This Woman’s Word is delighted to be featuring Dwayne Fields aka ‘Polar Boy’ , a young adventurer / explorer born in Jamaica who now resides in London.
For those unfamiliar with Dwayne’s story and his achievements, he was the first young Black Briton to have trekked a total of 370 miles to reach the North Pole back in April 2010. Not stopping there, he is now in full prep to go on a Solo expedition to the South Pole, a trip scheduled for November 2013.
Be under no illusion Ladies and Gents, this is no walk in the park. The South Pole Expedition is one hell of an extreme endurance challenge that will no doubt test his mental and physical state of mind as Dwayne will be forced to negotiate crevasses, cross snow bridges and make an ascent from Sea Level to approximately 3,330 meters near the South Pole.
He will also be confronted with katabatic winds up to 80 mph whilst braving chilling temperatures as low as -40 C, not forgetting constant threats of blinding snowstorms!
To add to his previous achievements, Dwayne has also completed the National Three Peaks Challenge under 24 hours as well as finishing the Chara Challenge (a truly demanding thirty mile cross-country race across Dartmoor whilst carrying 32 lbs of weight) in 12th Place in an impressive 9 hours 4 mins 19 secs.
I had the pleasure of being introduced to this talented young man this time last year whilst doing charity work for The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, a charity we both support. Always on the lookout to challenge my Breakin’ Boundrez team, Dwayne agreed to lead my team and I up Mount Snowdon, Briton’s second highest peak.
Needless to say neither of my team members had done anything like that before and made the victory that much sweeter being in the company of an awesome individual.
Despite his ever busy schedule, I managed to catch up with Dwayne earlier this week to find out about his latest challenge, his upcoming autobiography and the training methods used to prepare for a challenge such as an expedition to the South Pole
Keen to understand what led him to go on the ventures he goes on, I began the interview by asking him the most obvious question.
1. What ultimately inspired you to do something different and become an explorer / adventurer?
I can honestly say I have never been happy following the crowd so when the opportunity to distinguish myself came about in the form of a polar adventure I took the chance to do something that was far outside my comfort zone. It is an unusual career path for someone from my background but it’s always been my dream to travel in search of adventure and now I get to live it!
After all life isn’t always about doing what’s expected, in many cases it’s doing the unexpected/ typical things that inspire and encourage others and that’s what I ultimately want to achieve.
2. Who are you inspirations and what role do they play in your life?
I would definitely rank Scott and Shackleton as two among the all time great explorers. They had many of the qualities that you would hope to see in the person leading a group of their piers into the unknown. However, I feel that Matthew Henson has been one of the greatest inspirational figures to me personally, he is less well known than they are but he faced and overcame all the challenges they did and more.
He was a black man during the time when being black made you less than your white counter parts. He never made excuses, he worked hard, dreamt big and became a friend and respected member of Captain Robert Piery’s crew. His navigational skills were second to none! He was a keen carpenter and extremely disciplined and in my opinion, makes a true role model.
3. You were the first Black Briton to trek to the North Pole in 2010 and are now training for an expedition to the South Pole later on this year. As you were born in a hot country, what made you want to visit one of the coldest places on earth?
For me it was never really about visiting the North Pole, it was more about contradicting stereotypes. I couldn’t think of anything more outlandish and unusual than a young, black, working class, Jamaican born, Hackney resident getting up and saying ‘ I’m going to walk to the North Pole’. I wanted to show people they could stand out and aim to be different and it would be okay.
4. We are all intrigued to know how someone will train to get South Pole ready. Please enlighten us by briefly describing your current training regime and future plan to take your training to the next level?
Training for a 50+ day walk isn’t easy; it’s all the more difficult when that walk is taking place in Antarctica. At the moment, I am focusing on getting my legs prepared for the task by doing long walks while carrying weights of up to 15kg. I jog regularly and pull tyre’s to strengthen my core and prepare my body for the long hours of pulling the ‘pulk’ , a sled that holds all of my food, fuel and equipment.
I have also taken up Yoga, which again is to further strengthen my core. I also plan to spend a few weekends away in the Arctic Circle in the run up to me leaving in November. This will ultimately help me to focus my mind on the challenge ahead.
5. You are mainly on your own during these adventures, what drives you to stay focused and achieve your objective?
Whilst out on expedition, I tend to think a lot about my life and I get strength from looking at how far I have come. By that I don’t mean the distance from Jamaica to London or from London to wherever *laughs* but more the change within myself since embarking on these adventures.
