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I kayaked 2,000 miles along the Amazon.
I walked a high wire between the chimneys at Battersea Power Station.
And in December 2011,
I embarked on my most demanding expedition to date,
a 500-mile trek to the South Pole
by kite, by ski, and, in a world first, by bike.
My legs - ow!
It was most the incredible journey of my life, and this is my story.
Six months ago, my Sport Relief Challenge started here,
in the shanty towns of Sierra Leone in Africa.
I saw for myself how tough life is for these children.
But with the money that you raise,
Sport Relief is doing vital work to help them.
My visit spurred me on, and for the last five months I've put myself
through the most gruelling training.
I've had to prepare physically and mentally
for my epic 500-mile challenge.
This is the most unpleasant experience of my life.
All my training is about to be put to the test
as I arrive in the world's biggest freezer.
Finally, we're here in Antarctica.
I have my most unusual Christmas - in a tent.
I don't want to moan, but who gives someone a Christmas pudding that you need to microwave?
And we're finally off.
Niklas, my team-mate, and I begin our 500-mile journey
to the South Pole.
My journey to Antarctica will take a few days.
You can't fly there directly, so first, I fly 6,000 miles
to Cape Town in the Republic of South Africa.
Welcome to South Africa, welcome to Cape Town.
This is where we'll do our final preparations
before we catch our flight on to Antarctica.
This is the kit room, where we lay out everything we need to take with us.
It's not like going on holiday. You don't take bits and bobs that you want.
I can only take things that I actually need.
Most important is the kit.
It's a really brutal environment, so I've got to wear specific clothing.
Every day I will have to wear thermals,
thermal long johns and a thermal top.
I'll also have to wear big, thick socks.
On top of my long johns, I'm going to out some outer trousers
so they should keep the wind off and keep me nice and warm.
Over my body, I'm going to wear a gilet.
Next up, it's my outer jacket and as you can see, I've got a big, fluffy fur ruff there.
On top of that, I am going to put my big boots.
These boots need to be used
for kite-skiing, cross-country skiing and cycling.
Hopefully, these boots are going to be able to do all three.
Next up, it is some big, thick mitts
and I also need a pair of goggles because it's so bright down there
you can actually damage your eyes.
And last but not least,
I am wearing this almost scary-looking face mask.
But it is a must, to protect my face, my lips and my nose from the elements.
'I'm hoping to reach the South Pole with my Norwegian team-mate Niklas.
'Our next job is to sort out and bag up the mountain of food
'we'll need to eat to keep our energy levels up in Antarctica.'
-Do you even like oxtail soup?
-I haven't tried it.
'We're taking the contents out of their packets and wrappers
'to save on space and weight.'
We're doing our final preparations, packing up everything we're going to eat for the next few weeks.
There aren't many supermarkets or restaurants in Antarctica,
so it's not as if we can say, "Oh, I fancy a pizza tonight,"
and phone up for one.
We have to decide here and now
what we're going to eat for the next few weeks
and we've got to carry it with us that means it has to be light
and it also need to be able to last.
We don't want food that will go off, so we're taking lots of dried fruit,
plenty of sweets, chocolate, and this, which is dried meat.
'Food is a massively important part of our expedition.
'Because of the extreme cold,
'we'll have to consume up to 6,000 calories a day
'to give us the energy we'll need to complete the challenge.'
We'll have an evening meal and breakfast in the tent,
but we can't be cooking in the day
so all we'll be eating is sweets and chocolate.
The South Pole, where I'm heading,
was reached for the first time 100 years ago,
first by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen
on 14 December 1911.
A month later, Britain's Captain Robert Falcon Scott arrived,
on 17 January 1912.
Tragically, on Scott's expedition, they didn't carry enough food
with them for the return journey,
meaning they all died, cold and hungry.
Even here in Cape Town, his heroic journey is commemorated
by this memorial.
I am so touched by the fact that some descendents of Scott
e-mailed me to say, "Go for it," you know, "We hope you do well."
That, for me, was just brilliant.
The next time you see me, I will be on a plane heading to Antarctica.
It's been called one of the most brutal places on Earth
but it's going to be my home for over a month.
For Christmas, for New Year, and into February.
This is the plane that is going to be carrying us down to Antarctica
and it's totally different to the type of plane you get on
when you go on holiday.
There aren't any windows down the side, so I can't look out,
and that's because it's a cargo plane.
It doesn't normally transport people, so they had to chuck a few extra seats on.
On the flight with me are scientists, workers
and a group of adventurers also trying to reach the South Pole.
The flight from Cape Town will take around five hours.
We're heading to Novo,
a Russian airbase on the continent's northern outreaches.
