British teen claims new South Pole trek record

LONDON (AFP) - A 16-year-old British schoolboy on Saturday became the youngest person ever to trek to the South Pole, his team said.

Lewis Clarke celebrated with a bowl of pasta with fresh parmesan cheese, his first real meal since setting off on the gruelling 1,129-kilometre journey from the coast on December 2.

The teenager and his guide, Carl Alvey, travelled across the Antarctic on skis, unsupported except for a few food drops and braving temperatures as low as minus 50C, according to Clarke's website.

"I'm really happy but mostly relieved that for the first time in 48 days I don't have to get up tomorrow and drag my sled for nine hours in the snow and icy wind," Clarke said in a statement carried by the British media.

"Today was really hard, the closer I got to the Pole the slower I went, my legs had had enough.

"But now I'm here and I've had some spaghetti bolognaise and I am sitting in a heated tent."

The pair arrived at the South Pole at 1800 GMT (2am Sunday Singapore time) and after tucking into his meal Clarke called his relieved parents back home in Bristol, in western England.

"Coming home will be a bit weird for him, I'm sure, after seven weeks of almost complete solitude," his father Steven Clarke told the BBC.

"But it'll be a few days off, a party and then onto GCSE revision," he added, referring to the national school exams that the young adventurer will have to take in May and June.

Clarke, who raised money for Prince Charles' charity for young people, the Prince's Trust, will be back in Britain on January 24 when he hopes his record will be verified.

Guinness World Records said the record for the youngest person to trek overland to the South Pole without the use of dogs or motorised vehicles was set by 18-year-old Canadian Sarah Ann McNair-Landry in January 2005.

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