Swansea University experts prepare Greenland team for world record attempt

Swansea University experts are supporting the team members of 65 Degrees North to ensure their success as they train for the world’s first unsupported crossing by an amputee of the 600 km Greenland ice cap, in aid of Help for Heroes.

The aim is to help ensure that 65 Degrees North have the best possible chance of accomplishing this tremendous and inspiring expedition.

The 65 Degrees North team includes Peter Bowker, an amputee from the recent conflict in Afghanistan, along with four colleagues, including former Special Forces personnel. The team will be conducting the unsupported crossing on skis, pulling pulks weighing up to 300lbs containing their food, clothing and survival equipment.

The route is around 600 km from Kangerlussuaq in the west to Kulusuk in the east, through polar bear infested land and temperatures as low as -37°c.

On the team’s second visit to the University ahead of the expedition in May, they were met by an array of Swansea University experts from Sports Science, Biosciences and Engineering.

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Pictured (l-r) Pete Bowker & Dr Meinir Jones (65 Degrees North); Dr Steve Mellalieu, Dr Liam Kilduff, Dr Melitta McNarry and Dr Kelly Mackintosh (Swansea University sports science)

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The University is offering support with the team’s physical and mental fitness, nutritional care and sleep pattern monitoring, all of which are key factors in their overall success during the rigorous 20-day trek.

Peter Bowker emphasised the importance of thorough preparation:

“I have spent three and a half years in rehab so I know the struggles I will face if this doesn’t go to plan. It is an extremely high risk mission. But we feel safe in the experts’ hands.  We have a great support team for us all the way”.

The Sports Science specialists helping the adventurers include: Dr Melitta McNarry and Dr Kelly MacKintosh, who are monitoring the team’s fitness, and Dr Steve Mellalieu, who is helping the team prepare for the mental exhaustion they will face,

Dr Steve Mellalieu said:

“The team has the fitness, now we need to build their mental strength. The team need to fuse as a collective to get through incredibly harsh terrains. They will need to learn to individually cope with severe conditions, monotonous routines and the unexpected”.

400 x 342World-renowned expert on animal tracking, Professor Rory Wilson from Swansea University’s College of Science is offering the team support in a groundbreaking way – by tagging them!  The team will carry tiny electronic tags masked in silastic protection that will allow their heart rate and stress levels to be monitored from the University.  

The tags, only 27mm across, were developed by Dr Mark Holton from the College of Engineering.  Professor Wilson says that the tags mean that “we will be looking after them on every step and at every turn”.

Picture:  Prof Rory Wilson (centre) and Dr Mark Holton (right) with one of the tracking tags that Pete Bowker (left) and team will wear

Associate Professor Liam Kilduff, from Applied Sports Technology, Exercise and Medicine (A-STEM) within the College of Engineering at Swansea University, director of WEPSIN, and one of the patrons of 65 Degrees North, said:
“We’re delighted to be supporting the team at 65 Degrees North.   Making sure our research has an impact on real-life problems is a priority for us, and our work with the team is testament to that.”

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Interviews and reporting by Chloe Melrose, PR team