Children's magazine. Helen reveals her Sport Relief challenge for 2012, having already completed an ultramarathon in Namibia and kayaked down the Amazon.
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I've spent months in secret training for a massive challenge.
It's going to be the toughest thing I've ever attempted.
I'm questioning myself, who's going to believe in me. On today's show,
I can finally reveal the extreme adventure I'm taking on for next
Argh... She's kayaked the Amazon. Such a
good feeling. She's ran 72 miles in a desert ultra--marathon. Oh, my...
Every step is agony. And she's walked a high-wire 66 metres in the
air. This girl's amazing. All the extreme challenges have tested her
mind and body to the limit. Action speak louder than words on this one.
It's her next adventure that puts all those others in the shade.
is so hard. Because this year, she's undertaking one of the most
extreme journeys in the world. Hello. I am so relieved to finally
be able to let you in on a secret. I've been preparing for five months
for perhaps my most difficult and dangerous challenge ever, but I've
not been allowed to say a word about it. Yet finally today, I can.
I really care about the projects that Sport Relief funds. So for
2012 I'm going to attempt to get to the South Pole. Ifil be travelling
by kite, ski and, in a world first, I will be trying to cycle part of
my journey to the Pole. It is without doubt the biggest thing
I've ever taken on. I'm attempting to travel 500 miles
over the most hostile terrain in the world, the Antarctic, a frozen
continent at the most southerly point of the globe.
With temperatures as low as minus 50, I've got three different modes
of transport in the hope that whatever the weather throws at me,
my journey to the South Pole won't grind to a halt.
Skiing is one way for me to travel, but it's physically demanding and
painstakingly slow. Kite skiing is the fastest form of transport I'll
be using and the most dangerous. I'm aiming to use the strong
Antarctic winds to pull me on skis over the ground, but it's hard to
master and I'll be relying on the right wind conditions.
My final mode of transport is a world first - no-one's ever made to
it the South Pole on a bike - but I want to prove that it can be done.
I'll be using a specially adapted ice bike with super fat tyres for
travelling on soft snow. Throughout my journey, I'll be dragging the
sled carrying everything I'll need and eat. It will weigh about 80
kilos, more than me! In the rough terrain, it will feel even heavier
and it will make it even harder to pull.
I hope I've got what it takes to make to it the South Pole. But it's
something that few people in history have managed to do.
Of course I'm excited because this is a massive adventure. But I'd be
lying if I said I wasn't nervous at all. This challenge is tough enough
on its own and it's going to take me to my limits mentally and
physically to. Make it worse, I'm going to be doing it all in the
Antarctic. If you have been watching Frozen Planet, you will
know it's the toughest environment in the world.
The South Pole - a place so inhospitable and remote that
there's no wildlife at all. The subzero temperatures will test
my body to its absolute limits. With the nearest medical facility
nearly 500 miles away, being able to spot the signs of injury and
illness is vital. Frostbite is the number one danger.
In temperatures as low as minus 50, the skin and tissue underneath can
freeze in seconds if they get exposed to the cold.
In the worst cases, the effected area can end up being amputated.
No-one knows exactly what terrain I'll be travelling over, and at any
moment, I could end up near huge cracks in the ice hundreds of
metres deep. I've had training to help me cope, but one wrong move
could spell disaster. Even if I stay warm and safe,
nothing can prepare me for the extreme weather which the Antarctic
can bring in. In just minutes, blue skies can turn into raging
blizzards with winds of up to 150mph. I could be snowed in,
stranded or lost hundreds of miles from anywhere.
The Antarctic is the most hostile place on earth and every minute of
every day that I'm there, I'll need to stay fully alert to its dangers.
Yes, it's a hostile environment, but I've been able to speak to
scientists who know how to handle the cold, to explorers who've been
there before me and experts who've travelled out the latest technology.
One of them is Ranulph Fiennes. He's described as the world's
greatest living explorer. He became the first person ever to
reach the North Pole and South Pole. Early on in my training, went to
Exmoor where Sir Ranulph Fiennes gave me some training to help me
control my sled on the ice. Not too bad... Pulling tyres is an
excellent way of replicating pulling a heavy sled full of
equipment, although it may look strange. Embarrassing. So heavy.
Are you ready to try the logs? If you are pulling and it won't come,
don't try too often because if your energy gets exhausted, you need to
learn the high jinx, pull to the left and right. Body down and
Coombe up like that. In the Antarctic, I'll need to pull my
sled over all sorts of terrain. uphill. Will I be on terrain like
this that's sort of uneven? Try it as much as you possibly can and the
moment you think you are not winning, turn round. Pfft... Oops-
a-Daisy... Falling around isn't always advisable.
