Fiona Thornewill – Polar Explorer

Fiona Thornewill was a housewife who dreamed of walking to the South Pole solo, a journey of more than 900 miles. This was a huge physiological challenge, with daily energy needs equivalent to riding the Tour of Italy, Tour De France and Tour of Spain consecutively, without rest days! What made this challenge even more remarkable was the walk was completely unsupported. This meant all the polar nutrition and other provisions for the 6 week trip had to be pulled on a 285 lb (130kg) sled.

Fiona Thornewill pulling the sled with all her polar nutrition supplies for a 6 week walk

Fiona Thornewill pulling the sled with 6 weeks of polar nutrition supplies

To help with this unique challenge Fiona Thornewill turned to the expertise of the the Elite Sport Group (ESG). Although we had a proven track record in endurance sports we had never done any previous work on polar nutrition, or polar exploration. Based on our detailed knowledge of metabolism and endurance physiology we developed a bespoke polar nutrition supplement program. This reduced the physiological stress of the walk by preventing vitamin and mineral deficiencies, combating oxidative injury, reducing muscle damage and maintaining muscle performance.

After a 42 day trek Fiona reached the South Pole on the 10th January, beating her rival Rosie Stancer in the process. The previous men’s record was 44 days, and the previous best for a woman was 50 days, which was held by the Norwegian Liv Arneson. Fiona set a world record pace reaching the Geographic South Pole in just 41 days 8 hours and 14 minutes. What made this achievement even more remarkable was she lost her satellite navigation system10 days into the walk!

ESG provided polar nutrition and supplement services for Fiona Thornewill's South Pole solo walk

Fiona Thornewill- Reaching the South Pole successfully in record time !

In recognition of Fiona’s achievements in Polar exploration she received the following awards:-

  • 2004: European Woman of Achievement.
  • 2004: Royal Institute of Navigation – Achievement Award.
  • 2004: Explorers Web – Best expedition of 2004.
  • 2004: Midlander Of The Year.
  • 2005 : MBE

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