You could say Arctic explorer Ben Saunders is a bit extreme. He holds several records from his 2004 trek to the North Pole when he was 26. He became the third person ever to reach it on a solo ski mission, set the record as the youngest to do so, and secured the record for longest solo by a Brit. So, how does an endurance athlete like Saunders survive life in big-city London, which is decidedly short on wide-open spaces?
“As a professional athlete, I have such an unusual life in London,” Saunders maintains. And it’s pretty low-profile, he adds: He is happy hanging out with friends who are really in “this world”—meaning athletes, mountaineers, distance runners and entrepreneurs.
“I am amazed that I’ve lived here for 12 years. But it’s the best possible place for the corporate and commercial side of what I do. I travel a lot doing speaking work and events for sponsors, and London is a really good hub,” Saunders says. When he gets “twitchy,” as he calls it, it’s very easy for him to get away from the city for some fresh air, too.
His family is both like Ben Saunders—and not. His only sibling, a brother, is also an adventurous adult. “He lives in the Swiss Alps, so we ski together. We’ll cycle and run, too.”
How did his mom end up with two daredevils? The polar explorer says he’s not sure, because “she’s not into any of this stuff.”
He’s always had an itch for adventure—and it has run through his blood since his teenage years when he lived and played in the English countryside. The timeline’s quick (and you can dive into Saunders’ full story on SUCCESS.com). Saunders, as a teen, picked up mountain biking, discovered a ‘dream big’ attitude, worked at an adventure school, learned from experienced mentors and, finally, started exploring. It all spiraled into a passion for the extreme, which is quite different from the corporate side of his life in London.
And, right now, he’s on a mission (along with his partner) to be the first to accomplish the longest “unsupported” completion of that Terra Nova Expedition.
SUCCESS was able to “catch up” with Saunders on his trek to pick his brain:
“Our preparation has paid off. The many training sessions across all four corners of the UK and beyond in my Land Rover have put us in the best possible position physically,” he says. “We’re also really happy with the way our equipment is performing. Other than a couple of minor repairs on the Beardmore Glacier, our technical gear remains in good condition, and Intel’s latest technology that we’re using to send back the daily blogs and several video clips (live at YouTube.com/scottexpedition) has been performing brilliantly.
And he dished some highlights from the expedition thus far: “The moment we reached the top of the Gateway’s col revealing a stunning view across to Mount Kyffin and the giant, sparkling motorway of the Beardmore Glacier is one of the defining moments of the expedition so far, and one I’ll treasure forever,” he says. “As is stepping into Scott’s Terra Nova Hut at Cape Evans at the very start. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more moments before the journey’s end, though.”