Antarctica is the world's fifth-largest continent.
It's roughly 58 times the size of the UK.
It's also officially the coldest, the windiest
and the driest place on Earth.
In some places, it hasn't rained for almost two million years.
The average temperature in summer is minus 27,
dropping to minus 60 in winter.
Antarctica is the world's most hostile and dangerous environment.
And I'm just moments away from setting foot on the ice.
My first glimpse of the frozen continent
was as we landed, on the big screen.
I'm so impressed with the Russian pilots.
They landed here in Antarctica on sheet ice.
Imagine trying to park a car on this or park your bike,
you just couldn't.
But I am relieved to finally be here in Antarctica.
Feels like it's on now, doesn't it?
This might look like an ice rink, but it's actually the runway.
We should have got here a few days ago but there was a massive storm
which covered this whole landing strip in snow.
Winds were over 120 mph, but that died down
and we were able to fly in.
We're camping here for tonight only.
It is daylight, but it's 24 hours of daylight in Antarctica.
So it looks like it's first thing in the morning,
but it's actually time for me to go to bed. So, good night.
First night in the Antarctic was not too bad, it wasn't that cold.
I haven't quite managed to find a comfortable sleeping position yet,
it is a bit like sleeping on an ice cube.
It's weird that it's light all night.
You wake up and think it must be time to get up, and it's two o'clock in the morning.
That's the most bizarre thing.
I've got the stove going, some breakfast is cooking away slowly
so, at the minute, all is good.
Before our 500-mile challenge for Sport Relief begins,
we have just over a week to get used to living in this alien environment.
Our preparation and training week will also give us
the chance to thoroughly test the three modes of transport
we're hoping to use to get to the South Pole.
Kiting and skiing have been used here before,
but no-one has ever tried getting there on a bike.
Today, we're going to ride our specially-made ice bikes
for the very first time.
I'm nervous to see if they'll actually work.
The last time I was near a bike like this, I had a go on sand,
and it was so difficult that I ended the day in tears and I thought,
"This is ridiculous, it's not going to work."
But I'd said I was going to do it
so I knew I had to go for it and give it a go.
I didn't know deep down if it was going to work.
It's not easy, it's not going to be plain sailing,
but it is working and it is moving forwards,
so that is a huge weight off my shoulders.
It's Christmas Day and it really is a white Christmas for the team.
I'm up nice and early, doing an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.
Where are you, Helen, exactly?
I am at 71 degrees south.
'And they have a cracker of surprise for me.'
'Hiya, Helen, how are you?'
'Are you all right?'
Hello, Mum! You all right?
'Yeah, I'm good.'
I didn't think I'd miss everybody, but I really do.
'Is it like you expected out there or is it a bit tougher?'
I really didn't think I'd be as homesick as I've been
but I kept thinking last night about everything we do.
I love you dearly and I'll make you proud.
'You'll be fine, we have every confidence.
'There'll be tough days but I know you can do it.
'You'll be absolutely fine.'
I didn't think I'd miss home at all.
Then I heard my mum and I just started crying.
I don't what it is but Christmas makes you so sentimental.
And I think I'm at a point in my life now where I appreciate my family more than ever.
Messages from kids and support from home
is what gets you through things like this.
It's now true more than ever.
But this is Antarctica, where every day is the same,
so it's back to work and back to training.
Niklas and I are cross-country skiing today,
pulling our sledges over 15 miles of snow and ice to the next camp.
I've never covered this distance wearing skis,
so it's going to be like no other Christmas Day I've ever experienced.
After only eight miles, there's a problem.
You've already developed a blister about the size of a 20p piece.
If we left this on its own, it would just get worse.
By the end of today you'd end up with a raw patch on your foot,
which is only ever going to get better when we get home.
We set off cross-country skiing, it was all going fine, bright, blue skies, lovely day.
Thought it would be a good idea to stop and check our feet, and my feet are cracked.
Half a day's skiing and already I've had to be seen by the doctor.
Unfortunately, Helen's feet have got problems.
That's really related to the type of footwear she's wearing.
She's wearing kite-skiing boots, great for kite-skiing, but she's doing normal skiing in them
so the friction, the movement of her foot, is causing blisters to start already.
We need to try and stop that getting worse, which is what we've done.
She asked me to come and look at her feet, and we've taped them up.
We are going to bicycle, kite-ski
and walk, and if we had special kit,
the best kit for each of those three sports,
we wouldn't be able to move at all.
I'd like to say it's not going to jeopardise what we're attempting to do, but potentially it could.
One of the commonest reasons people have to give up in this environment
is their feet.
If her feet totally break down and are too uncomfortable to walk on, she may have to give up.
