5 min with Gareth and Richard

What does having a team supporting and around you, mean to you

Having a management and performance team means everything to us. We would never have got this far without their enthusiasm and passion for the project and we’re humbled by the dedication they have shown. There are so many elements to our team and all our team members bring individual expertise to the areas they’re working on.

This team is the difference between success and failure. An expedition such as this is an incredibly complex undertaking and when you’re pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible nothing can be left to chance. Having dedicated experts working on the TLGF team mean that every possible aspect is scrutinised and optimised

When we are finally on the ice in Antarctica we will be safe in the knowledge that we are being looked after from our basecamp back home and it will be up to Rich and I to reward them for all their efforts by successfully crossing the continent.

Its not only about the team on the ice physically hauling the pulks, how do you choose the support team you have and what do they mean to you

There are many elements to this project as we have mentioned. Broadly speaking, The Last Great First has the ‘Expedition Team’ and the ‘Management and Performance Team’. The expedition team is comprised of Rich and I, the team hauling pulks on the ice. The management and performance team, arguably the more important and most influential element of the project, is overseen by our Expedition Chairman, Mark Richardson, and is comprised of world experts in the fields of polar exploration, strength and conditioning, dietetics, media and fundraising.

As the expedition planning has developed, we have gradually brought in more members of the Management and Performance Team to fill each key role. Each member brings not only the highly specialised expert knowledge that we need but also a passion for Antarctica and the drive to make TLGF a success.

How did the two of you end up together, what’s your expedition history and why do you work well together.

I always knew by girlfriend’s brother was a good guy; running ultramarathons and adventuring all over the world. I didn’t know Gareth well at this point as his sister Laura and I were living in the UK and Gareth was in Sydney. I distinctly remember listening in to a video call between Laura and Gareth after we’d moved to New Zealand back in 2012 where Gareth mentioned he want to take part in a race to the Magnetic North Pole and needed a teammate. My ears pricked up and I interrupted by leaning over Laura’s shoulder and saying “err, I’ll come!”. This marked the beginning of both a strong friendship and a strong expedition partnership.

On the Magnetic North Pole and on subsequent expeditions all over the world we have found that Gareth and I share a very similar attitude to expedition life; a combination of sharing the joy of being in such wild and beautiful lands with a drive to endure harsh and unrelenting conditions to get the task done. We bring mutually complimentary skill sets and most of all, we know we can live together in a small tent surrounded by nothing but extreme wilderness, entirely depended on our own skills to survive, for weeks on end.

How involved are your families in expedition life and as part of TLGF team

We try and involve our families as much as possible in all our expeditions. They joined us in Husavik after our Icelandic adventure and we spent a few weeks chasing whales and Arctic Foxes around the Westfjords. It was also a chance for them to visit where we started and finished our journey, so we could share the experience with them.

We have planned the year ahead to involve our families as much as possible. Our children come walking with us as we train on the beaches and often sit on our tyres as we drag them along. We’re also hoping that they will be able to join us in New Zealand and Australia on our training expeditions. They’re still young but wouldn’t miss an opportunity to get out in the snow.

We recognise the huge impact this expedition will have on our families and we couldn’t do it without their support.