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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
My 'invincible' husband
By Jonathan Morris
BBC News Online

The wife of polar explorer Pen Hadow has spoken of his "extraordinary" achievement after a record-breaking trek to the North Pole.

Mary Hadow and son Wilf
Mary Hadow and son Wilf plotted Pen's course to the Pole
Mary Hadow had been watching husband Pen's progress day by day as he neared his target.

Mr Hadow faced the threats of shifting ice, polar bears and killer whales in his 478-mile odyssey, which began on 17 March.

He even swam in the freezing waters in a specially-designed suit, as he continued to tow his buoyant sledge behind him.

On Tuesday he achieved his goal of being the first person to walk unassisted and solo from the treacherous Canadian side.

Mrs Hadow, who runs a PR company from the couple's Dartmoor home, spoke to her husband by satellite phone.

She said: "He sounded very happy, but very tired.

He realised he had gone round in a circle, like Winnie the Pooh
Mary Hadow
"I think it's absolutely extraordinary. I knew he was good when he set off, but I did not know he was the best in the world."

Mrs Hadow, and the couple's children, Wilf, four, and Freya, one, have been tracking his progress on a map pinned to the kitchen wall of their home.

And Mrs Hadow has been in contact via satellite phone and email.

"Our conversations have been mainly about the kids - Freya's first birthday, Wilf going to school - to give him something else to think about, except, plod, plod, plod."

Dragging tyres

But some incidents have been far from pedestrian.

Two weeks ago Mr Hadow lost one of his skis after falling through the ice.

That left him struggling along on foot, but still managing to cover up to 18 miles a day.

Pen Hadow
Pen Hadow towed his supplies on a floating sledge (Polar Travel Co)
Mrs Hadow said: "Falling through the ice is par for the course on a trip like this, so he is prepared for that.

"And anyway, he does not get shaken up in a crisis.

"When he lost his ski he told me 'I have had a development'."

At one stage he thought he had come across another expedition's tracks.

Mrs Hadow said: "He realised he had gone round in a circle, like Winnie the Pooh."

Before setting out on March, Mr Hadow completed a tough training programme, including dragging car tyres behind him on Dartmoor, to build up stamina.

"It was a dream he has harboured for 25 years. Invincible is the word which springs to mind," said Mrs Hadow.

She has only let her guard down on her emotions in their contacts once, when she spoke to him in France, while on holiday with friends.

"Most of the time I am too busy and I do not think about it," she said.

"But I was very emotional and it was quite tearful for everyone."

Now she is looking forward to a reunion on Bank Holiday Monday.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Mary Hadow
"He has been in training for a year"



SEE ALSO:
Explorer sets new polar record
20 May 03  |  Devon
Goss unveils polar mission
16 May 03  |  England
Student sent polar bear packing
25 Apr 03  |  Devon


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