I'm really impressed by Helen. She loves to do that little bit extra.
You can see it it's a personal affront not to finish anything.
Perfect attitude for what she's up I had no idea that the terrain
would be that extreme and I didn't entertain the idea that my sledge
would catch on things, jar and pull me back. Being able to control the
sled is far more important than I first thought, as I was about to
find out. What happened with your fingers?
Well that was in water. It was at night, it was minus 45 and my
sledge fell in the water, dragged me down ten feet. Once the sledge
was in the water jammed, it had my tent and cooker so I had to get it
out which meant putting my hand under the water. When the hand was
in the water at minus two, it wasn't a problem, but later when it
came out into minus 45 with a wet glove, I can tell you I lost all
the ends of the fingers in only three minutes of being exposed to
the wind and the cold with no insulation to protect them.
Frostbite can really normally only be got in the extreme cold
conditions if you allow your flesh to get to a certain temperature.
The blood will freeze and that flesh will die, starting usually at
the ends and then coming down towards the hands or toes. Even
people with vast amounts of experience do get caught out and
ultimately do fail don't they, so do I need to worry because I'm a
complete novice? In 38 years of doing polar expeditions, I made a
mistake for three minutes and that was too much and that can
definitely happen to you unless you remember the basic rules.
Meeting Sir Ranulph Fiennes made me realise how tough my challenge will
be. The first British expetition to the North Pole happened over a
hundred years ago. Today I'm in London at the Natural History
Museum and this huge space is being transformed into a brand-new
exhibition for 2012. It's all about Captain Robert Falcon Scott who 100
years ago became the first British explorer to reach the South Pole.
To find out more about his incredible story, I've come to the
British Film Institute where they've restored a film made of
Scott's expedition by the filmmaker Herbert Ponting. It gives a real
insight into what the first South Pole explorers had to face. It's
taken 14 experts two years to restore. Bryony Dixon is one of
those experts who, having spent so much time working with the original
film, now knows the story as well as anyone.
So they must have had no idea what they were going to and no idea what
to expect? As it says, only ten human beings has ever trodden on
that bit of land in the world ever. No-one had any idea what was in the
interior Antarctic. On the 1st November, 191, Captain Scott,
Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates and Edgar Evans set
out on their journey to the South Pole, their goal - to be the first
people ever to get there. Scott and his team weren't the only
ones wanting to get there first, Norwegian Captain Roald Amundsen
also landed a team in Antarctic. The race to the Pole was on.
What he didn't know was that Amundsen picked a better route. It
was shorter, more direct and it didn't have to go up this huge
glacier. Travelling with Scott were four support parties, their task
was to drop off large quantities of food at Des naited points along the
route which Scott and his men would use on the return journey --
designated. There's no food in Antarctic at all, so you've got to
take everything you need with you. Once the last of the support
parties had turned back, Scott and his companions were left all alone
to face the great white silence. Exhausted, frozen and starving
after 78 days of travelling, Scott and his men finally reached the
South Pole on the 17th January, 1912.
It should have been the greatest moment of their lives. But to their
dismay, they found a small deserted tent and the Norwegian flag already
flying. Roald Amundsen had beaten Scott to the bottom of the earth by
just 33 days. Shattered by the news, he wrote in his diary: It's a
terrible disappointment and I'm very sorry for my loyal companions.
Great God, this is an awful place. Devastated, the team had to face
the brutal return journey 850 miles back to base camp and they were
already running low on food. Even if they had enough foopd and
the conditions had been better, they may not have survived -- food.
They used all of their body fat. the 17th February, the first man
died. Edgar Evans fell into a coma from which he never woke up. The
next to fall was Captain Oates, suffering from terrible frostbite,
he left the tent saying "I'm just going outside and I may be some
time". They never saw him again. This is the really tragic, tragic
bit, is that they got within 11 miles of the food depot. It was one
day's march. After all that. they just couldn't do it.
Tragically for Scott and his men, a storm trapped them in their tent
for five days. On Thursday 29th March, he wrote "It seems a pity
but I don't think I can write any more". One by one, they died where
they lay, heroic to the bitter end. I'll deal with those conditions,
I'll have to go through that process of dragging a sledge,
melting snow, putting up a tent, trying to sleep in those freezing
conditions and it isn't all that different, or it doesn't feel like
it's going to be all that different to what I'll go through, so it's
quite scary. Although they didn't make it home, Scott and his men
discovered things that are still hugely important today.
Scott and his team collected some amazing things while they were on
their journey. One of them actually changed the way we think about the
world and that particular piece is in front of me now along with Dr
Peta Hayes. What exactly is it? Well, this is a fossil of an
extinct plant called glossopteris that lived millions of years ago.
