a continent.

"The ice is breaking up so there are bits of open water you must go around, and ice boulders you have to clamber over."

Weight watching

That considered, it is perhaps unsurprising that while the South Pole was first conquered in 1911, the North Pole was not reached on foot until 1969.

Although the team hopes to reach the pole in 60-70 days, this will "depend very largely on ice conditions".

"You cannot go in a straight line, you have to pick your way through."

The team have been building their upper body strength for the long haul
Caroline has spent the past few months getting herself in shape - in shape for the Arctic, that is.

"I've done a lot of training, particularly weight training," she said.

"We'll have to drag the sleds across pressure ridges, wherever the ice heaps up on itself, that is really upper body strength.

"In the south you are skiing all day. Here the first half of the expedition will be much more physical."

Most of the sled weight will be food, all of which they must carry themselves.

"The challenge is to pack as many calories into it as possible. We've managed 6,000 calories per kilo, which will be our daily ration.

"And we've all put on a lot of weight. I've put on 20 lbs now, but I'm sure I'll lose it all though."

Home comforts

But physical strength is only half the battle.

"It's all about keeping control in your head. Physically you've got to be very strong and fit but you've also got to be able to handle it mentally.

"Beyond the physical what makes you succeed is keeping calm and keeping emotions under control."

And what will she miss most when trekking through the sub-zero tundra on the top of the world?

"Eating food with a knife and fork, sitting in a chair and mashed potato.

"Life is hard, down to the bare essentials, and those sort of things mean an awful lot."

The BBC's Robert Hall
"Nine months of preparation are now at an end"
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