Having one pair of boots to save on weight
has given me blisters after only a few hours.
It's the not start I was looking for.
So I'm more than happy to give my feet a rest
and get some practice on our third mode of transport,
I know there's going to be highs and lows, and this is a high.
This morning, I was just sick of all the clothes and all the gear
and doing everything in the cold,
but once you get going on the kites, it's such an amazing feeling.
'Christmas Day 2011 will definitely be one to remember,
'but probably for all the things that went wrong.'
I developed rather a loose stomach.
In other words, I've needed to use the toilet for number twos
about six times today, and that's not that easy
when you don't have a toilet,
you're wearing three layers of clothing and a harness.
I don't want to moan, but who gives someone a Christmas pudding
that you need to microwave
when they're living in a tent in Antarctica?
That's rubbing salt in the wounds!
So as Christmas Days go, not necessarily one I'm keen to repeat.
Slept a little bit, but obviously, as you can tell,
it's really windy, so didn't sleep too much, and look at the door.
That is snow.
Antarctica is home to some of the windiest places in the world.
The highest-ever recorded wind speed was 154 mph.
Right now, our camp is being battered by winds of 70 mph.
We have been in the same campsite for two days,
because the weather is so bad that basically,
we've been snowed in to our own campsite.
I've come inside the truck to try and show you what it's like.
You can imagine, it's so wet and wild out there,
I can't use the camera outside.
Can you see that green little dome?
That is the tent in which our camera crew is buried.
Don't worry, they're fine and well, but they're snowed in.
Look, that's their tent.
'With the storm finally over, it's time get on the move again.
'As part of our preparation,
'we have to travel about 80 miles in the next five days.
'Niklas and I are keen to practise all three modes of transport
'to see what works best. We're back on the bikes,
'but the real test is whether they can tow all our equipment.
'Not a great start...'
'..but at least I'm moving.'
As you can see, this is not that easy.
When your tyre's inflated, you can't get any grip on the ice.
This is quite depressing.
I was so excited earlier, because I thought,
"Yes, the bikes are going to work,"
and yeah, they work, but it's so slow.
We're slower than we are cross-country skiing.
And it's exhausting.
'Our trip to the South Pole
'is being made with a film crew and support trucks,
'so to see if we can make better progress,
'we call in a favour from the crew.'
-Go ahead, Helen.
We're wondering if there's any chance we can give you the sledges,
because we're worried we won't make the distance at this rate.
OK, we'll come and get you. Stay where you are.
We'll bring the truck in, OK?
I know this probably looks like we're chickening out,
but we're still trying to work out what we can do when,
so until we know how fast we can go, we can't really make a plan.
So hopefully, without the sleds, we can make some more distance.
With our sledges safely tied to the truck
and with no more weight behind us,
we started to make real progress.
Woo-hoo! That is so much easier, isn't it?
We're here to get to the South Pole under our own steam,
so we've got bikes, kites and skis.
We could cycle and drag our sleds behind us the whole way,
but we'll run out of time,
cos we can only do about 10km a day, so it would take us for ever.
So, ultimately, we need to work out
the quickest and most efficient way of getting there.
If that means putting stuff on the trucks,
asking the camera crew to carry some of our bags, then so be it.
-But the name of the game is to get there.
That's what this acclimatisation is for,
just to get wiser on what possibilities we have
and which one is the best for this expedition.
'For the rest of our training, we park the bikes,
'knowing they can be used to cover distance,
'but they can't carry all our kit.
'For the next couple of days there's no wind,
'so all we can do is practise our cross-country skiing.'
We are having to walk.
The method that we said we would do least,
and we're least prepared for,
has turned into the thing we're doing all the time.
'But all the cross-country skiing is taking its toll.'
I feel like when I take these boots off,
I'm going to be pouring blood out.
My feet are killing me.
'Once we're in camp, I ask Dr Ian to come and look at my feet again.'
That is... That's quite impressive.
I'd almost certainly, tomorrow, suggest that we pop her in a vehicle
and transport her forward so that she can sit for a couple of days
and relax and rest, especially her feet,
before we fly to the start line.
'Under doctor's orders, I rest.'
The challenge is only a couple of days away,
so I'd be stupid not to take his advice.
Come on, let's go.
'So I grab a ride,
'to cover the final leg of our training, to a makeshift runway,
'where we then catch a flight.
'We need to fly forward to the start line,
'as we're still over 1,000 miles away from the South Pole.
'Getting this flight means my epic Sport Relief trek
'is finally about to get under way.
'I'm now on the plateau in the central part of Antarctica.
'Between here and the South Pole
'lies nothing but 500 miles of snow and ice.