I went from being the average inner city guy that looked forward to one day getting a nine to five to being average inner city guy that followed my dreams and think to myself this is where it’s taken me, and often wonder a lot about where I will be heading next.
In short, I will take strength from anything that takes my mind off the fact that my body is feeling fatigued and cold.
6. How have these adventures you embark on changed you? (for the good or bad)
The adventures I have embarked on have definitely changed me for the better. The more I see and experience, the more I want to explore different places of the earth. I have had the pleasure of meeting some great people along the way and have had some amazing once in a lifetime experiences which have definitely enriched my life.
Being able to share my travels with young people who may or may not ever get to experience it for themselves brings me a huge amount of joy, which is always a good thing and is one of the reasons I do what I do.
7. You were recently awarded with the prestigious honour of the Freedom of the City of London for your contribution towards motivational visits to schools, youth clubs and various projects. What does this recognition mean to you?
Its feels great to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London, it means that the things I am trying achieve within my community are being recognized, and this intern means the challenges within inner city areas like my own will not be forgotten or ignored.
I know there are a lot of people who are doing some amazing work with the youth today and I hope that this award will play a part in encouraging them to continue in they’re very worthwhile efforts to inspire and motivate.
8. What have been your main highlight / achievement throughout your journey as an explorer / adventurer?
The highlights through my journey as an explorer/adventurer have come thick and fast, so much so that it’s difficult to describe specific ones, but here goes;
I remember speaking to a group of young people when I returned from the North Pole and as I finished my presentation ready to leave, one of the teenagers came over to me and quietly asked how he could get into this kind of thing.
To me, this was the very thing I hoped to achieve when I started adventuring. Another highlight for me was being invited to Buckingham Palace to meet HRH Queen Elizabeth this was truly amazing, what made it even more amazing was that I got to meet and converse with one of my all time hero’s Sir David Attenborough.
9. Your South Pole expedition is not entirely self funded, and requires sponsorship / support from individuals, companies and organizations where possible. Please explain how people can get involved and help support you on your quest?
This particular challenge does require a lot of financial support. There are a number of ways that companies / organizations or individual’s can help. If an organization is interested in supporting me they can get in touch with an offer of sponsorship or via the ‘buy a mile’ campaign.
The individual’s that would like to support my challenge can do all of the above. They also have the added option of buying the abridged version of my autobiography ‘Far From Myself’. All of these options can be done via my website.
10. What advise can you give to someone that wants to explore the great outdoors? What type activities are available for adults and children?
I think the best advice I can give to anyone *child or adult* that wants to explore the great outdoors is to just get out and do it, but do it with safety in mind. Follow a few simple rules;
Start small until you build on experience. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Speak to people who have already done what you are hoping to do. Simple things like that, I would never deter them.
11. What would you like to do after your expedition to the South Pole?
Oh my! *grins and sits forward with an expression of excitement of his face*
I have a long list of places I would love to venture to. Conquering Mount Everest in 2015/16 is possibly at the top of that list. I also plan to do a lot more youth engagement work. Helping the next generation of adventurers find their feet and their place in history is a big dream of mine, so I will be working on that as well as my autobiography.
Dwayne’s drive, motivation and desire to inspire more people, especially our younger generation to get out and explore the great outdoors whilst breaking the stereotypes often placed on the ethnic minority community makes him a worthy candidate to be acknowledge for his great work inspiring others and leading from the front.
I shall conclude this interview with a short clip of Dwayne’s ‘ Get out into the countryside’, taken from BBC’s Daily Politics Show.
If you were just as inspired as I was after reading this article and want to help Dwayne on his quest to conquer the South Pole Expedition in November 2013, please visit his website Dwayne Fields where full details can be found regarding corporate sponsorship, individual donations and to purchase is autobiography *a must read for anyone looking for inspiration*
For updates on his training and all things leading up to Dwayne’s South Pole Challenge, ensure to follow him on social media site Twitter under username @DwayneFields
Danielle is a 1st Dan Kickboxing coach / Assistant Instructor under the PKA Kickboxing Association who is also a health, fitness, green beauty, wellness and lifestyle freelance writer / digital journalist. Her passions include encouraging others to lead an active, health conscious lifestyle whilst leading her Breakin' Boundrez team on various fitness related challenges.