NEWPORT adventurer Richard Parks reached the South Pole earlier this morning.
The ex-Wales and Dragons star reached the pole at 5.24am BST, recording the fastest ever solo, unsupported journey to the pole by a Brit in history.
Mr Parks has taken just under 10 days off the existing British record, held by polar explorer Hannah McKeand, who in 2006 reached the pole in 39 days, 9 hours and 33 minutes.
After skiing a total of 366 hours, 1150km (715 miles) in 29 days and burning the calorific equivalent of two marathons a day completely alone, Mr Parks arrived at the South Pole and said: "I’m exhausted. Physically I am absolutely shattered, mentally I am frazzled, it is just a lot to take in. I have a lot of emotions bouncing around but I am happy, proud and grateful."
He said the final few kilometres approaching the Geographical South Pole marker and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station were just as tough as the previous 715 miles.
"I could see the station and I was only about 3km away," he said. "I literally was having to talk myself out of pitching my tent with every step, I just didn’t think I could put another foot in front of the other."
He arrived at the South Pole in temperatures of -24C and just under 3,000m in altitude, adding: “I don’t quite know how much weight I have lost, it feels pretty cold and I could probably do with a bit more body fat on me right now.”
Speaking yesterday Derek Parks, Richard's father spoke of his relief that his son was safe and was about to arrive at the pole.
"I’m aware that he is obviously shattered from our conversations, it has been very tough but we are immensely proud of his achievements as always and look forward to having him back home soon," he said.
Lee Parks, Richard's mother said yesterday: "I am very, very proud and pleased. What Richard is about to accomplish is absolutely brilliant. We can’t wait to have him home and plan to celebrate Christmas and New Year together as a family."
To complete an unsupported and unassisted solo journey in 30 days is just incredible, said Mr Parks' spokeswoman Tracy Pinder.
"Once again Richard has shown unwavering tenacity, bravery and athleticism to ski the kind of distances he has been putting in, and often in less than perfect conditions," she said.
"Any polar expedition in Antarctica is a brutal assault on the mind and body, but a solo, unsupported and unassisted journey takes something special and we are thrilled that he will record the fastest solo, unsupported and unassisted journey to the South Pole by a Brit in history.
"It's quite an amazing feat and after facing such a setback having to turn around and start the expedition all over again at the beginning, Richard has displayed the kind of mental strength and stamina of a true extreme environment athlete."
She said it has "meant the world" to the adventurer to have the whole of Wales behind him and to receive so many messages of support.
The expedition will be the subject of a Channel 5 TV series later in the year.
Mr Parks will now fly back to Union Glacier Base Camp in Antarctica and on to Punta Arenas in Chile.