Many choose to spend the holidays relaxing at home, but not British adventurist Maria Leijerstam–this 35 year-old former management consultant just broke two world records by becoming the first person to cycle to the South Pole in record time. Leijerstam, who battled freezing Antarctic temperatures and whiteouts, beat out her two male rivals on a modified three-wheeled recumbent trike. She completed her grueling 500 mile ride from the edge of the Antarctic continent in just 10 days.
For the past two years, Leijerstam has been meticulously planning and training with a team of experts to prepare herself for the polar expedition. The adventurist, who has previously completed the Marathon des Sables seven day run across the Sahara, retrained her metabolism to burn fat rather than carbohydrates by training on an empty stomach. As Leijerstam pedaled to the bottom of the world, she battled zero visibility blizzards, snow drifts and crevasses.
Leijerstam used a modified recumbent trike manufactured by Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE) for greater stability in 100 mph winds. The steadier trike also afforded her the opportunity to take on shorter and steeper routes. She and her two rivals, American Daniel Burton and Spaniard Juan Menendez Granados, set off across the Antarctic continent from the Novo Russian air force base on December 16, 2013.
Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole in 1911 using two six-and-a-half foot long skis.
Images via Maria Leijerstam