HRH The Duke of Cambridge has congratulated a British Army expedition after the team completed the most authentic-ever recreation of the famous Scott-Amundsen race to the South Pole today – exactly 100 years to the day since Captain Robert Falcon Scott reached the Pole.
Led by Lt Col Henry Worsley MBE, a British Army Officer, the ‘Amundsen’ team followed the exact route forged by the Norwegian adventurer 100 years ago. He and WO2 Lou Rudd ensured history repeated itself by beating the ‘Scott’ team, after reaching the geographical South Pole at 17:20 on 9 January following a gruelling seven-hour push to cover the final 12.5 nautical miles. The Scott team, led by WO2 Mark Langridge and his fellow adventurers SSgt Kev Johnson and SSgt Vic Vicary, reached the Pole at 10:25 on 17 January – the exact day that Capt Scott arrived in 1911. The team followed Scott’s exact route that included climbing the famous Beardmore Glacier.
The expedition aims to raise £500,000 for The Royal British Legion's crucial work, providing care and support to serving and ex-Service people, and their families.
HRH The Duke of Cambridge is Patron of the Scott Amundsen Centenary Race 2011/2012. In a personal message of support and congratulations to the teams today, the Duke said: “As a serving Officer, it makes me so proud that, with the staunch support of The Royal British Legion, it is British soldiers who have achieved this great feat. Four out of the five men who went forward as Scott’s final party were Servicemen too. How proud they would be too of what you have achieved in their memory.”
The epic two-month journey saw both teams battle some of the planet’s toughest terrain and hazardous weather conditions to cover a combined distance of 1500 nautical miles unsupported. The teams carried all their food and fuel across the ice in sledges weighing 140kg each, experiencing temperatures as low at minus 51 degrees Celsius.
The teams read diary extracts from the original expeditions to give them encouragement on their journey. The Scott team also paid homage to the original expedition by marking the point where each member died en route. The men now begin a long journey back to the UK but are ‘exhilarated’ by their achievement.
Lt Col Worsley commented, "It’s been an absolute privilege for us to be able to follow in the footsteps of the great Polar pioneers. The journey has been formidably demanding, but so worthwhile knowing that we are raising money for The Royal British Legion’s fantastic work.
“What we have gone through to reach the Pole is nothing compared to what injured and disabled fellow Service men, friends and comrades, will have to go through for the rest of their lives.”
WO2 Mark Langridge said, “We marched through the night to make it to the Pole on this historic day. We’re completely shattered but so proud to have reached our goal.”
The Legion’s Director of National Events and Fundraising Russell Thompson said: “A huge congratulations to the Scott and Amundsen teams who have between them covered a 1500 nautical mile gruelling journey over snow and ice to reach the South Pole. It is an extraordinary achievement and The Royal British Legion is thrilled to be supported by the funds raised from this historical trip.”
The money raised from the expedition will go towards The Royal British Legion’s £50 million funding commitment supporting the MoD’s programme of recovery for wounded, sick and injured Armed Forces personnel.
For further information on the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race 2011/12 visit www.scottamundsenrace.org.