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University of Warwick helps Polar explorer in his bid for glory

Polar explorer Mark Wood has set his sights on making history by completing the toughest journey on earth with the help of the University of Warwick.In November he embarks on a mission to become the first person to successfully complete the North South Solo expedition, skiing unsupported and unaided to both the North and South Poles – back to back.Mark’s preparations have been boosted by staff at the University of Warwick who are helping him get ready for the gruelling challenge.The experienced polar explorer, born and bred in Coventry, is working with University of Warwick personal trainer Russell Boorer to get his fitness levels up to the required standard and Mark has also been granted free access to the Sports Centre on the University’s main campus.Russell has designed a high intensity, endurance and strength programme for Mark which takes in exhausting one and two hour sessions in the gym, using treadmills and rowers before Mark has to run up and down the length of Gibbet Hill Road.And Mark is grateful for the help he is receiving as he tries to conquer a lifelong ambition, which he hopes completes in March next year.  In November Mark will set off on the first leg of the incredible journey – a 700-mile solo unassisted haul to the Geographic South Pole – an eight week trek across the coldest place on Earth.Once completed he will fly to Canada for a three week transitional period before continuing to ski solo to the Geographic  North Pole – spending 65 days crossing floating sea ice in the most densely populated polar bear region of the planet.He said: “Over the years I have learned how to move and survive in the polar wilderness, you could say I’ve served as an apprentice on the ice and know I am at the point where I need to test myself with this ultimate challenge.“A high level of fitness is vital and I am lucky to have been offered Russell’s help, who is only happy when I am screaming out in pain. The University has also offered me a dietician, psychologist to help me cope with the mental strain of being alone in the wilderness and a physiotherapist to undo all the pain Russell is causing me!”Mark and Russell started working on the fitness plan four months ago and over the next six months the schedule will be intensified – when the Coventry explorer is not off on another expedition.Last month the 43-year-old spent 30 days on his own in the Svalbard to test all of his equipment and experience being on his own in the vast void of the Arctic Circle.With just over half a year to go until Mark sets off on the North South Solo expedition, his personal trainer Russell is already eager to see the explorer following his rigorous programme several times a week.“He is busy raising funds and getting support for his main trip in November, but I am in constant contact with him to keep him motivated and make sure he is following the fitness plan,” Russell added.“He has to be working on his specific programme at least four or five times a week. I text and email him, generally pester him to make sure he is doing enough training. It is great to get involved with a project like this, this kind of opportunity does not come along everyday and I get the chance to challenge myself to make sure I get Mark in the best condition possible.”Director of Sport and Physical Education at the University of Warwick, Terry, Monnington said:  “When Mark approached us to see if we could help him in anyway, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. It is great experience for Russell to train someone for this kind of event and really exciting to do something out of the ordinary.”Mark is currently seeking sponsorship from local companies to help him purchase new equipment worth £12,500.

For more information about the North South Solo expedition or to sponsor Mark log on to

Notes to editorsPhotos of Mark Wood training with Russell Boorer are available online at

Contact details for Mark can be found on his website,

He is currently out of the country on a training expedition but is receiving emails.For more details contact Luke Hamer, Assistant Press Officer, University of Warwick on 02476 575601 or email