This winter, professional ultra-athlete and Heliocare brand partner, Jenny Davis, will be taking part in her toughest challenge to date: skiing solo to the South Pole. Jenny aims to beat the current women’s record of 38 days, 23 hours and 5 minutes.
Having departed the UK on 11 November, Jenny will be spending a week in Chile before flying to the Antarctic. Then, from the basecamp at Union Glacier, she will travel to the recognised starting point, the Hercules Inlet. Here marks the start of 715 miles of skiing unassisted, hauling more than 80kgs of equipment and food.
Jenny has been in training for several years and has taken part in some of the world’s toughest extreme challenges to prepare, including the Marathon des Sables, the Ultra Gobi 400km race and climbing Mount Denali and Mount Vinson.
So how did it all begin?
“I was always an adventurous child,” Jenny told us. “We lived abroad, so I spent a lot of time playing in the rainforest. I have a very active family.” After moving back to the UK, she soon got into swimming, joining the Scotland team and taking part in triathlons. But what was next? “Ultramarathons,” Jenny smiled. “I went on a cycling holiday in Scotland’s west coast islands, and while we were looking for accommodation, I found a website about the first ever ultramarathon on the Isle of Tiree. It was a 35 mile marathon around the island. I took part the next day.”
Jenny’s love of ultramarathons was forged here: “It was great fun; a beautiful island, and the marathon finished with a ceilidh in the pub!”
This winter’s challenge is Jenny’s second attempt to reach the South Pole, having been evacuated after 22 days in 2018 when struck down with a bowel infection and peritonitis. Last year’s disappointment makes this year’s all the more momentous.
“This time round, I did have a bit of a mental block with visualising the South Pole,” Jenny admitted. However, with the help of mindfulness and meditation, she’s more than ready to go.
“Visualisation is a big part of my preparations. After last year’s event, I started reading into this type of preparation for professional athletes. I also use the app Calm to help practice mindfulness.”
And of course, one of the best ways for her to relax is walking their dog, Bexar the Viszla.
During the expedition, Jenny is able to send a form of text message, so there is a small element of contact. But surprisingly, the isolation won’t be her biggest challenge. “It’s actually pretty special. It’s so peaceful,” she said. “But the main challenge will be keeping my focus on the goal, and remembering why I’m doing this.”
Jenny admitted that being goal-focused is relatively easy in most endurance events, but the South Pole challenge takes it to a whole new level. “There will be extreme highs and extreme lows,” she said. “I need to keep remembering why I’m doing this.”
One of her biggest drivers for undertaking the challenge is to fundraise for Women in Sport and BBC’s Children in Need, promoting the participation of women and girls in sport and the great outdoors. As part of the South Pole expedition, she has also been appointed a Polar Ambassador by the government’s STEM initiative, encouraging and inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and environmentalists. Jenny is also an Ambassador for the Free to Run charity, which uses the power of sport to help females overcome the effects of conflict and discrimination.
This charity work is a perfect fit for Jenny, who fiercely supports the participation of women and girls in sport. This has always been so important to Jenny – running, in particular. “I love running,” Jenny said. “It’s so easy to grab your shoes and go. But I also do Barry’s Bootcamp and spin classes, so there is some off-plan training involved!” Jenny is always sure to allow herself sufficient recovery time within her strenuous schedule. “Both nutrition and recovery play important roles,” she said.
Jenny’s dedication to her fitness and health reaches beyond training, nutrition and recovery, however. Having grown up abroad, where high temperatures and outdoor sport were part of day to day life, skin health has always been high on her agenda. “I’ve always been conscious of caring for my skin and eyes,” she said. “I also do a lot of mountaineering, so I spend a lot of time outside and up high.”
Nowadays, Heliocare is a crucial step in Jenny’s skincare routine. Spending most of her time outdoors, Jenny experiences high levels of UVA, UVB, visible light and infrared-A exposure. But whether she is running, swimming, climbing or camping, she can trust in Heliocare’s high level protection.
“I discovered Heliocare three years ago, when I was in a skin clinic for a mole removal,” Jenny explained. “Heliocare was displayed along the front desk. My husband, who is a plastic surgeon in the British Army, felt it was the only sun protection worth using.”
While the tinted moisturiser is Jenny’s favourite product (she swears it smells like peaches), she’ll be taking the Heliocare 360° Water Gel to Antarctica. “Last year, the conditions were really bad – it was the worst weather in 50 years. If I had any skin exposure, it would result in frostbite.”
In the South Pole, it’s sunny all year round, but with bad storms. Therefore it is vital than skin is protected with broad spectrum sun protection.
“Last year, I covered up so well that I came back with vitamin D deficiency!” Jenny laughed. “There wasn’t a single mark or damage on my skin though.”
This time around, the weather conditions are looking much better, so if possible, Jenny will expose a little more skin for the sake of vitamin D. “But I will be using Heliocare religiously to protect, my skin,” she added. “And I’ve also been taking the Heliocare 360 Capsules before I head off, to boost my skin protection and get my skin in the best shape.”
We are delighted that she has also chosen Heliocare as a trusted partner for her Solo to the South Pole expedition. You can find out more about Jenny and follow her progress here.
NEWSFLASH: 10 JANUARY
Message received from Jenny in the early hours of this morning:
“Guess who’s at the Pole!! Big push and arrived just after midnight x”
It’s been 43 days and some hours (official finish time TBC) but at the second attempt Jenny has made it solo to the bottom of the world. She was a few days off the record time but she really went for it and for the first 500 miles looked like she might just manage it.
After a much needed sleep and getting some treatment for her polar thigh, we will hopefully get some photos and more messages direct from Jenny later on.