Antarctica 2019: Richard Parks Makes a Surprise Run at Speed Record

Just when it looked as if the 2019-2020 Antarctic expedition season was coming to an end and there wouldn’t be a whole lot more to share, a surprise visitor to the frozen continent popped up yesterday. Former Welsh rugby player turned outdoor adventurer Richard Parks has broken his silence and has suddenly begun sharing updates from the ice as he pursues a speed record for skiing from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. Despite the fact that he has been in Antarctica for days, we’re just now learning about his expedition, even as he closes in on 90ºS.

ExWeb was the first to notice that Parks was posting updates via Twitter from the Antarctic. That said, we knew that he was planning another South Pole expedition for this season, but Parks chose to fly below the radar and didn’t really announce his intentions or start date. He also didn’t share much in the way of progress reports until just a few days ago. Apparently, he set out from Hercules Inlet back on December 17 with the goal of beating Christian Eide’s speed record to the Pole, which stands at 24 days, 1 hour, and 13 minutes. Parks is now on his 27th day, so obviously he won’t beat that record, but he has covered more than 1049 km (651 miles) and is now closing in on the end.

Last year, Parks made a run at the speed record as well but had to be evacuated from the ice when he ran into health issues. He had indicated early on that he would return to have another go at it this year, but has been fairly mum about his plans and progress. Now it seems he has been making the speed record attempt off the radar, even though he’s been struggling with the challenges of the Antarctic fo several weeks now.

All of that said, Parks does still have a chance of breaking his own new speed record for a Brit skiing to the South Pole. In order to do that, he’ll need to reach the finish line sometime today, although at last check he still had about 40 km (24 miles) to go. That’s no small distance to cover in a single day. On top of that, he’s starting to run low on food and could require a supply drop, which would remove his “unsupported” status and nullify any record attempts. In other words, he’s on a precarious line at the moment where he needs to cover a daunting distance in a fairly short period of time with almost no food to provide calories to burn along the way.

We’ll keep a close eye on his progress to see when he arrives.

Kraig Becker