It's incredibly difficult to see in this Antarctic material. So I've
got this specimen from India to show you. Glossopteris has a tong-
shaped leaf and a very distinctive vein pattern. So now I hope you
will be able to see that vein pattern in Scott's specimen from
Antarctic. So this suggests that there were leaves in Antarctic but
I thought it was too cold for anything to live there snfrpblgt
absolutely. This amazing discovery that there were large plants
growing in Antarctic made it clear to everyone that it can't always
have been as cold in Antarctic as it is today. It sparked a hundred
years of research in to past climates. Goes sop ter ris was a
key piece of evidence supporting the theory of continental drift --
glossopteris, which is the idea that continents move over time. It
helped prove that all the southern hemisphere continents were once
joined together. People said Scott and his men collected a few rocks
on their back. This isn't just a rock. Do you think they had any
idea how important that rock is? They didn't know it was
glossopteris, but they did know it was important. Even though they
were struggling, they collected it and they kept it with them. This
specimen is so precious because it is one of the 16 kilos of rock that
they kept on their sled that was then found with their bodies when
the rescuers discovered Scott and the team. Now, I haven't got a
scientific mission. That's not why I'm going out to Antarctic. But
there is a very good reason. Here are some of the children that I'm
Since I've been involved with Sport Relief and Comic Relief, I've had
the opportunity to meet some fantastic people whose lives have
been changed by projects funded by the money that you raise.
Among them are three hugely inspiring young men: Hamza, Henry
and Josh. When I met Josh, it was clear that
he spent most of his time caring for his sick mum. His dad died win
he was young, so it's down to Josh to do all the work around the house,
and I mean everything, cleaning, cooking, the lot. He's the grown up
in the house, the man of the house. But thanks to a project funded by
Sport Relief, Josh does get a break. What 4? Is a youth project that
gives dozens of kids with tough lives a place to hang out and to
just enjoy being themselves. Sport Relief supports projects all over
the world. Henry lives in Lema, the capital of Peru. When I met him, he
was nine years old and this is where he worked.
It's so steep, you can't see the bottom. This is a total wasteland.
This is ridiculous. Henry spent hours sifting through the rubbish
looking for anything that could be recycled so he could sell it. Any
money he made, he gave straight to his family, just so they could
afford to eat. I've got tough walking boots on, so I'm pretty
safe. Henry's got trainers that are ripped. I don't even think you even
need me to stand here and say it's this, that and dangerous because
it's plain to see. In this neighbourhood, there is hope for
children like Henry. Processo Sociale is a Sport Relief-funded
project that gets children off the rubbish dump. They learn social
skills, play games and, most importantly, they can be kids.
Like Henry, children living in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, can
struggle just to survive. More than a million people live
here but shockingly, more than 2,000 of them are children that
sleep on the streets. When I was there, Hamza was one of them. He
slept by the side of the road with only a piece of cardboard and a
potato sack to keep him warm. How long has Hamza been living on the
streets? Hamza has been on the street over two years. Two years?!
His mum died and he fell out with his step mum. He told me she
threatened him with a knife so he ran away. What is it like going to
sleep here every night? It Dirty, doesn't like it. Terrible.
But Hamza can have a better future. This drop-in centre gives children
with nowhere else to go a safe place. It provides a decent meal
and somewhere to learn and play. It's a completely different world
and he's a completely different kid. I've seen it first hand, so please
believe me when I say that projects like these funded by Sport Relief
really do make a huge difference to the lives of children all over the
world. They're the reason that I'm doing
this. Yes, I know it's going to be difficult and there'll be times
when I'm totally out of my comfort zone, but I can't exactly complain
when you think about Josh or Henry or Hamza. They face challenges
every single day and they don't have any choice about it. Sport
Relief helps people living difficult lives here in the UK and
in some of the world's poorest countries. I'm hoping that by doing
this challenge, I'll inspire you to get involved with Sport Relief.
We'll be telling you how in the New Year.
There's no way I could go on an expedition like this without a huge
amount of specialist training. And there's been a lot to learn.
I've been preparing for this epic journey for about five months. I've
trained pretty much every day to try and get my body and stamina up
to scratch. First, to make sure that I'm fit enough, I had to pass
a tough medical. OK. Keep driving... Push those legs, come on! Have I
passed? Green light for go, looking forward to it. Then the real hard
work began. To prepare my body to pull my heavy sled I've spent day
after day training in every situation imaginable.
