"Men (and women) are not made by easy victories, but by great defeats" - Sir Ernest Shackleton

British polar endurance athlete Wendy Searle has been forced to end her challenge to break the female South Pole world speed record, solo, unsupported and unassisted. 

Despite making excellent progress over the past 14 days and being on track to beat the current 38-day record of trekking 750miles across the coldest, windiest and most hazardous terrain in the world, Wendy has realised that a combination of factors against her make the record unlikely.

"As well as intense preparation and planning, you need the lucky stars to align to achieve a speed record in Antarctica," said Shackleton's Director of Expeditions, Louis Rudd. "Multiple factors have conspired against Wendy, most significantly the worst conditions in a decade and a chest infection that won't clear despite antibiotics."

Searle will be picked up by plane later today having completed more than 320 km and taken to Union Glacier, Antarctica where she will recover before returning to the UK.

Shackleton co-founders Martin Brooks and Ian Holdcroft said, "We are all immensely proud of what Wendy has achieved and are highly respectful of her decision. Having already become the seventh woman in history to ski solo to the pole in 2020, Wendy knows better than anyone what it takes to break the record  - and if circumstances don't permit it, this is the safe and sensible decision.

"We have no doubt that she will channel her understandable disappointment in a positive way and come back stronger than ever in her next endeavour."


On the 3rd January, after a successful recovery from a chest infection that halted her original expedition, Wendy successfully summited Antarctica’s highest peak, Mt Vinson.

Turning around her Antarctic season with fierce determination, Wendy has proven that she is a true adventurer in the mould of Sir Ernest Shackleton himself. Her achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication that it takes to succeed in the face of adversity. Wendy's ascent to the top of Mount Vinson is an inspiration to us all and a reminder of the limitless potential of the human spirit. Huge congratulations to Wendy for an incredible achievement.


Wendy's voice note updates from the expedition are available to listen to HERE.