What were you doing on Christmas? Maria Leijerstam was trekking 500 miles across Antarctica on a high-tech tricycle, beating the two guys she was racing against to become the first person ever to cycle to the South Pole.
But I’m sure you had fun in your PJs.
The 35-year-old Welsh adventurer and former management consultant (someone make a movie about her, stat) started off on December 16th at the Novo Russian air force base and from there trekked through high winds, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures to the South Pole in just ten days. She beat the two other riders—Daniel Burton and Juan Menendez Granados—to the finish line by hundreds of miles, even though they started before her.
Leijerstam’s victory comes in part because the custom recumbent tricycle she was using allowed her to take a shorter yet steeper path than the ones used by her competitors. She was scaling the Transarctic Mountains and the Leverett Glacier while Burton and Granados were trundling along on a mere two wheels apiece. Her choice of vehicle is evidence of the “meticulous planning, super fitness both physically and mentally, and pure determination” that Leijerstam mother Adrianne Leijerstam says is the cause of her daughter’s success.
According to Leijerstam the Elder, Maria’s BAMFitude came early:
“From the time she was 12 years old and announced she wanted to be an astronaut, Maria has always been an adventurer. We are thrilled she has made it in such good time.”
In addition to being the first person to cycle to the South Pole Leijerstam has also conquered the desert by participating in the The Marathon Des Sables, a seven-day footrace across the Sahara. I want her to be my best friend.