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Polar explorer – graduate attempts world-first

A University of St Andrews Geography graduate is preparing to spend his 48th birthday walking to a place on Earth where no-one has ever been.

Jonathan Geldart, who graduated Master of Arts in 1980, has been selected from thousands of applicants throughout the UK to walk to the Arctic Pole, the centre of the Arctic Ocean, the furthest point from land.

Led by accomplished expedition leader Jim McNeill, February’s expedition has been hailed ‘the biggest, most ambitious human endeavour in recent polar history’. Jon, international marketing director for professional services firm Grant Thornton and originally from Harrogate, will be the oldest of 25 Arctic novices taking part in the record-breaking attempt.

The father-of-three heard about the attempt through an advert in a national newspaper which was appealing for men and women to take part in a ‘hazardous journey’.

The Ice Warrior team has already undergone a year of training, including three weeks in the Arctic wastes of Resolute in Northern Canada, learning Arctic survival skills and how to build an airstrip so they can be ‘extracted’ after the 110-day expedition.

Mr Geldart said, “It has already been a fabulous and life-changing experience. I now have a healthy mixture of confidence and fear for what will undoubtedly be the trip of a lifetime.”

Raising awareness for Cancer Research UK, the group will pull sledges weighing up to 250lbs for up to 10 hours a day, 210 miles to the Magnetic Pole.

“It’s a bit like dragging a bath- tub with a person in it across long grass all day”, said Jon.

Apart from a few sweets and chocolate, they will have nothing to eat but freeze-dried Arctic rations and will have to look out for man-eating polar bears. It is likely that Mr Geldart and all but two of the team will return to the expedition base camp in Resolute after reaching Magnetic Pole. Jim McNeill and Mark Wood will then go on walking to be the first people in history to reach the Arctic Pole, a further 448 miles into the centre of the Arctic Ocean. From there, they will walk a further 413 miles to the Geographic Pole.

In addition to a keep-fit regime which includes running marathons, pulling tyres and climbing mountains, Jon believes his degree, and time at the University of St Andrews, also played a role in his ability to achieve the once- in-a-lifetime goal.

“Undoubtedly my time at St Andrews taught me a lot about people and gave me a real discipline in the way I approach both my work and home life. I particularly think that the academic family tradition of the University stood me in good stead in thinking about and relying on others to achieve the goals you set yourself.”

For more information, please contact Jon directly on 07802 766168 or visit www.ice-warrior.com

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS – A selection of images are available from the University of St Andrews Press Office – contact details below.

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk; Ref: press releases/polarexplorer View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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