'This is going to be one of the toughest journeys of my life.'
Right here, right now, on the starting line, I'm just excited.
I just want to get on with it,
I feel that we're on the verge of something difficult
but rewarding, and, yeah, we're as ready as we will ever be.
'But my final job, I need to make a plan.
'We have 500 miles to cover.
'I want to try and do that in 20 days.
'So if I divide 500 by 20,
'that gives me 25 miles a day.
'but we won't know what's possible until we start.'
-Five! Four! Three! Two! One!
And we're off, we're moving!
'And we're off. Our epic journey to the South Pole has finally started.
'We're each pulling a sledge with our essential kit -
'food, stoves, tents, sleeping bags.
'The rest of our equipment is being carried on board the support truck.'
Aaah! That is the annoying stuff.
It gets under your back wheel and you just cannot move. Oh!
My legs are absolutely burning. It is exhausting, isn't it?
-It is. It is.
-It's really exhausting.
-Niklas, you love that bike, don't you?
-I hate the bike!
No, it's fun to see that we're actually managing to move,
but for me as a Norwegian,
it's a bit strange to be bicycling in good winds from behind
with the kites in the sled.
-You're going to love the bikes by the end of this, love them!
'And for now the kites will stay in the sledges,
'because I'm determined to use the bikes.
'Although it's hard work, we are covering the miles, albeit slowly.'
Aaah, my legs!
'We're going less than two miles an hour.'
We've been going for about 45 minutes.
I feel like we've been going all day. It is exhausting.
Once you get going, on a bit of hard snow,
it's all right for a few pedals.
But then you hit soft snow,
and your back wheel just grinds to a halt.
It's going to be hard to do this all day,
and I'm so relieved that we've got the two other methods of transport.
'Apart from the slow progress,
'one of the other problems is that my hands
'are staying in the same position for hours on end.
'They're getting colder and colder due to the temperature,
'which is around minus 20.
'That's two degrees colder than the freezer in your house.'
My hands are freezing!
Let's warm up my hands.
I'm exhausted already.
'But I'm not the only one.
'Niklas is, too,
'and he's adopted a very unusual way of riding his bike -
'with his head.'
Is that really comfier? Are you that tired? It is really tiring.
I've been trying to get my head round why it's much more difficult
than walking, or it feels more difficult.
When you're walking, or here when you're skiing,
you can put more onto the ground, you've got your skis,
so you've got more surface area to push off.
With the bikes, we've got a tiny bit of wheel to hit the ground
to push off, so we've got put a lot of energy into that tiny bit of tyre
in order to propel forward. It's very complicated.
'Niklas must be dreaming of his kites.
'After all, the flying conditions are perfect.'
I know Niklas hates the bikes, but I'm determined to use them,
and we're using them for a reason.
The reason is that I am stubborn and trying to prove a point.
'But I may end up regretting that decision if this turns out
'to be the only day that we get perfect kite-flying weather
'the whole trip.'
It's five o'clock. We've been going since 9:45am, 9:50am.
Yes, we are tired. Our legs and lungs are burning.
Yeah, it's a faff getting a drink because you've got mitts on.
Oh, my word, this is hard.
Do you think we could do 15, 16
and make up the ten miles on the kites tomorrow?
If we have the same wind as today, we would be able to do that.
We should probably not push it too hard the first day.
-Let's go for 15.
'We're going to be ten miles short of our target on the first day,
'but I don't think we could have done any more.'
Done! Day one complete.
What makes this a bit more difficult is, at the start and end of each day,
you take down the tent and then you put up the tent,
so we've got a tent each to put up,
then we've got to dig some snow, melt the snow,
boil the water, eat some food, and all that takes a bit of time.
It's full-on, this, isn't it?
Why don't I think these things through?!
We've got a mountain still to climb, but I'm feeling good,
I'm feeling positive.
I have to be upbeat and I have to believe I can do this.
Right, I'm going to go to bed.
'I try to sleep, knowing we're already behind.
'Still, a lot can happen over the remaining 485 miles.
'And if you've been inspired by my challenge,
'why don't you go the extra mile
'and get involved in Sport Relief this year?
'Get a grown-up and sign up to do the Sport Relief mile.
'There are hundreds around the country, and by raising money,
'you can help poor and vulnerable people
'in the UK and around the world.
'Next time, Niklas gets his way...'
We are going to try and kite
and make up the mileage that we lost yesterday.
'..I surprise everyone,
'including myself, when I attempt to set a new world record...'
'..and I find out that I'm not looking after myself properly.'
This orangey-looking liquid is actually my wee,
and that means that I'm dehydrated and I'm not drinking enough.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd