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Cardiff Met students help former Welsh Rugby International complete gruelling polar expedition

​January 17, 2020

Cardiff Metropolitan University
Richard Parks has conquered the southernmost continent of the globe


Former Wales forward turned adventurer Richard Parks has conquered the southernmost continent of the globe – Antarctica – in under a month solo, unassisted and unsupported on skis, thanks to innovations developed at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Battling extreme weather and dwindling supplies across 1150km (715) miles of some of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth, Richard reached the South Pole in 28 days, 21 hours and 59 minutes this week [Jan 15].

Having departed Hercules Inlet the geographical coastline of Antarctica in December, he skied at speeds of up to 4km an hour, often for up to 17 hours at a time, powered by specially developed nutritional packs developed by staff and students at the university’s school of Sport and Health Sciences.

Beating the previous British record set by himself in 2014, Richard is the first Welshman to complete this epic journey, tweeting: “I've just arrived at the South Pole. We did it! Thank you.”

Academics and students across Cardiff Met’s Schools rose to the challenge set by Richard, collaborating on key components of his equipment and preparation – from designing his hi-tech sled, tent and clothing to the fitness training and nutritional plan that helped make the dream a reality.

Simon Dawson, Programme Director from Cardiff Met’s School of Sport & Health Sciences explained: “Developing food rations that would be both portable and sufficiently nutritious was a challenge, and the plan we developed was a crucial element in Richard’s success. It was a nail-biting final few days when rations become low, but I’m delighted to celebrate in Richard and our students’ achievements.”

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cara Aitchison said: “We are incredibly proud of Richard’s achievement, which showed enormous courage, determination and super-human effort. As an ambassador of Cardiff Met, his endeavour leaves a valuable legacy for our students, for Wales and beyond, helping to create new learning opportunities in both the education and business sectors.”