Pen Hadow rose to international fame when in 2003 he achieved his extraordinary goal to become the first person to trek solo, without resupply by third parties, from Canada to the North Geographic Pole – a feat which has not been repeated and thought comparable in difficulty to making the first ascent of Everest, solo and without oxygen. Within months he went on to become the only Briton to have trekked, without resupply, to both the North and South Geographic Poles.
Pen’s exploration and entrepreneurial interests had combined in 1995 to found a specialist polar guide service (The Polar Travel Company), which organised expeditions to the Poles. In 2009 he formed Geo Mission, a pioneering environmental sponsorship organisation, which delivered the multi-award winning series of Catlin Arctic Surveys (2009-2011) investigating the rates, causes and global impacts of the fast-disappearing Arctic sea ice.
Pen now speaks to corporate, conference and dinner audiences on themes including human performance, leadership and environmental responsibility, is an advocate for protection of the Arctic Ocean’s marine resources, and provides consulting services to exploration-related organisations.
Pen’s bestselling autobiography, Solo, is a fascinating insight into the build-up and execution of the unrelentingly tough and hazardous two-month journey to the North Pole that led to him fulfilling his burning ambition and, by association, becoming a national figure through the global media coverage of his iconic achievement.
In the 1980′s Pen became the youngest executive at Mark McCormack’s Sports Organisation, the renowned International Management Group (aka IMG), where he promoted the talents of international sports stars and sports events. A decade later, following several polar expeditions, he set up the world’s first specialist polar guide service, opening up the Arctic and Antarctic to a wide audience with his pioneering travel business, The Polar Travel Company. His vision was to empower people from all walks of life to fulfil their polar ambitions.
Pen’s love of exploration and endeavour is infectious and he actively encourages others to push back their limits. In1997 he devised and organised the first all-women’s expedition to the North Geographic Pole. Twenty women, with no previous polar experience and from all backgrounds and age groups, were led in the field by two professional women guides to realise their dreams and walk into the Guinness Book of Records. In so doing, he changed the perception of what many thought was impossible in the polar regions. This pioneering project spawned the careers of a number of female British polar explorers who have gone on to lead the field globally.
Pen discovered early the benefits that come with a high degree of compliance to sports training programmes, and applied these to his own extra-curricular endeavours. Aged 15 he devised a punishing training schedule to enable him to attempt a fabled 20-mile school marathon, which in 1977 was long before marathons had become a public participation sport. He completed the route in three hours; and it was recently confirmed by the school that his was the first recorded completion of the run, known as Long Ducker. It has since become one of the largest events in Harrow School’s calendar.
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Presenting Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards at Holyrood Palace
Invited to present Gold Awards to young Scots, I found myself overnighting the night before, just a few hundred yards from Holyrood Palace and the adjacent Scottish Parliament building. Skies were overcast and threatening liquid deployment. More happily HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were in the middle of their annual Royal Week based in Holyrood, and spirits were un-dampened amongst the 300 Gold Award recipients, each with their two guests.