A MOTHER-OF-FOUR from Monmouthshire is preparing to set off on a gruelling adventure in an attempt to become a world record holder for an extreme endurance challenge in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

Polar adventurer Wendy Searle, 45, will attempt to become the fastest woman to ski solo and unassisted from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole.

Ms Searle, who lives in Penallt, sets off in December, aiming to complete the 715-mile ‘She Who Dares’ expedition in fewer than 38 days.

In 2020 she became only the seventh woman ever to cover the distance, recording a time of 42 days, 16hrs, 23mins.

As part of her efforts, she raised money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the Youth Adventure Trust.

This time she is fundraising on behalf of Women In Sport.

As recently as six years ago, Ms Searle lived, in her own words, “a very ordinary life” with her young family and had no ambition to visit Antarctica or to pursue such a physically and mentally demanding endeavour.

However, after managing the media campaign of a polar expedition by Army Reservists, she became hooked on the idea of a “big adventure” and testing whether someone with no experience could attempt something similarly daring.

Following a lengthy fundraising campaign and powered by a gruelling training regime, Ms Searle proved her instincts right when she reached the finish line in 2020.

Now a professional expedition manager and guide, she hopes her 2022 expedition will inspire more women to push their limits.

“I’m dead-set on reminding women, and mothers in particular, of the huge benefits of saying yes to things outside their comfort zone and of doing things they might have put off because a career or family came first," she said.

"I started setting myself smaller challenges and soon came to realise I could do more than I thought, then the momentum really built and I ended up at the start line of this extraordinary journey.

"While I’m not expecting a groundswell of women to start skiing to the South Pole, if I can persuade someone to go for that run they’ve been putting off, to apply for their dream job, to book their holiday of a lifetime, to try something new, whatever it is, then I’ll feel like I’ve shared some of that expedition magic with everyone else.”

In the coming months, Ms Searle must condition her body for the extreme cold - temperatures will dip as low as -35 degrees even before wind chill is factored in - and the punishing routine of covering 17 nautical miles a day while towing all her supplies in a specially designed sledge, called a pulk.

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To replicate the pulk’s 80kg weight, she regularly embarks on lengthy tyre-hauling sessions in the Welsh countryside.

“The training is a massive commitment,” she said.

“My whole thing is about consistency, I was average at sport at school, I wasn’t great at anything really but with a consistent approach, I’ve been able to make big gains.

"The physical preparation is huge but it’s definitely within reach if you’re prepared to work at it every day."

Being alone in the wilderness for such an extended period of time will also be a test of Ms Searle’s mental fortitude.

“The only way that I can really get my head around the length of the journey, the number of hours I’ve got to ski, is actually not to think about it in that totality," she said.

"If I do, it’s too much to compute. I have to break everything down into manageable chunks.”

Ms Searle will undertake her challenge with the support of Compeed.

Compeed marketing director Kate Evans said: “As soon as we heard about Wendy’s record attempt we wanted to get involved with the expedition, especially as she’s such a loyal supporter of our brand.

"We think she’s an inspiration to all those who want to embrace life, something Compeed blister plasters have been helping people do for more than four decades."