That's it. And push... 500 miles, are you having a laugh... I'd have
to get used to it if I were to have any chance of making it to the
South Pole. I've had to learn kite skiing. I got to grips with the
kite on the land first, then the water. It took me to Devon for over
a week in the hands of one of the best kite surfers from the UK. Then
I turned kite surfing into kite skiing. Ou. With a week of training
in the frozen mountains of New By far the most unusual part of my
journey has been getting my head around the ice bike. It's a
specially adapted bike with fat tyres and no-one's ever
successfully used one to get to the South Pole before. I went to Los
Angeles in America to get the bike and practise on sandy dunes and
beaches. I've also picked up some invaluable off road biking skills.
Let it roll, roll, roll... Let it roll.
I can't. Keep it going, keep it going, keep it going... Yeah!
it! And I've spent time under hi- tech observation in a science lab
where I've tested out different body positions to help me find the
best possible posture to use when I cycle. Body positioning is
excellent, as long as she can keep that up for 500 miles. OK, Helen,
we are done with that run, you can stop pedalling. Explorers often say
the most successful expeditions are those with the best preparation.
I've given my all over the past few months. And now, as I leave for the
South Pole, I'll find out if it's been enough.
Obviously the main aim of this is for me to get to the South Pole,
but it will be hard enough just to survive down there because it's
such a brutal environment. That's why I'll be taking some hi-tech
gadgets. But 100 years ago, the options available to Scott were far
fewer. These items that you can see in front of me now were actually
part of Scott's expedition to the Antarctic. You can see them for
yourselves at the Natural History Museum in the New Year and Lou is
from the museum. These are so precious that I can't handle them,
but you can. These boots, if you tip them over for us, you can see
on the bottom, they look a little like football boots. You are
handling that so delicately. They look like football boots because
the studs would have helped Scott and his men grip on the ice. He was
pulling a big sled so that could have dragged him backwards but with
the studs, it meant he could move forwards. These boots here are made
of caribou fur. Lots of people still say it's the best thing to
use in conditions like the Antarctic, animal fur. These
goggles, to me I kind of think they are comical because I thought the
silver lid would be taken off, I thought you could hardly see
through those, but they would have been worn exactly like that and the
slits used just to look through. They are different to my goggles, I
have a bigger vie zor which means a lot of my face will be covered so
my skin, fingers crossed, should be protected from the elements. Down
here, we can see a gorgeous and very warm sleeping bag. This is
made out of animal fur. I'm not going to be taking one like this,
I'm going to be taking something a lot more hi-tech with a big hood
that will wrap around my head. As well as kit, food is going to be
crucial if this expedition is going to be a success. In the cold
conditions, you burn more calories and I'm going to be using a lot of
energy pulling that sled along. So, I'll be eating a main meal in the
form of this - dehydrated food which is basically food that's had
all the water taken out of it so that it's lighter and easier to
carry. I'll empty the contents of that into a pan, add some snow or
ice then melt it on a little stove. It will turn out a bit like this.
Now, I have to be honest, it doesn't look that appetising, but I
bet it tastes a lot nicer than the Pemmican which is what Scott was
eating. It's basically ground up meat with a bit of fat in and he
too would have added snow and ice to turn it into a stew. You can see
I only have one piece of cutlery because I have to be careful about
the amount of items I take, I need the sled to be light. I'll be
taking a spoon, fork and knife in one. Scott would have eaten a lot
of biscuits and snacked on them throughout the day to keep his
energy levels up and I too will be snacking throughout the day. This
table is the amount of snacks I will be having in one day alone. I
have some very fatty foods because I need to get a lot of energy out
of a little amount of food so I'm not carrying tens and tens of
chocolate bars. I'll be eating nuts, cheese, chocolate and dried food.
As well as that, I'll be drinking lots of tea and hot chocolate to
keep me warm, safe and well. But the big news is, I'm leaving
tomorrow! I'm not coming back until the start of February. There's
going to be a special map on the Blue Peter website so you can see
how many miles I'm hopefully covering each day. If you head over
to the message boards after this programme, you will be able to let
me mow what you think about this expedition. It's impossible for me
to say whether I'm excited or inner vous because one minute I think
that this is the biggest and best adventure I could ever be wish to
be part of, the next I'm so intimidated I could cry just
thinking about it -- excited or nervous. I owe a lot of people a
huge thank you for getting me this far. And this isn't just my journey,
it's all of ours, so stick with me and fingers crossed, I'll be able
to join you on the first show of the New Year live from the
Antarctic on the 12th January. There's also going to be a special
Helen reveals her Sport Relief challenge for 2012. She has already completed an ultramarathon in Namibia, kayaked down the Amazon and walked on a high wire over Battersea Power Station - so what will she be doing in 2012? One clue: will it involve going to the end of the Earth?