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First British explorer successfully crosses Antarctica solo

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Captain Louis Rudd has become the first British explorer to complete an unassisted journey across the continent of Antarctica.

Capt Rudd, 49, is only the second person in history to complete a journey once thought impossible, finishing his expedition just a few days after American Colin O’Brady, 33.

The pair were both in the running to be the first to traverse Antarctica without receiving resupplies or being powered forward by the wind.

“While the last 32 hours were some of the most challenging hours of my life, they have quite honestly been some of the best moments I have ever experienced,” Mr O’Brady wrote on Instagram.

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Day 54: FINISH LINE!!! I did it! The Impossible First ✅. 32 hours and 30 minutes after leaving my last camp early Christmas morning, I covered the remaining ~80 miles in one continuous “Antarctica Ultramarathon” push to the finish line. The wooden post in the background of this picture marks the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, where Antarctica’s land mass ends and the sea ice begins. As I pulled my sled over this invisible line, I accomplished my goal: to become the first person in history to traverse the continent of Antarctica coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided. While the last 32 hours were some of the most challenging hours of my life, they have quite honestly been some of the best moments I have ever experienced. I was locked in a deep flow state the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey. I’m delirious writing this as I haven’t slept yet. There is so much to process and integrate and there will be many more posts to acknowledge the incredible group of people who supported this project. But for now, I want to simply recognize my #1 who I, of course, called immediately upon finishing. I burst into tears making this call. I was never alone out there. @jennabesaw you walked every step with me and guided me with your courage and strength. WE DID IT!! We turned our dream into reality and proved that The Impossible First is indeed possible. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela. #TheImpossibleFirst #BePossible

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Capt Rudd said the trek had been emotional and was dedicated to his close friend and fellow British explorer Henry Worsley, who died near the end of his attempt of the same journey in 2016.

The 55-year-old Mr Worsley was attempting to recreate the majority of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s unfinished journey to the South Pole and become the first adventurer to cross the continent unsupported.

Writing in his blog, Capt Rudd said: “I’ve just heard that the American Colin’s finished. Fantastic, well done to him. He’d pushed really hard all the way across and done extremely well, so congratulations to him.”

Capt Rudd added that he hadn’t considered the expedition a race and said: “It’s always been about completing the journey.”

Louis Rudd. Pic: Shackleton / Rene Koster
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Capt Rudd finished his journey on Friday after 56 days. Pic: Shackleton / Rene Koster

Mr O’Brady had been told he may never walk again after an accident burned his legs in 2008.

After finishing, he wrote: “I’m going to sit tight here at the finish and wait for Lou to complete his crossing.

“Captain Louis Rudd is one of the most accomplished polar explorers to ever live and a distinguished member of the British Armed Forces.

“It has been an honour to strive for the same goal – the first to complete a solo, unsupported, unaided crossing of Antarctica.

“I’m looking forward to greeting him here at the finish line and congratulating him on his extraordinary accomplishment.

“We will step into the history books together as the only two people to have completed such a crossing.”

Louis Rudd. Pic: Shackleton / Rene Koster
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Capt Rudd praised Colin O’Brady for his achievement. Pic: Shackleton / Rene Koster

Capt Rudd returned the praise: “I want to say a huge congratulations to Colin – what an achievement.

“To be honest it’s a minor miracle that both of us have completed a journey that’s been attempted before, but nobody’s ever managed it and then, lo and behold, in one season two of us attempting it.

“The fact that both of us have finished is absolutely fantastic,” he added.

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